Nurses are a critical part of healthcare, but the societal stereotype linking females with the career still seems to make the profession more attractive to women. One local male nurse recently started a group to address common issues faced by male nurses. His goal: to help further diversify an important healthcare profession.
When Derek Drake started college, he was a pre-med major. However, after job shadowing his mother — who is a nurse — he changed his major to nursing and never looked back.
“I’ve always been drawn towards science and the healthcare industry,” he explained. “I wanted a career where I could help people and make a genuine difference in the world. My mother is a nurse, and I’ve seen how rewarding and fulfilling her career has been.”
While men contribute unique perspectives and skills significant to the profession, like many male nurses, Derek’s path included his share of challenges for being a male in a profession that is predominantly comprised of females.
“Male nurses are often portrayed as ‘muscle strength’ by female nurses and can be perceived as non-caring,” said Derek, MSN, RN, CNML, CNL, Director of Nursing, Emergency and Trauma Services, Renown Health. “Men leave nursing altogether two and a half times more often than their female counterparts.”
Renown Nurse Addresses Gender Issues
Derek presented on men in nursing at the 43rd annual Biennial Convention of Sigma Theta Tau International in Las Vegas to approximately 4,000 nurses from 39 countries. He shared stats, his personal experience, as well as information about a new group he helped start that allows male nurses to identify and explore factors affecting them.
“As an undergraduate nursing student, I had a horrible experience during clinical rotations in a maternal/child unit,” Derek remembered. “I was degraded for being a male attempting to be a nurse, and was basically told I should go sit in the conference room until the end of the day because I was not welcomed on the unit.”
The group he helped create: Nevada’s first American Assembly of Men in Nursing, which he says is a way for male nurses in Nevada to grow professionally, advocate for continued research and disseminate information about men’s health issues. The chapter currently has 13 members and recently held its first meeting at the end of January.
“I want to provide a framework for nurses in Northern Nevada, as a group, to meet, to discuss and influence factors that affect men as nurses,” he says. “I want the group to help expand on the expertise of men in nursing, promoting gender diversity and inclusion and leading to improved gender balance in nursing school and the workplace.”