Nurse to male health students: Stigmas aren’t true

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A male nurse has urged men who are contemplating to break into the industry not to be put off by “stigmas” surrounding the profession.

Christian Colangelo, 29, is a nurse working full-time and St. Vincent’s Hospital and Agency with Victorian Nursing Specialists and feels males should not be put off about the general idea that the job is for women.

The movie Meet the Parents could be a quintessential example as to how male nurses are looked at in the industry and Mr Colangelo acknowledges nursing is looked at as a female dominated and low paying profession which ultimately can be off-putting for men.

However Mr Colangelo refutes of the idea a nurse’s salary is low and feels along with the pay, the nature of work can be very rewarding.

“People don’t believe me when I tell them how much I earn,” Mr Colangelo said.

“When you look at our hourly rate, it doesn’t sound like much. When you take into account our allowances and penalties, it’s actually decent.

“I work a 12-hour shift on average and I only have to work three days a week. On my days off I can pick up agency work at other hospitals and supplement my income. I have made lifelong friends within my nursing career.

“If you can describe the flexibility and pay of nursing, you would be able to attract more males. It’s a 24-hour job so it gives the person the opportunity to work when they want to work and work as much as they want.”

According to the Australian College of Nursing (ACN), men make up only about ten per cent of the nursing workforce.

Mr Colangelo studied a Bachelor of Nursing and Arts at Australian Catholic University (ACU) and did his Master of Nursing (Intensive Care) at La Trobe University.

While it does not annoy him that nursing is seen as a female profession, he said he encounters a lot of people assuming his sexuality or his future aspirations.

“Some families have asked about my sexual orientation and there is also a stereotype that all male nurses are gay,” he conceded.

“I can’t tell you how many times family members as well as other staff members have asked why didn’t you do medicine? Or ask if I am considering to go back to uni to study medicine.”

Carolyn Stapleton, who is the Manager of Policy and Advocacy at the ACN employers are often looking at recruiting and maintaining a diverse workforce, male nurses tend to be looked on favourably as employees.

Ms Stapleton acknowledges historically nursing was seen as a female’s job but in the 21st century there is definitely a shift in perception surrounding the role.

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She also feels some of the public perception of nursing being a female-dominated profession is based on the reality that many people have only ever been treated by a female nurse.

Ms Stapleton also feels a message that needs to be delivered is that men are just as suitable to be nurses as females and they bring many unique characteristics that have positive outcomes for patients.

“Several universities have run campaigns looking to recruit male students to their nursing programs,” Ms Stapleton said.

“Research has found that there has been some success in recruiting men at the postgraduate level where they come to nursing after working in other sectors and are looking for a career change.

“There has been some successful recruitment campaigns targeting males to try and convince them to take up a career in nursing, but at a broader society-level there is still some way to go to make it as acceptable a career choice as a male deciding to be a banker, plumber or fitness instructor.”

Overall in Ms Stapleton’s observations, she said many nurses who choose to enter the industry are ultimately happy with what they do.

Ms Stapleton made the point there are opportunities to specialise in niche areas as well as being able to work in diverse locations in Australia and overseas which adds to the rewards of choosing nursing as a career.

“It’s a very rewarding job with many career opportunities for both women and men in lots of diverse areas,” she said.

“Aged care nursing, perioperative nursing, mental health nursing, emergency care, child and family health nursing, preventative health, sexual health, the drug and alcohol sector, and many others.

“There is no doubt that nursing, like many other professions, is a tough job but many nurses are very satisfied with their chosen career.”

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