Stripping away stereotypes one male nurse at a time

Camille Botello, News Editor

Josh Morales walks into his patient’s room with this week’s lesson in his head and a full beard on his face. He says that since male nurses are the minority, he’s always conscious about treating his peers and patients with extra compassion so he comes across as approachable.

“Being a man, the usual gender roles are a little more blended,” the Linfield junior said. “I prefer to think more like a female in my field. It feels like I have to up my game and make sure I’m doing a good job representing the male presence in the nursing environment.”

Calder Ifft

Calder Ifft, one of Morales’ classmates, said that he doesn’t have a problem with being a minority in the classroom. He grew up with six sisters, so he’s used to spending a lot of time around females. The only time Ifft feels slightly alienated in the classroom is when they discuss women’s medical conditions, like abortion, that he can’t relate to.

“That can get really emotional for people because of their experience with abortion,” he said. “You don’t really get a voice as a man or aren’t included in that conversation, but I haven’t felt like I needed to speak up on that issue.”

According to the National Nursing Workforce, only about 9 percent of all nurses are men nationally. However, in Linfield College’s program it nearly doubles to 17 percent.

Health Leaders magazine reported that male nurses earn an average of $6,000 more than their majority female counterparts every year, which could be drawing more men to the field.

Morales knew he wanted to be a nurse since the beginning of high school. He has a grandmother, aunts, mom and older sister in the field who inspired him to pursue healthcare.

The concept of “being a man” is hard for both Morales and Ifft to articulate because of their female role models and the traditional gender roles the phrase implies.

Josh Morales (right)

“It’s about recognizing that you can always learn something and not putting barriers on what you call yourself,” Morales said. “I just pick up knowledge where I can and find strength where I can.”

Ifft said he focuses on the people he works with more than their gender, but is also proud to be a man in the nursing field. He plans on either becoming a Nurse Practitioner, or going back to school to teach or research nursing.

“As much as there’s a drive for gender equality, I think that it is important that there are men in nursing,” he said. “I’m proud of the identity of being a man because it gives me the opportunity to represent myself as a man and as my gender stereotypes.”