Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

Are You Man Enough.To Be a Nurse?

Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

Are You Man Enough.To Be a Nurse?

Article excerpt

Education News

Are You Man Enough to Be a Nurse?

Oregon does not have an overall nurse recruitment problem: its educational system presently turns away two to three times the qualified nursing applicants it can accommodate. However, consistent with the rest of the country, less than 10 percent of Oregon's workforce is male and/or of ethnic minority status. The Oregon Center for Nursing (OCN), launched by the Oregon Nursing Leadership Council in January 2002 and comprised of representatives from five major nursing organizations, has set out to correct these imbalances in gender and ethnicity. The poster, "Are You Man Enough to Be a Nurse?" is one part of a comprehensive campaign developed by OCN with the support of the Northwest Health Foundation.

The campaign was developed after OCN staff and volunteers arrived at the realization that a new way is needed to "package" nursing careers to attract men to nursing. Informal encounters with high school and middle school students, guidance counselors, and teachers, as well as formal initiatives such as focus groups and reviews of the literature, led to the conclusion that nursing is seen as "women's work." To correct this image and connect young men with nurses who "look like them" would require emphasizing some of the "masculine" attributes of a modern nursing career.

The first step in creating the poster involved finding male nurses representing a wide age range, key ethnic groups, and various practice specialties. Each model was selected not only for how he looked and what he had accomplished, but also for his ability to articulate why he loved nursing. Two nursing students were included, as it was considered important for young men early in their nursing careers to describe how they arrived at the decision to study nursing.

The models were found through word of mouth and the convenient fact that the dean of the University of Portland, where the OCN is located, is a male, long active in the American Assembly of Men in Nursing and various other national organizations. Dean Terry Misener was instrumental in identifying students, graduates, and local nurses who fit the poster recruitment criteria.

The poster was released to the public at a large press conference attended by representatives from television, radio, and the print media. Following a brief background report from OCN and Foundation staff about the nature of the larger, ongoing campaign to target men, the press had access to the poster models themselves. The poster is being mailed to every high school, middle school, hospital, and nursing program in the state and will appear on billboards and buses in key locations.

Other male recruitment activities include a partnership with a community educational organization, Saturday Academy, which offers immersion programs to expose exceptional Oregon students to various professions. A range of nursing offerings are available, but one - "Men in Scrubs" - targets boys exclusively and is taught by men only. Other nursing offerings, for 4th through 12th graders, use carefully selected male nurses, as well as ethnic minority nurses, as faculty wherever possible. Additional activities include the development of an accurate nurse coloring book for kindergarten through 2nd graders and presentations by male nurses in local elementary schools.

Anecdotal responses to the poster by adolescent boys usually take the form of, "No way are those guys nurses!" This consistent, spontaneous reaction confirms the assumption that at least in Oregon, nursing has a significant image problem, especially when it comes to boys and men.

Evaluation of the poster's impact will occur formally through follow-up surveys of guidance counselors and focus groups with targeted boys. Success of the entire campaign will ultimately be measured in Oregon State Board of Nursing annual statistics regarding gender of new nurse licensees.

The nursing community, both female and male, has responded extremely favorably to the poster. …

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