Male Nursing II

Larry Connell is a visible minority on the job. He is a male nurse. Although he has experienced prejudice because of his gender, he does not let it bother him.

Well, I'll give you some of the history. First of all, men -- men were the first nurses, and not in terms of the biological definition of nursing, to feed, but in the -- in the wars, it was the Christian Brothers who were nursing the -- who were attending, if you will, to the injured on the -- on the fields. While they may not take part in the war, they were taking part in the healing. And the forefront of most medical science surgery has been on the battlefront. You know, this wonderful -- wonderful plastic surgeons that came out of Vietnam. That's a sad note, but -- so men have been in the attending, care, treating field, outside of doctors, for centuries, literally. Since the registration of nurses to the best of my knowledge right up until I entered nursing, there was between one and three percent male RNs. Not visible though. They tended to go into psychiatry. They tended to go into urology. And not necessarily be in the visible eye of general care. And I think we've migrated out to those areas now. I don't know that our percentage numbers have increased much more than that. I don't know. But it's never been an issue for me. I've always maintained that Sally can fight fires. And if the equipment is -- if she's not able to carry the equipment, then we should be making equipment that is bearable by workers. So -- so yeah, if Sally can fight fires, Larry -- Larry can be a nurse. And I don't care what you call it. If nursing is a female term, but -- I'll live with that. The resistance I've had mostly has been through my colleagues and not through the patients. When I was a student, and I was in maternity -- I was assigned to maternity, I had met one of the nurses in a social atmosphere then. Okay, now I'm dating myself. It was discotheque. And she expressed to me extreme, extreme resentment to me being on the maternity ward. And I asked her, I said, Well, what about the male doctors? They're on the maternity ward. And she said, That's different. And I said, Do you know that most of the patients are very, very welcoming when I introduce myself and -- and provide care? It didn't matter to her. I didn't belong to her. She was an extreme. Very young girl, too, which surprised me. Usually you'd think it with the older girls. But the older nurses were -- women were more accepting. Most of the resentment or isolation I've met throughout my career has been through my colleagues and not through the patients so much. But most of my colleagues are very, very accepting. Of course my -- my union has a constitution that constantly says hers and she throughout, but we'll work on that.