Just Call Us Nurses: Men in Nursing

Laura A. Stokowski, RN, MS


August 16, 2012

In This Article

Images of Men in Nursing

Setting aside the dreadful popular media images of nursing in general (the handmaiden to physicians, the "sexy nurse," the wallflower standing by while physicians perform nursing tasks), men as nurses have few positive media images.[13] One of the best-known Hollywood portrayals of a male nurse was the role of Gaylord "Greg" Focker, played by Ben Stiller, in the "Meet the Parents" movies. Greg's father-in-law was contemptuous of his career choice and made "condescending challenges to Greg's intellect and manhood, with frequent suggestions that Greg should change his career."[13] Still, Focker stood his ground, explaining why he found nursing to be a fulfilling career and why he chose it over medicine. In the end, however, the films portray nursing as "a career for men who are nice, but not particularly clever."[13]

Portrayals of male nurses on other television shows have been mixed. A range of characters, from the gay man and the failed medical student to the nurse who only answers the phone or needs to be told what to do by residents, have made appearances in various hospital-based shows. A few of these shows managed to expose the stereotypes faced by men in nursing, and given the belief that "men can't be nurses," at least male nurse characters have been portrayed in television programs and movies.


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