One outdated stereotype is that nursing is not a career choice for men. This view has been hard to shift, but there are early signs that this might finally be changing. And, at Torrens University, we intend to lead the way.
We need a nursing workforce which reflects the diversity of the community, and which attracts the best talent, regardless of gender. The change could not be coming at a better time – a time when the nation is turning to nurses, doctors and other health professionals at a time of health crisis (COVID-19).
Shannon Mullins is one of three men in a class of 12 at our Melbourne campus who will soon complete their Diploma of Nursing with THINK Education.
He says it is important to focus on the core vocational and professional aspects of nursing.
‘No matter what gender that you are, it’s great to consider nursing as a role and don’t let your gender or stereotypes hold you back from pursuing that career,’ Shannon says.
‘You know, Nursing is a career made up of many, many different people and really the most important thing that is necessary for this role is to have compassion and passion for the job.’
Shannon has been working in a caring role for about 10 years, and started his career working with people with intellectual disabilities.
‘When I would take my clients to health appointments, it was hard to find people who could communicate well or be empathetic to people with disabilities. A lot of the time the psychiatrists and psychologists found it quite difficult to talk to these people.
‘So I thought maybe having a career in nursing would mean I could make a difference in the way we communicate with and support people with disabilities.
‘My goal is to continue studying and do my Bachelor of Nursing and then do my Masters in Nursing Practice, so that I can be a mental health nurse.’
Studying communication techniques is an exciting part of the Diploma course for Shannon.
‘We learn the skills for communicating with different demographics of people – people with disabilities, older people, people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds, people who don’t speak English as their first language,’ he says.
“The most important thing about communicating is to actively listen to what people are saying or trying to communicate. Communicating is extremely important to be able to provide the best quality care for the patients and so you can develop a rapport with them.’
Shannon says men who are considering a nursing career will play an important role in reversing perceptions.
‘I think there’s quite a big stigma and it’s holding back so many men. They have this outdated thinking that, No, I can’t be a nurse because nurses are women.
‘It’s our job as student nurses and nurses to get rid of that bias and the stigma, to help people to understand that there are plenty of men who are nurses, and there are plenty of women who are doctors.’
‘Nursing is an extremely rewarding job. It’s a role where you can use your skills in so many different ways, not just medical hands-on skills. Nurses have a holistic role, supporting a person medically, but also supporting their physical and spiritual and emotional wellbeing.
‘I think it’s important that men are there in healthcare to support other men in the workforce, and also to support the women in the workforce. It’s also important that men going into a Nursing role respect and learn from women in the workforce.’
Shannon believes that breaking down the stereotypes is good for patients too.
‘It’s really important for patients to see both men and women working as nurses. Some people are more comfortable with a woman looking after them; some people are more comfortable with a man looking after them.’
He says that ultimately, nursing is a role for people who enjoy challenges and change.
‘What I love the most about nursing is that it’s not just a job you go to and you don’t stop learning after you’ve finished uni’, Shannon says.
‘Nursing is a role where you’re constantly learning every single day and you’re constantly needing to update your skills. There’re so many different Nursing courses, I know that I’ll be studying for the rest of my life. That might be a frightening idea for some people but I absolutely love it.’