Male nurses find it can be lonely help­ing people in hos­pi­tals

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By WANG HONGYI in Shang­hai wanghongyi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Wear­ing a light blue uni­form and cir­cu­lat­ing from ward to ward, the 23-year-old young man was par­tic­u­larly no­tice­able among a group of fe­male nurses.

“I was of­ten con­sid­ered an `alien’ in a pro­fes­sion oc­cu­pied by fe­males,” said Qian Erzhuang, one of a hand­ful of male nurses at the Shang­haibased Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal of Fu­dan Univer­sity.

Though he said he of­ten faced mis­trust and mis­un­der­stand­ing from oth­ers since be­com­ing a nurse two years ago, he said he re­ally loves the job.

“When I do a trans­fu­sion or re­fresh a ban­dage, some par­ents of­ten watch my each move, fear­ing that any inat­ten­tion may harm their chil­dren,” he told China Daily in an in­ter­view just be­fore the an­nual In­ter­na­tional Nurses Day, which is cel­e­brated around the world on May 12.

“For many cases, I have to ex­plain a lot to the lit­tle pa­tients’ par­ents be­fore I start to work. Some of them can ac­cept me, but some still in­sist on chang­ing to a fe­male nurse,” he said.

Qian said that in­deed both­ers him, but it’s un­der­stand­able.

“Work­ing in a chil­dren’s hospi­tal, we meet lit­tle pa­tients ev­ery day. Par­ents are of­ten very pro­tec­tive to­ward their chil­dren and have much higher re­quire­ments on nurs­ing, es­pe­cially when they see a male nurse,” he said.

As the only male nurse in the nephrol­ogy depart­ment, Qian is very pop­u­lar among lit­tle pa­tients, and his ID badge is full of cartoon stick­ers they have given him.

The hospi­tal has only seven male nurses, in­clud­ing Qian, among more than 600 nurses.

“Most men don’t want this job, and some choose to leave af­ter a short time. Even my­self, I also had the idea of leav­ing at the be­gin­ning due to a lack of ca­reer iden­tity and low so­cial sta­tus,” Qian said.

The lat­est fig­ures from the city’s health au­thor­i­ties show that there are more than 70,000 reg­is­tered nurses in Shang­hai, and among them only 918 are males.

In many de­vel­oped coun­tries, the pro­por­tion of male nurses ac­counts for more than 20 per­cent, and the num­ber keeps ris­ing about 2 to 3 per­cent each year, ex­perts said. But in China, of about 2.5 mil­lion reg­is­tered nurses, male nurses rep­re­sent only 1 per­cent of that to­tal, ac­cord­ing to the Chi­nese Nurs­ing As­so­ci­a­tion.

There is still wide dis­crim­i­na­tion against male nurses, and Chi­nese people of­ten be­lieve that nurs­ing is a fem­i­nine pro­fes­sion. This makes many young men feel un­com­fort­able and dis­cour­aged when they en­ter the pro­fes­sion, said Deng Jun, deputy head of the male-nurse work­ing com­mit­tee of the Chi­nese Nurs­ing As­so­ci­a­tion.

“Un­der such stereo­typ­ing, fewer young men choose to study nurs­ing. Some male nurs­ing stu­dents choose to work in other fields upon grad­u­a­tion, or leave for other pro­fes­sions af­ter work­ing for a very short time,” Deng said.

Xu Xiaop­ing, di­rec­tor-gen­eral of Shang­hai Nurs­ing As­so­ci­a­tion, said many de­part­ments in hos­pi­tals ur­gently need male nurses.

“Men are usu­ally phys­i­cally stronger than women, and they have ob­vi­ous ad­van­tages in some de­part­ments, such as male uro­log­i­cal depart­ment, men­tal health, in­ten­sive care units, emer­gency de­part­ments and surgery rooms,” Xu said.

Male nurses of­ten per­form bet­ter in deal­ing with emer­gen­cies and us­ing large med­i­cal in­stru­ments, and are ac­tu­ally very pop­u­lar in hos­pi­tals, said Lu Qun­feng, deputy di­rec­tor of nurs­ing depart­ment of Shang­hai Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal.

In re­cent years, some Shang­hai hos­pi­tals have taken steps to re­tain their male nurses.

The Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal of Fu­dan Univer­sity re­cently es­tab­lished a men­tor pro­gram to strengthen com­mu­ni­ca­tions with the male nurses. They are given reg­u­lar op­por­tu­ni­ties to talk with hospi­tal man­age­ment, and guid­ance and sup­port for work and life. It also helps nurses de­sign a ca­reer path for fu­ture de­vel­op­ment.

“Our hospi­tal has paid more at­ten­tion to my ca­reer de­vel­op­ment, and also pro­vides me a lot of chances of study, which makes me full of con­fi­dence. I also gave up the thoughts o quit­ting the job,” Qian said.

GAO ERQIANG / CHINA DAILY

A scene at the emer­gency unit of the Shang­hai No 6 People’s Hospi­tal.

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