Career & Education

'Best feeling in the world'

Male nursing students tout benefits of female-dominated profession

Sunday, October 08, 2017

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While nursing is a highly sought- after programme of study in Jamaica due to its high overseas marketability and the ability to greatly impact lives, it is generally unappealing to males largely because of the age-old belief that it is a profession for females and females only.

In an aim to debunk the myth, Eric Armstrong, a third-year male nursing student at the University of Technology Jamaica (UTech, Jamaica), took the stage at the UTech, Jamaica Open House 2017 at the Alfred Sangster Auditorium two Wednesdays ago to share his experience in the female-dominated industry.

He is one of five male students enrolled in his third- year group. The class population is a little over 125 students, making the ratio of male to female students 1:25; meaning that for every one male student, there are 25 females.

Asked why he chose a career in nursing given the dominant presence of females, Armstrong responded that he wanted a career path that was outside of the norm and one that would fit his outgoing personality combined with his love of people. He stated that during a conversation with a group of friends who were discussing career choices, he heard the expected career options such as pharmacist, engineer, teacher, etc, and knew that he wanted something different.

After a discussion with his mom, he outlined what he wanted to achieve in life and after listening, she suggested nursing. Armstrong reported that he was sceptical about it until he did additional research and was amazed at the range of services nursing offers.

He later enrolled in the nursing programme and has not regretted his decision.

“I'm so glad I made this choice, as nursing has allowed be to meet some amazing people. It is a great profession!” he said.

Armstrong added that the females in his class are very welcoming and feel safe in his presence.

“Being one of five male students in a class means that you cannot skip class, as you will certainly be missed by the teachers,” he added, jokingly.

On a more sober note, the young nursing student shared that when he just got started, he faced criticisms from his friends, but they have since come around.

“When I first started, I had friends who used to chastise and 'bun mi out' because I am in this profession, but when I shared stories of how I nursed people back to health during my practical and how they thanked me for helping to restore their health, [they stopped]. I know this is worth it. I feel some sense of accomplishment. When someone can look you in the eye and show their gratitude for rehabilitating them, it is the best feeling in the world,” the young man said.

Malique Brown, another male nursing student, said for him, “There's no other profession in medicine that allows you the exclusivity of having one-on-one interaction with patients where you can get to make a difference in their lives.”

He added that while he agrees that there is still a stigma surrounding male nursing in Jamaica, there is international appeal and demand for its practitioners.

“Anyone who wants to make an impact on families, one member at a time, nursing is where it starts, whether male or female,” he stressed.

Nursing and midwifery representative of the College of Health Sciences at UTech, Jamaica, Juline Souden, added that while the number of male nurses registered in the programme at this time is not high, there has been an increase over the years and she hopes the ratio can get to 1:3 in the near future. Souden continued that nursing has an international market appeal that could land one a job in any country without having to restudy. The course of study, according to Souden, takes four full years to complete, including summers, which are used for practical, hands-on learning in hospitals and other health care facilities.

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