As a male CNA working in a nursing facility, I sometimes joke that I am surrounded by women all day long. The majority of the nursing assistants and nurses I work with are female and most of the residents are as well. Since women live longer and are more likely not to have a spouse on hand to help them out, more women than men take up residence in nursing facilities.

Sometimes I get the hard jobs, due to being one of the few men on the floor, like turning the heavier patients or dealing with combative residents. But I know that the men who live in the facility appreciate having a man around to help them. They can maintain some dignity when a man helps them with toileting or dressing. And some of the more old-fashioned types have even told me they “don’t like taking orders from a woman”!

I do sometimes get asked why I didn’t become a doctor or a pharmacist, but I just ignore these remarks. I do plan to continue my education and eventually become an RN, but of course, that’s a female-dominated field as well.

I did a little bit of research and discovered that the original nurses were Catholic nuns and monks in the Roman Empire, so nursing was definitely a male profession back then. But modern nursing, as started by Florence Nightingale, actually didn’t allow men to join the profession. Women were the caregivers for babies and for the elderly, so they naturally became nurses.

I personally feel that bringing more men into nursing would be a positive step. It would allow men to find fulfilling careers, where they can make a real difference in people’s lives. And it would allow elderly men to feel more comfortable being bathed, changed and dressed. And in an age where gender equality is prized, it’s time that we made it work both ways.

What do you think?