National campaigns have been mounted to show that women can – and should – pursue roles in STEM areas (science, technology, engineering and maths). However, there still appears to be lingering stigmas attached to one of the “last taboos” when it comes to men.
We are talking about the misconceptions that surround male medical care professionals. If you are considering a new career in this area – particularly if you are moving from a largely male industry or environment are you still harbouring your own false beliefs?
In 2018, an NHS-backed recruitment campaign ‘We are the NHS’, tried to address this issue and raise awareness of career opportunities for men in the health service. The campaign was judged to be a success, heralding an upturn in the number of male school and college leavers applying to study nursing. Though this shows that attitudes are changing towards healthcare roles, the NHS and private health organisations are well aware that the perceptions about gender are still “bedded” in.
Behind the humour there's an important new career opportunity
Jokes about male nurses are abundant. Also, it's shockingly common for men who are nurses - or who deliver radiography, physiotherapy or occupational therapy services – to be addressed as “Doctor”. There is an assumption that if you are a man, that’s the medical job slot you belong in!
However, career opportunities in healthcare are now as unbiased as they should be. In fact, many healthcare facilities actively encourage men to apply (to be judged equally on their merits) as part of their work to create diverse workforces.
Mike Doak, Senior lecturer in Occupational Therapy (OT) at University of Cumbria say “I didn’t come across OT till I was 23, the first OT I met was a male so I didn’t realise for a long time that it was a female dominated profession. Whenever I do come against prejudice I just get on with it, it nots that dramatically different to careers in other areas”.
What would your mates say?
The patients are not the only ones who jump to the wrong conclusions, of course. It may seem controversial, but how many men are put off from applying for nursing courses, or courses in specialist healthcare fields, because of the potential reaction from their “mates”?
But your true friends or family won’t be making jokes about your career choice if they are the ones whose health and wellbeing depends on your carefully honed skills, and medical insights!
Using all your experience, in an important new career
Let’s be honest here, saving lives is the only thing that matters whatever gender you are, getting someone on the road to recovery from a major injury has nothing to do with what’s under your uniform!
Will there still be patients who look shocked, and who say “but you’re a man!”? Very possibly. However, people you treat, and your colleagues, will quickly come to trust your judgement and expertise.
Simon Godley, Physiotherapy Lecturer at University of Cumbria, “My one piece of advice, be prepared to work hard! Training to become a healthcare professional is not easy whether you are a man or woman, you need to balance work life and study as well as learning new skills in a practical environment. The payoff however is great and it’s a fantastic career in which you will meet a vast array of people.
So, if you are “man enough” to put up with some outdated opinions enquire with us today, to explore the courses offered in vital healthcare roles.