There are 5,000 nurses working in hospitals in Foshan City, Guangdong Province, but only eight are males. Some patients thus often face embarrassment when they are in hospital.
A Mr. Zhang, for example, described how he felt quite uneasy when he was hospitalized with urinary disease and need to use a urethra. His nurse was a girl of about twenty, and every time she had to assist him, the man felt bashful. The female nurse also felt embarrassed. Mr. Zhang asked, ”Why don’t they offer a male nurse to do it?”
Not only do the patients feel inconvenient, but nurses also say it’s beyond their power to do the work. Female nurses also recall how they have to seek the aid of colleagues if a male patient of heavy build needs to be turned over in the bed, adding: “It would be very nice if we had a male nurse here.”
Though the patients feel it embarrassing and nurses are in dilemma, it is still difficult for the hospitals in Foshan to find male nurses. According to officials from the Foshan Sanitary Bureau, there are only eight males among 5,000 registered nurses. And they are all working in mental hospitals, while the nurses in other hospitals are “nurse grandmas” or ”nurse aunts”.
According to Foshan Medical College, it trained more than 30 male nurses in the 1980s, but most of them have gone on to management or other kinds of work and only a few stay in ward nursing. The college hasn’t been able to recruit any potential male nurses this year because it could not guarantee their future employment. The college only has 27 current male students.
Is it because males hold biased views on the occupation, or does nursing not need men? According to Mrs. Chen, a head nurse in Foshan City No.1 People’s Hospital, it is caused by traditional bias. People hold that nursing is just to give an injection and medicines, which needs patience and care. This job belongs to women by nature, so how can a male do it? Moreover, the hospitals seldom take in male nurses for various reasons, which impose restrictions on their employment.
But the fact is that male nurses are greatly wanted in clinical departments in hospitals. Wu Dequan, vice president of Foshan Medical College, said that many nurses in clinical departments are males in overseas hospital besides their male administrative staff. The operating rooms, plus the orthopedics and urological departments in hospitals also need male nurses to distinguish themselves other than in mental hospitals.
(china.org.cn by Shan Xingmei, July 10, 2002)