|The debate surrounding gender in the medical field is highly sensitive and controversial. But when most people think about the inequalities within the sciences, they tend to forget that the odds can be stacked against men, too. Right here at Boston College, a small group of men is venturing into a field largely dominated by women - nursing.
Male nurses are few and far between within the halls of Cushing, but they are successful in their endeavors to break the gender barriers, and they are leaving their mark on their fellow nurses-in-training.
One of these studentes, Tim Pitta, shares his story.
"I wanted to go into the [Connell] School of Nursing because I love dealing with people. I found that this was the best way to deal with them and help them as much as I can. Also, being in the nursing profession gives you so many options. There are literally endless career options to choose from once you become certified," he said. "My family was a little shocked at first, but now they support me totally."
One of the questions that Pitta was faced with in his decision was whether to become a doctor instead.
"You definitely meet some people that question why I want to be a nurse, but for the most part I find that being a male in the profession helps so much. Women are great at the job, they do it so well and do not complain about anything, but there are just some things that being a man can help a lot with; you are always going to run into patients who are on the larger side and need to be moved, and I find being a male in that situation helps sometimes.
"But I definitely feel, no matter what gender, you need a soft side. Nothing is better than seeing your patient smile. I love finding a few minutes just to talk to my patients, nothing makes me happier in a day of work then just talking to my patient about something totally different then their illness. Doctors do not get that side of medicine. I have been around hospitals before and I have realized that doctors cure an illness and nurses cure patients. I didn't want my profession to be so removed from people," he said.
Pitta admits that there have been some difficulties during his studies.
"It took a little while to make the decision but I always knew that I wanted to help people and after talking to nurses who had been doing it for a long time, the decision was so easy," he said
Pitta said it would be nice if the stereotypes surrounding the profession didn't exist.
"I get the 'Focker' joke [from Meet the Parents] all the time," he said. "People are just not used to seeing males in the profession. I think that's a shame, men are needed. It's not the white dress and knee socks profession anymore, it's a roll up your sleeves and get down and dirty. If you're going to do it, you just have to be open-minded and be ready for anything."
Luckily, Pitta identifies the most difficult aspects of the experience as the same as any other student. "The hardest part has to be the classes. Three hour classes are not fun and the tests aren't much better, but it is definitely worth every second to be in class. Without the class, the clinical is worthless because you will just not be able to do things for your patients," said Pitta.
Pitta also said the best part of his experience has to be the clinicals.
"Just talking with my patients throughout the day is great; at the end of the day they have a huge smile for you and it makes you feel like you have accomplished something," he said.
"Also, everyone in the hospital loves male nurses. There are not nearly enough of us, so patients are usually surprised to find out that I am in nursing school, but when they do find out, they are usually impressed with my decision," he said.
Pitta has had a positive experience in his classes as well. He enjoys being a minority because so many of his classmates are outgoing and willing to talk to him.
"I feel blessed. I am around women all day long, and they are so much fun. Everyone is always really friendly," he said.
His teachers are also supportive of his unique situation. Men are in short supply in the nursing school, so those that decide to take that path are made to feel welcome.
"My teachers are all very supportive of me. When we deal with women's health for instance, my teachers are always there for me and help me learn the things that weren't taught to me when I was 13," he said.
The atmosphere is very helpful in general, not just because he is male, but because everyone is generally supportive of each other.
"Everyone looks out for everyone," he said. "I feel like everyone gets along, and I think that is a major bonus to class time and working together in clinicals. Nurses understand the profession so well, and they know how much it means to work together with each other. We are all in it together."
Pitta has decided to use his nurse training to enter the Army ROTC program. He says his family has strong ties to the service, so this aspect of his decision helps his family appreciate his choice.
The Army will help subsidize most of his coursework at BC, and he doesn't have to worry about the next step will be after graduation.
"I feel like I want to go to a forward area, like Iraq, because that will give me the best experience I can possibly get anywhere in the world," he said.
"After that I think I will go back to school to get a master's degree. I'm not sure what specialty I want to do yet, but I would love to get some experience in an emergency room.
"I do not have one regret. Sometimes I try to think if I ever wanted to major in anything else and the answer is no. I feel that nursing and myself are a perfect fit. I love it."source
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