MANUP is trying to show men that there is more to nursing than changing bedpans
In certain respects, Ben Eithun is the typical all-American jock - he stands 6 feet 4 inches, weighs 265 pounds and was once a lineman for his football team at Edgewood College.
But one thing separates him from the rest of the pack: He is a male nurse.
Eithun - a candidate for accelerated bachelor's and master's degrees in nursing - admits that his situation is "not normal" and that he is part of a small minority of male nursing students at Penn.
But a new group that calls itself MANUP - the Men's Association of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania - is determined to change that.
MANUP, of which Eithun is the president, hopes to serve the gender-specific needs of male nursing students as well as bring more men into nursing.
"We want to create an environment for male nurses to come together and to open doors for men to enter into the nursing field," said MANUP faculty adviser Chris Coleman, an assistant professor in the School of Nursing.
Male nursing students "need a place to talk about specific issues that affect them," Coleman added, ranging from problems with their girlfriends to strategies for success.
For one of its first major events next spring, the group plans on inviting Eagles linebacker Dhani Jones to campus to speak about health issues.
Eithun and co-founder Jay Roth got the idea to create the organization after enrolling in a case-study class on aggressive behavior in the spring of 2005. The class had only four students - all male - and a male professor.
"This was something that had never happened before," Eithun said.
They found that they could discuss things among themselves that "you would want to ask students, but not administrators," Eithun said. They soon realized the need for a sense of community among male nursing students.
"I think that men in nursing need to stick together," Nursing sophomore Jake Bevilacqua said.
Coleman believes that MANUP will play an important role in creating awareness among male students about aggression and violence, sexually transmitted diseases and how to do self-checks for testicular cancer.
Among organizations for men in nursing, MANUP is the first to be established at a nursing institution, according to Coleman. That may be because male nursing students are not only a minority at Penn, but in similar programs across the country.
Records show that just 7.2 percent of students in the Nursing School are men.
While this percentage might seem small, it is still above the nation's average for men in nursing - a mere 5.7 percent, according to the National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses.
Penn's Nursing School has also been ranked the most "male-friendly" nursing school by Male Nursing Magazine in recent years.
Despite Penn's success in diversifying the Nursing School student body, many agree that more needs to be done to bring men into nursing.
"More men need to be aware that nurses do more than emptying bedpans," Coleman said. "Nursing students can become scientists, researchers, advanced practitioners and executives," he added.
Bevilacqua agrees. "There are still a bunch of stereotypes about nursing being a female-oriented field," he said. source
The Best Careers in Nursing for Males