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Nursing appealing second career path for many men

By Dawn Brazell | News Center | November 22, 2013

Justin Morris“You have to be ready to go into nursing. It takes a certain maturity level to pursue nursing,” Justin Morris, R.N., said about what it has been like switching to the profession.
Sarah Pack 

Men attracted to nursing just for the paycheck, beware.

That’s what Justin Morris, R.N., has to say to the rising number of men interested in nursing as a profession. Morris, who works in the MUSC Chest Pain Center at Ashley River Tower, said he sees nurses in it just for the money do not stay long.

“You have to be really interested in what’s going on with the patients. The nurses I work with who get burned out in the field are the ones who are doing it for the paycheck.” It’s not a career for everyone.

In the beginning, Morris, 29, thought that was true for himself.

Morris was in retail management and decided he wanted a more stable type environment and a career with a growth path. He went to a career advisor who directed him to nursing. Morris was intrigued by the idea, but family and friends questioned whether it was the right choice. His first day of class the professor was using words he’d never heard, so he quit.

Morris, who tried a banking job, realized it wasn’t as satisfying as what he wanted, and he couldn’t get the idea of nursing out of his head. After a year, he started back to school getting the prerequisites he needed to have. He persevered, graduating from Georgetown Technical College in Dec. 2009. He worked at a medical center in Sumter before coming to MUSC in August 2012.

“You have to be ready to go into nursing. It takes a certain maturity level to pursue nursing,” Morris said.

The field has pleasantly surprised Morris.

“There’s this thought of nurses just giving drugs and handing out medications. You have your techs who do more of the bathing and cleaning. When I got into it, I realized it was a lot more than what a lot of people think. Nursing isn’t just about giving a medication or reporting a vital sign to a doctor. It’s a lot more hand’s-on.”

Like many other men in nursing, Morris enjoys the fast-paced excitement of critical care. “You only have patients for a few hours. In an emergency department, you can make a difference quickly. Things are always changing and you get different types of patients as well,” he said of the wide range of ailments seen in an emergency setting. “We see everybody who walks in. It can be a child or a female who’s going to have a baby.”

Morris recalls a moment when he was doing CPR on a patient who started yelling at him to get off his chest. He grins. That doesn’t happen often in banking.

“I can’t think of anything that I’d rather do than this,” he said.

Sarah Pack
 Like many other male nurses, Morris enjoys the fast-paced excitement of critical care.

Because MUSC is a Level 1 trauma center, the sickest patients come to the hospital. He likes the challenge of that, and he has seen his bedside skills grow. “Here I can make them more comfortable and spend more time with them. A lot of times the family members are really excited. You tend to get as excited as well. I’ve learned to stay calm and listen to what they have to say, and that generally calms them down as well.”

Occasionally nurses have to deal with patients who are more violent and aggressive, and it can help to have males on staff. It helps to have a variety of people working together to handle certain situations, he said. Sometimes patients with female health concerns will ask for a female nurse, but generally patients are fine with male nurses. He hopes to see more men enter the field. “It makes for a different work environment when you have a mixture of male and female. The diversity is good.”

His advice to men who may be interested in nursing is to ignore the stereotypes. “If they are interested, I’d say go for it, even if it means you need student loans because it’s a great investment. It’s not all about hanging meds and changing bedpans because you get to not only take care of the patients, but to also take care of the families. There are a lot of psychosocial skills to provide. You have to be concerned with their home life and if they’re OK at home and why did they wait so many days to come in and be seen.”

At the end of the day, though, Morris leaves satisfied. He found in retail management that he carried more of his stress home. “I can clock out and go home and leave it at work. With nursing, if you do everything you can to take care of a patient, it makes it easy to go home and not stress about it and worry.”

Morris admits there are tough days, especially when patients aren’t doing well. He does what he can in the moment, even if it’s helping a family cope with grief or find ways to reduce their stress level. It’s a skill he definitely has had to learn.

“It’s inspiring to know that when I come to work I can make some kind of difference with patients and with their families. If we have a good outcome and a person feels better, then that’s inspiring to come to work.”

  To read more on men in nursing, see these stories.

Thomas Hubbard  Luc Gagne 
The military link to nursing How men in nursing impact the profession Nurse finds calling to profession a passion 




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Resources >>

MUSC College of Nursing

MUSC Bulletin: College of Nursing

American Assembly for Men in Nursing


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