Nursing that pesky Y chromosome
September 18, 2004 -- An article by Colleen Kenney in today's Lincoln Journal Star, "Hunky nurses pose for pin-up calendar," reports that 12 men who are nurses appear in a new 2005 calendar published by the Nebraska Hospital Association in order "to help get more men into nursing and to show it's a job for a regular guy." The piece is a very positive, generally fair look at one effort to help men get over it and join one of the world's great professions.
Most of the article consists of positive profile material about the calendar guys, with an emphasis on their traditionally "male" activities, such as playing football, lifting weights, and shooting turkeys with arrows. Despite the "pin-up" connotations, it sounds like the men appear fully clothed. The piece also includes some very good quotes from the men about their work. One nurse--the weightlifter--wonders: "Where else do you use high technology, biological, psychological, social and physiological sciences on a daily basis while you reap the rewards of public service?" Where indeed, dude. Others stress the fascinating knowledge base of nursing, the profession's flexibility, and that nurses don't get bored.
The piece addresses the stereotypes the calendar was designed to address, as one of the nurses notes that people do tend to assume that he is doing a woman's job, that he is gay (a word it seems he can't quite bring himself to utter), or that he is or soon will be a physician. Of course, campaigns like this themselves arguably reflect some homophobia--we don't see anything here about the gay or effeminate stereotypes even along the lines of "not that there's anything wrong with that." Nursing is a job for all caring, intelligent, hard-working men and women, not just "regular" ones. But as the piece notes, Nebraska faces a severe nursing shortage, and efforts like this may be a generally helpful way to let people know that nursing has much to offer straight men.