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Men Nursing: A Historical & Feminist Perspective

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Introduction:

This essay will critically review Evans' (2004) article titled 'Men nurses: a historical and feminist perspective,' outlining her main arguments and opinions. A number of questions will be answered regarding the history of men in nursing and aims to assess the writer's background, supporting evidence and particular assumptions she might make about the reader of her article. Inequalities and attitudes between men and women in nursing will be discussed in further detail.

The writer, Joan Evans writes from a historical and feminist perspective, exploring the evolution of nursing with particular focus on the Nightingale reform. Evans' utilises historical facts in order to support her main argument. Her feminist views are predominantly noticed throughout her article, especially in endeavouring to prove that men have been excluded from the nursing profession. This can be clearly seen in the following quotation of Mackintosh that Evans refers to in her article, "The history of nursing is almost exclusively a history of women's accomplishments, despite the fact that men have worked as nurses since the profession's infancy." Mackintosh (1997, cited in Evans, 2004, p. 321).

The writer's advanced academic background has influenced the way in which Evans constructs her article making a strong focus on highly sought after statistics and theoretical research in order to prove her arguments and opinions. In evaluation of the writer's background academic qualifications as a Registered Nurse, (therefore having clinical experience), having further studies at PhD level and working as an Associate Professor, School of Nursing, Dalhousie University, Canada, Evans' writings are inclined to have an impact on her audience. The reader's are more likely to be convinced or influenced to take action and view her arguments with high regard due to this level of education Evans has earned.

The writer wants the reader to believe that the declivity in male nurses has had a significant impact on the profession and in order for the profession to develop there needs to be an increased number of men entering nursing. This is proven in Evans' introduction statement, where she speaks of examining the exclusion of men nurses, therefore aiming to reveal the difficulty of recruiting or retaining men in nursing. These main arguments and opinions are verified when the writer comments,

Such insights can increase our understanding of the barriers that impact the recruitment of men in the profession and they are vital if nursing is to develop, not only recruitment strategies focused on men, but more importantly, retention strategies that address current and uninterrupted gender relations that impact all nurses lives (Evans, 2004, p. 321-322)

Evans' feminist views expose inequalities within the nursing profession and consequences of past attitudes on woman being natural to nursing. She endeavours to promote equality in the workforce and shows how these past attitudes have limited men from careers in nursing but in other cases excelled their position as nurses to specialisation causing inequalities for both men and woman.

Evans draws on an immense amount of historical based evidence to support her arguments. For example, "Historical accounts of the monastic movement, dating back as early as the fourth and fifth centuries, indicate that men provided some form of nursing care and protection to the sick, wounded and dying as members of various religious orders" Kingsley (1978, cited in Evans, 2004, p. 322).

When the supported evidence used for this article is investigated in further detail, the writer's intention to convey that men nurses have been excluded due to the notion that women are preferred nurses and therefore have advanced the career of men may be questioned. Research found by sociologist Sargent suggests otherwise. "Since in general men earned more than women, there was additional incentive for women rather than men to withdraw from the workforce to rear children." She follows on to say that this is the reason for the division of labour and that "...in general there have been different sets of occupations in the market, the lower paid for women and the higher paid for men" (Sargent, 1994, p. 269, 273). This contradicts Evans' reason for the hierarchy of roles between men and women in the workforce and the types of career they end up in.

A high degree of strength is exposed in the supported evidence of her article by making continual reference to historical facts and statistics, which brings credibility to her presentation. In particular she illustrates the gender differences between men and women's positions in nursing and highlights times that men have been promoted to more specialised positions, such as psychiatrist or physician. This is evidenced in her referral to the USA census, which reported that the percentage of men nurses had dropped from "...7% of the total nursing population; by 1940....to 2%, and most of these men were psychiatric nurses" (Evans, 2004, p. 324).

The writer assumes that it has become common knowledge that it is preferred by patients for women to carry out nursing rather than men. The statement written in her aim says that"...the ideological designation of nursing as women's work have excluded, limited and conversely, advanced the careers of men nurses" (Evans, 2004, p. 321). In this statement she is suggesting

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