Back in the ‘80s I ran a clinic for the elderly that was housed in an apartment on the tenth floor of a Chicago high rise. My patients came to see me, a nurse practitioner, in the office but in many instances I would later check up on them in their apartments in the building or their homes in the surrounding neighborhood. When my office practice became too busy to make these outside visits, I hired a community nurse.

She was a new nursing grad and an older woman who chose nursing as a second career. I figured as a wife and mother of two children she would have life experience to function independently. I was wrong. Her insecurity and lack of nursing experience translated into an uncaring façade. She left for a hospital position, which provided a more structured environment.

The second nurse I hired was older, too, but with years of public health/community nursing practice. She made scheduled home visits based on the patients’ needs; no one fell through the cracks as they did with the inexperienced nurse. She took blood pressures and monitored blood glucose levels, set up weekly pillboxes for the forgetful patients and started a quality control chart review. Not an especially emotive person, she did her job with efficiency and coolness and soon left to make more money than she did in our not-for-profit clinic.

Enter Dave*

Laura A. Stokowski, Just Call Us Nurses: Men in Nursing, Medscape, posted: 08/16/2012, tells us men tend to choose “fast-paced specialty areas, such as critical care or the emergency department.” But here was Dave, a thirty-something, husband and father of two with a wealth of nursing experience knocking on my door. He was seeking a low tech, high touch job.

Of all the applicants, he was most qualified. I figured my male patients would appreciate dealing with a guy since our office was comprised of all women. But what about the cohort of female patients? I had found them, on the whole, to be reserved, private and at times, overly suspicious of health care providers, myself included. How would these ladies relate to a man performing personal care? I wish I could say I didn’t have these thoughts. But in spite of them, I did hire Dave.

Besides being clinically competent, Dave demonstrated the art of caring. A skill not often credited to men. He was genuinely interested in his patients and employed his knowledge and nursing skills to improve their health and quality of their lives and independence. What more can you expect from a good nurse?

* Not his real name

By Marianna Crane

After a long career in nursing--I was one of the first certified gerontological nurse practitioners--I am now a writer. My writings center around patients I have had over the years that continue to haunt my memory unless I record their stories. In addition, I write about growing older, confronting ageism, creativity and food. My memoir, "Stories from the Tenth Floor Clinic: A Nurse Practitioner Remembers" is available where ever books are sold.


  1. How interesting…it reminds me of a male nurse who took care of my terminally ill cousin in 2007 — a fellow who also seemed to really care for this frail little woman.

    Years ago (in the 70’s) , when I produced educational films, we looked and looked to break down stereotypes and interview a male nurse for a film on nursing careers. Today, I think gender would not play a role.


  2. Great post. I have a friend who is a male nurse and I’m going to send him a link to your blog. I was only sorry this vignette ended so soon. But then we have to wait for the book to get “the rest of the story”, right?


  3. I like this! After all, it’s the personal interest and time spent really listening, not the gender that matters.


  4. Your story reminds me of a male hospice nurse here in town. He is one of the best nurses I’ve ever seen in action. I wonder how many male nurses seek out opportunities to work with death and dying.


  5. I saw this same Medscape article and was hoping someone would blog about it! You beat me to it. I loved my few and far between male nursing students. They had to withstand many negative comments about their choice of profession. I found them to equally masculine and caring.


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