Any man in pursuit or possession of a nursing degree should be aware of the American Association for Men in Nursing. Currently, men in the field are grievously underrepresented and uninformed about career options, the impact of their service, and the overall state of gendered dynamics within the field. The article below explores the function, mission, and vision of the AAMN, and how it can assist men in the field of nursing.
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Advocacy and Opportunity
For many decades, nursing has been touted as an ideal occupation for women—please note the use of the word occupation in place of profession. In consequence, it has become associated exclusively with women, who have long been expected to take a role subordinate to men in society. Nursing, however, is fast-paced, requires intensive training and stamina, and asks nurses to shoulder both responsibility and high-stress levels. Both men and women are nurses, and there is nothing less valuable or capable about any of them.
But men are often effaced in the nursing profession because of this ingrained bias and gendering of the vocation as a whole. Either they must justify why they perform “women’s work,” or they are invisible. According to their website, the American Association for Men in Nursing (AAMN) seeks to actively represent male nurses and men in pursuit of a nursing degree by providing resources, opportunities, scholarships, advocacy, and information about current events in the field.
They also serve as a champion for men’s health issues. The same patriarchal social climate that derides nursing as a domain solely suited to women, who are concomitantly considered the weaker or less capable sex, also renders men less comfortable with examining and discussing vital health issues such as cancer, heart disease, mental health concerns, and other conditions that men are encouraged to silently endure.
Currently, the United States is in the midst of a shortage of nurses. While many factors contribute to this situation, the AAMN actively works to encourage men to pursue nursing. But that’s just one of their objectives. Because of the toxic stereotypes that pervade the public’s concept of the profession, issues that hamper caregiving and advancement of care options remain murky. Gender dynamics within nursing are never explicitly identified or discussed, which can lead to some gross inadequacies and injustices against nursing professionals. The organization seeks to provide a medium in which these issues can be fruitfully explored, unpacked, and solutions derived.
Structure and History
Although men have been nurses for centuries, it wasn’t until 1971 that Steve Miller perceived the need for an advocacy organization that would help support other male nurses. From a small group of men in Michigan, the organization grew to more than 2300 members in just three years. But that was only the beginning. Under the auspices of Luther Christman and Edward Halloran, the organization finally took the name it holds today to better reflect the national spirit and reach of its members. Chapters were formed that would connect male nurses and prospective nursing students across the country with resources for communication and professional development.
While the organization supports explicitly male nursing professionals, part of its mission is to bring all nurses together to humanize and strengthen the quality of care that nurses provide. Because it functions on both the national and local levels, the American Association for Men in Nursing offers those who’ve attained their nursing degrees or are in the process of doing so a valuable medium for communication and a place of recognition in which they can devote their full attention to the issues they face in the field.