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Male Nurses In a Female World

Posted November. 11, 2005 07:51,   


The image of a “white-clad angel” nurse wearing a cap and smiling is familiar to us. But in this phrase “white-clad angel,” there exists prejudice against nurses. It means the profession of a nurse is suited to females. Whoever heard of an able-bodied man in the same costume?

Thankfully, prejudices are meant to be broken.

EBS is airing “Documentary Theater Matsu: Boys to Nurses” (director Kwak Eun-young• November 14-16, 9:30 p.m.) that explores the everyday lives of men who have crossed into the forbidden land of nursing. Nurses Lee Jun-ha (30), Lee Sang-hun (31) at Ajou University Medical Center in Suwon will be our hosts.

Their stories are as special as their jobs. Not only are they co-workers who’ve graduated from the same high school, they are now living together as roommates. The two nurses chose electrical engineering for their majors in college. But after the IMF crisis, both fell on hard times, and decided to attend nursing school.

Nurse Lee Jun-ha is in his fourth year in at an intensive care unit, and third-year nurse Lee Sang-hun is fighting to spread the word about male nurses throughout the gastroenterology unit. Nurse Lee Sang-hun, who has benefitted from expanding his area of expertise to gallstone removal surgery is unwelcomed by female nurses because he works with radiation and is therefore kept away from pregnant women.

The many predicaments from working amongst female nurses haven’t been easy. Out of the 900 nurses employed at the medical center, there are only three males. Since the hierarchy for nursing is strict, as men who’ve finished mandatory service in the military, it was painstaking to follow orders from younger seniors. Perhaps that is the reason why they befriended the male doctors faster.

The male nurses candidly tell of the minute differences between male and female nurses, such as big, clumsy hands that fumble with needles, slower intuition and tact, and other points. Kwak Eun-young PD noted, “some patients prefer male nurses because they seem to be more reliable,” and added, “we hope the frank demeanors of the male nurses will help in breaking down the barriers between male and female nurses.”