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The aim of this paper is to account for a study of male nurses' experiences of providing intimate care for female clients. This article avails the results of various qualitative studies, which examined the experiences of a number of male registered psychiatric nurses (RPN) and numerous male registered general nurses (RGN) when in their career and taking caring for female patients (Chapman & Wynaden, 2006). In this paper we employed semi-structured interviews for data collection. The focus of the interviews was an attempt to describe the experience of male nurses taking care of women with a scrupulous emphasis on interventions that involved physical touch.

In both the studies, themes were generated and some are discussed in this paper. In this study, male nurses were often frightened about using bodily touch and they used coping strategies in response to their fears of being accused of inappropriately using touch. There were also a number of factors that influenced the male nurses when using physical touch as an involvement. And therefore the findings gathered suggested that learning about caring for female patients needs to be included in the undergraduate curriculum. This must also be followed by further research on the experience of men while taking care of their female counterparts in the nursing fraternity (Lodge, et al. 1997).  

Globally, nursing has always been a female dominated profession. Nursing education system is encased with a number of gender barriers for male nurses. This is due to the feminization of this process and the profession itself. It should be acknowledged that females are in great numbers as compared to their male counterparts in the nursing profession. Furthermore, another cause of gender bias is what is referred to as social isolation and male are not acknowledged as efficient and appropriate to take part in nursing profession. According to the history of nursing, there is nothing written concerning the history of male nurses who worked in the nursing profession. History has it that books always discuss concerning the role of women in nursing and their work (Egeland & Brown, 1988).

It is clear that most health care members are worried about the presence of male nurses in nursing. When a male joins nursing; they are facing tribulations like adjusting in a female subjugated profession. Males are usually worried as to whether they are likely to be acknowledged in nursing and by other healthcare members. Most doctors also are very negative concerning male nurses in their efforts to take care of their patients. In both the private and government setting male nurses are facing different problem such as; disrespect of male nurses and discrimination therefore, they are provided with very minimal opportunities for growth and development in the nursing profession. For instance, in a place like Pakistan in some provinces male nurses are not hired and administrations of female nurses are preferred (Kelly, et al. 1996).

Most male nurses are faced with various challenges because female nurses feel that they are likely to show signs of resistance in case where mistakes arise. Generally, the experience of male nurse as minority group seems to be that of being faced with lack of social approval, acceptance and adequate role models starting from nursing school. Perceptions of threats to role strain, social isolation, sexuality, and diverse performance expectations reported by male nursing students indicate that very little change has been witnessed in the nursing profession (Egeland & Brown, 1988). Female nurses also are not ready and willing to accept and recognizing the role of male in nursing. In that respect they disrespect them and not regard them as nurses. Also, there are various stereotypes regarding male in nursing such as: they are not caring and so they cannot give care to the patients. Different studies have indicated that even female nurses are not accepting male nurses in a profession they have long treated as theirs. This paper therefore paper reports a study of male nurses' experiences of providing intimate care for female clients. 

Internationally, the number of men joining the nursing profession has faced a tremendous increased. As a move to create a more gender-balanced profession; debate has ensued over how intimate care should be performed as these demands that male nurses be brought closer to women clients. Since there have been no study pertaining to this topic, we therefore wish to provide nurses, healthcare professionals, and clients with a better understanding of the experiences of male nurses as they work with women clients within the healthcare system where they have always felt excluded (Dassen, et al. 1990).  

Over the past two centuries, the profession of nursing has witnessed dramatic developments and changes. Nursing is a profession that began as an art, or genuine caring, by women who nursed sick people. During the early days of nursing profession, women were given the opportunity to provide much of the domestic care to the sick such as: feeding, comforting, bathing, turning and touching the person, as well as ensuring that the environment of the sick room is clean. It later evolved to include an expertise of skills and knowledge, which were supported well with scientific nursing theories. Later in the 21st century, nursing became a holistic, caring discipline supported by all the skills and acquaintance from well-informed nurse professionals. Certainly, the art and science of nursing have gone through evolutionary process, yet both art and science have remained woven through the history of the nursing profession (Evans, 1997).

Chapman & Wynaden, (2006) described the art and science of nursing as a function of the science of nursing into individual, authentic, nurse/patient interaction. After going through repeated interactions with patients, an individual nurse therefore develops a means of defining his/her personal knowledge and expertise as a nurse. After several years of research within the profession of nursing, the expertise of nurses have been defined and documented. The elements of nursing that create key to understanding the practice of nursing include: the art of nursing, the nurse/patient interaction, caring, the science of nursing, presence, sacred space, and finally being. Each of these elements are as a matter of fact very essential since they form part and parcel within the nursing profession. Through the elements a nurse is capable of understanding the basics in regards to where they should begin to take care of the patient.

Generally, the science of nursing is termed as the knowledge, content, and skills within the nursing practice. The ways in which the student nurses learn the science of nursing has long been well researched and defined. Traditionally, the science of nursing is taught through content in the classroom and during skills performed by students in a laboratory and finally the clinical setting which is really vital (Laroche and Livneh, 1983). The process of assessing student nurse learning occurs through examinations and through triumphant manifestation of step-by-step presentation of the skills required for one to be a nurse. It is also evident that the art of nursing is more multifaceted to define and quantify. This art of nursing is experienced independently in each interface of a nurse with a patient. It is also created and developed from the humanness of the nurse in handling or treating the patient. Traditionally, the art of nursing was learnt through behavioral communication skills laboratories, or practice scenarios among nursing instructors. Due to the fact that the art of nursing is knowledgeable in each interaction with a patient; then the indispensable core of nursing exists in a nurse/patient interaction. Furthermore, the element of caring is the perception that intertwines the art and science of nursing in a these interactions between the nurse and the patient.

According to Sherrod & Rasch (2005), the latest statistics indicates that male nurses represent just a small fraction of the nursing workforce in the United States and other nations as well. The popular notion that nursing is not for men and the capacity of admission constraints of nursing schools seem to be major obstacles in bringing more men to the profession.  Even though male nurses are often faced with various challenges of gender discrimination, particularly in specialties like obstetrics and gynecology, where, most women habitually prefer to have female nurses. On the other hand, male nurses often end up in management roles and in specialties like intensive care units, emergency and operating room nursing. The professional presence of men in nursing is to a great extent affected by the following: gender role perceptions, intimate care issues, attitudes, nurse shortage, retention and motivation.

In accordance to the recent study carried out by Keogh and O'Lynn, (2007) to examine the relationship between various demographic variables of a 176 respondents and acceptance of male nurses in the profession through a multiple regression analysis showed that only two of the variables, that is, respondents' educational level and sex, predicted the attitudes towards male nurses significantly.  

Even though most study show an overall optimistic acceptance of men in nursing, they also indicate the need for professional adaptations in major issues such as; men to remain within the nursing profession as drastic development in the profession demands. According to recent studies, it is clear that men joining a predominantly female profession are perceived more deviant as compared to women. A qualitative non-experimental descriptive study aimed at expounding quantitatively the gender role perceptions of male nurses applying the short form Bem Sex Role Inventory has indicated that adherence to the female gender role is essentially precondition to caring and acceptance of facets of the female gender role and my not be inimitable to male nurses (Morgan, et al. 2006).

Recent study into issues of gender also indicates that male nurses are being stereotyped both outside and within the profession as homosexuals, feminine-like, and low achievers. A collective constructionist study aimed at examining the construction of the stereotype of male nurses as gay and to describe the impact on male nurses has also indicated that in spite of male nurses being professionals who care in the similar way as female counterparts, stereotyping them as homosexuals does exist and in turn exposes male nurses to homophobia in the workplace. The role of sex stereotype in nursing has been witnessed to draw out role strains in male nurses by means of a Role Strain Instrument in a sample of 360 arbitrarily selected male RNs in Oregon (Galbraith, 1991). Such cases of stigmatization structure a barrier to patient care since it bur men's entry into the profession and play a main role in problems associated with things like retention. Published evidence also proposes that sensation of men in nursing is disproportionate and male nurses are likely to face gender-based disadvantage as compared to women. Recent research studies have also indicated that male nurses face gender-based barriers at the very beginning of their nursing education programs.

In contrast, studies relating to the effect of nurse gender on nurse and patient perceptions of nurse care by two-factor ANOVA have indicated there is no significant difference in actual caring of the patient by either female nurse or male nurses. Based on nurse gender from either the nurse or the patient point of view, even though, male nurses exhibit lower caring behaviors, some females may also exhibit a similar kind of behavior (Ekstrom, 1999). Studies also recommend that even in female-dominated occupations such as nursing, patriarchal gender relations which is likely to reflect a high appraisal of all that, male and masculine, play a significant role in placing a significant number of men in administrative and elite specialty positions. It further suggests that male nurses employ strategies that enable them to distance themselves from female colleagues and the feminine image of nursing (Evans, 1997).

A semi-structured, open-ended study of male nurses' familiarity with providing intimate care for female clients has identified three themes namely, the emotional experience linked with providing intimate care, the meaning of intimate care, and strategies used to aid in the delivery of intimate care for women clients. A latent content analysis of the data obtained has indicated that provision of intimate care to female clients is a challenging experience on the side of male nurses. This is due to situations that demand invasion of clients' private space (Inoue et.al, 2006). An additional exploratory cross sectional survey study aimed at exploring the role of men as obstetrical nurses through the use of structured and open-ended questions in a sample of 500 male Registered Nurses by univariate, bivariate and logistic regression also has indicated that quite a number of male nurses lack interest in working in the specialty of obstetrics (McRae, 2003).

According to statistics, it is clear that the total number of nurses working in the field of healthcare in the United States has decreased from 2,669,603 in the year 2000 to 2,262,020 in year 2001(World Health Organization, 2006). This shortage has also been witnessed in a number of countries, both developed and developing. This shortage can be defined either by a need based approach or through a ratio technique. The need based approach in this case identifies the number of professionals required in performing given tasks based on the opinion of a nursing or a medical professional. The ratio technique in this case is applied in comparing the current professional populace ratio to a predictable future ratio and identifies a disparity as a shortage (Lane and Gohmann, 1995). Recruitment of more men in the nursing profession may therefore be used as a weapon to counter the increasing significant shortage of nurses.

Through a descriptive qualitative research study aimed at exploring male nurses' motivations to become nurses indicate that their proficient developmental process in nursing, recognize the difficulties hindering their professional growth and identify the strategies they apply to cope with these complexity. In a convenience sample of 15 male nurses has revealed that the difficulties encountered by male nurses throughout their career development efforts are related to the gender expectations of patients and male nurses improve on their professional knowledge and skills with the aim of obtaining higher levels of contentment and better opportunities for promotion. According to a study aimed at increasing the understanding of the career choices of men in nursing through exploration of what they find important in their career, their sex role identity and their personality. Using an Important Components of a Career Scale, Bem Sex Role Inventory, and the Cattell 16 Personality Factor Measure in a total sample population of 1,000 has indicated that male nurses value relationship-oriented components of their careers. And most men seem to be more attracted towards the technical aspect of nursing.

In regards to a national survey carried among intensive-care nurses, with the aim of establishing if male nurses and female nurses can be renowned with reference to career orientation and preference for technical departments has revealed that there is an over-representation of men in technical wards and at IC/CCU units and male nurses seem to be predominantly oriented towards developing their own specialized status (Dassen et.al, 1990). According to a recent study to investigate or survey the motive of men to select nursing as their profession using a 52-item questionnaire covering socio-demographic characteristics, disclosure to the profession and motivation for choosing the profession has shown that an early publicity to the career and cultural background are important factors in this motivation process (Romem and Anson, 2005). A further recent study to explore the motive of men for joining the profession of nursing has acknowledged career opportunities, job security and salary as significant factors. Also the study has looked into sexual stereotypes, lack of recruitment approaches, female-oriented career or occupation and lack of male role models as some of the barriers.

In recent years, nursing schools throughout the world have been forced to go to great length of recruiting more male students from populace that have been traditionally underrepresented in this career; racial and ethnic minorities, men, older people, people with disability, and 'nontraditional' students. In spite of the development of diversity, it does not mean that all the students learn in a welcoming environment, ironically, they undergo through one of the most nurturing professions (O'Lynn, 2004).

Currently, of course, it is illegal to deny any student admission to college or university on gender, bias of race, disability, religion and other similar factors. In most politically correct society, minority nursing students rarely undergo through ethnic and racial slur from instructors, staff members or even students (Morin, et al. 1999). In some cases, however, it is true that most of the students are treated differently and as a matter of fact they suffer discrimination in nursing schools, but currently it is becoming something of the past. As he still hears stories of blatant prejudice from male nursing students--like the one about a professor who said, "I've never passed a male student and you aren't going to pass either"--O'Lynn (2004) believes these situations are happening less frequently these days. He further says that, they are being replaced, however, by a more subtle bias that manifests itself in an educational environment that doesn't distinguish the strengths and talents that ethnic minority and male students bring to the profession.

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