The 5 most common nurse stereotypes

Posted on August 28, 2013 by in Nurse Stories

stereotypesI’m not sure why or where this stereotype came from, but it annoys the hell out of me.

I’m not homophobic nor do I dislike homosexuals, but I do have a problem when my patients automatically assume I’m gay because I’m a nurse.

I admit, I know a few gay male nurses, but most male nurses I’ve met are straight and married with kids.

It isn’t so much that I’m offended, as it is I’m annoyed.  In short, it’s total hogwash.

Nurses Are Med School Washouts

Out of all the stereotypes, I find this stereotype the most amusing; clearly, this stereotype was created by those whom benefit from it, i.e. physicians.  If I wanted to spend the time, money, and effort on medical school, I would.  As a nurse, I heal.  Physicians diagnose.

Nurse Ratched

Over the last few years, I’ve met and worked with a few stern and hateful nurses; in fact, I’ve met some nurses who resemble Nurse Ratched; these nurses, for whatever reason, are nasty, brutish, and overall offensive.

I’m not going to apologize nor minimize these nurses and their negative effect on our profession or their patients, but they exist and need to be eradicated from our profession.

Personally, I’ve filed two written complaints against two nurses whom embody the attributes of Nurse Ratched; both nurses were, unfortunately, bullies, prima donnas, and histrionic.  Nevertheless, 99% of us aren’t Nurse Ratched; most of us will not, under any circumstance, bully a patient.

Nurses toil for Physicians

I find this stereotype laughable, as it’s utterly ridiculous.  I’m stopping here.  Need I say more?

Nursing is a Female Profession

Since the inception of modern nursing, most nurses were women; nonetheless, that was 30 years ago.  We’ve entered a new age; an era where it’s unacceptable to link a profession to a specific sex and/or gender.  I, like the gay nurse stereotype, abhor this stereotype, as it is absolute nonsense.

The Naughty Nurse

I know a lot of nurses and most aren’t naughty.  Sure, I’ve met a few nurses whom are promiscuous, flirtatious, and ooze sexuality, but this isn’t abnormal: it’s human.

I don’t know about you, but I find both men and women whom flirt, sleep around, and are hypersexual, regardless of their profession.

In the future, opinions will change; until then, we’re stuck with these stereotypes.  I don’t know about you, but I’m going to prove them wrong.

What other stereotypes do you witness?

About Joshua Felts RN

Joshua holds a BSN in Nursing, and two bachelor’s degrees, one in economics, the other in history. If you’re a patient, be careful. You might get a dose of ancient Roman history and a lecture on economic theory while having your blood drawn.

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27 Responses to “The 5 most common nurse stereotypes”

  1. Avatar of Penete
    Penete 28 August 2013 at 3:40 PM #

    I still witness other staff, patients , and visitors exhibiting the stereotypical belief when they encounter a male staff nurse, that he just has to be gay. Maybe some were, maybe some weren’t. How would I know unless they told me. One’s sexual orientation is not an issue to me, and I would not even venture to guess or ask the male nurse. But what we all should remember is the sexual orientation, race, religion, or creed does not matter. The issue is whether they are a competent and trustworthy nurse. The male nurses I have worked with have been .
    The other stereotype that I encounter frequently is the “female maidservant ” type of persona. I have experiences this from many patients , young and old, male and female. I still cringe when I have an elderly female patient who will say that she refuses the male nurse or CNA for incontinent care , toileting , ect. My thought on this is that if you are that sick , you are too sick to care if the person who comes to help you is male or female.
    I am a female nurse and when I became a nurse there were no male RN’s working at my hospital. The mentality back then when you graduated high school was well what do you want to be , a schoolteacher or a nurse.
    We have come a long way from that now in this society, and hopefully we can evolve even further to accept our coworkers and not have sexual preference, gender , race, or any of those other foolish hang ups influence us or matter to us.
    A good nurse is a good nurse period .

    • Avatar of Dawn Bintz
      Dawn Bintz
      8 November 2013 at 7:40 AM #

      While I agree with your comments almost 100%, the part about elderly females refusing cares from a male nurse or CNA does have a flip side and that deals with their religious beliefs. I have 2 elderly female residents that due to their religious beliefs are opposed to male caregivers for pericare. While sometimes this may cause a brief delay in their care while locating a female they understand and appreciate our respect of their beliefs. I once had a male PCT while hospitalized and needed assistance and it was somewhat awkward for me because I was unaccustomed to having a male caregiver, but he was what we would hope all caregivers would be: professional, competent and compassionate. Have a great day and may you continue to be a great nurse! :)

  2. Avatar of Stacy Sessions
    Stacy Sessions
    28 August 2013 at 10:14 PM #

    I agree with the above comment. I think the male nurses are an asset to nursing as I also feel the females to be. If you are Gay ect as long as you treat your patients with respect and the best quality of care for them thats all that matters to me,also we all need to be team players,I dont care if you are a so called Rn,Cna,Lvn,Md lets all work together and no matter what title you are no need to act like you are better then the next nurse,Md whatever.

  3. Avatar of Jacob Mearse
    Jacob Mearse
    28 August 2013 at 11:05 PM #

    I still get flak from Docs, even female ones, when female OB/Gyn patients require pelvic exams, and I volunteer to assist. I still sometimes get, “I need a female nurse”. Never mind that I have a year of L&D experience, and am a former SANE, and train other nurses in performing pelvic exams. I guess my having testicles is just too much for me to overcome! Funny that no one ever questions the female nurses when they need to place a foley in a male patient…….I’d really just like to be judged as a good nurse, not as “that male RN”.

    • Avatar of Mike Finckbone
      Mike Finckbone
      29 August 2013 at 10:13 AM #

      So I’m still in my student phase but I have been asked to place foley’s in male pt’s because the pt refused to allow a female nurse to do so for them.

    • Avatar of deafrninsc
      deafrninsc 1 December 2013 at 8:37 PM #

      Truly…
      I look at at it as not because of your genitalia but more as respect for boundaries.
      I am a conservative. I feel that my body should be respected. I want a female because she makes me comfortable knowing I’m not putting myself in a compromising position. A man and woman aren’t supposed to be in that situation. As a preference I want a female to care for me regardless of orientation. I do treat males and personally I don’t think about the care but always ask if he is comfortable with my care.
      Respect is what it all comes down to.
      Just my opinion.

  4. Avatar of Rachel Fitzmaurice
    Rachel Fitzmaurice
    29 August 2013 at 8:58 AM #

    When I decided to go to school to become a nurse, I was asked by nearly every family member and friend why I was “just going to nursing school” instead of medical school, because I am “so smart and have so much potential, you could be a doctor!”. As if there is no such thing as an extremely smart nurse! HA! I wish more people understood the role of a nurse is a completely separate role and profession from that of a medical doctor. I do my best to interject and educate anyone I hear saying otherwise.

  5. Avatar of Mike Finckbone
    Mike Finckbone
    29 August 2013 at 10:14 AM #

    I get asked often by people if I wasn’t able to get into med school when I tell them I’m a student nurse, I think perhaps especially as I’m a male.

  6. Avatar of TheNurseGuy
    TheNurseGuy 29 August 2013 at 5:03 PM #

    Im a male student nurse as well, I have been asked “why not be a doctor” I simply tell them “I like halping them, not telling somonelse how to help them” and as for the gay thing People need to open their eyes a little. They just need a little teaching. ;)

  7. Avatar of Richard
    Richard 30 August 2013 at 6:33 AM #

    I have had so many look at me sadly, deeply considering how unfortunate I am, and say to me “It is such a shame that you didn’t go to medical school.” I realize that the same folks that say this to me are all the while thinking that I must undoubtedly be gay, for why else would I choose to be a nurse rather than a doctor. Oy, vey iz mir.

  8. Avatar of Joe Byars RN
    Joe Byars RN
    31 August 2013 at 6:13 AM #

    I hate when I am described as “a male nurse”….I am an RN, doesn’t matter if I am male or female….deep down in my heart, my passion is being a nurse. I am proud to be an RN and wish that “male nurse” thing would just go away!!

  9. Avatar of Catt S.
    Catt S. 31 August 2013 at 12:25 PM #

    I love being told that I’m “too young to be a nurse”. I’m 22 years old, I work in the ICU and I love every minute of it. I went to nursing school right out of high school because I knew this is where I wanted to be in life. I’m constantly told, not only by patients and families, but also by coworkers that I’m “too young to be a nurse” and asked how I can possible be a good nurse being this young … that’s one of the most frustrating things to ever hear.

  10. Avatar of Jason Hautala RN
    Jason Hautala RN
    31 August 2013 at 2:55 PM #

    Catt: Enjoy it while it lasts. Before too long people will be asking you how it was like to work with Florence Nightingale and whether you thought indoor plumbing or antibiotics has had a bigger influence on public health.

  11. Avatar of LisaRN
    LisaRN 3 September 2013 at 1:16 AM #

    I’ve seen all of the above and it’s ridiculous. I’m especially irritated by the “lazy nurse” stereotype. I hate it when patients tell me they had to wait fifteen minutes for their soda on the previous shift because the nurse was lazy. When I know we are working short staffed and on the best shift may pee once if we are lucky. For some reason patients and family members seem to believe if we aren’t there in 2 minutes from the call light bell we are sitting at the nurses station gossiping, or my favorite sleeping! I love to hear “I didn’t mean to wake you, or I’m sure y’all have to eat lunch sometimes but I needed that ice! These are educated people! They seethe traffic in the hallway , they hear the codes called, yet still the nurse is just lazy! :(

  12. Avatar of Peaches36
    Peaches36
    3 September 2013 at 7:34 AM #

    It is a shame that male nurses are labeled gay because they are in touch with their feminine side. The love of their mother and sisters shine through as well as the love given by grandparents. A man who has a father in the home is a more grounded, compassionate healthcare provider than one who was fatherless. I love male nurses. Keep up the good work.

  13. Avatar of Melvin
    Melvin 7 September 2013 at 12:21 PM #

    I’ve been a RN since I was 22 also and then went and did pre-med to make my parents happy. I made a conscious decision to not go to medical school since I was happy being a nurse and felt I could better help people. I am now in semi-retirement and looking back on it could not be happier with my decision. Sure I’ve had plenty of people ask if I couldn’t cut it as a doctor and love the look on their faces when I tell them I chose not to be a doctor and that I thought most doctors would not be able to function as a nurse.

  14. Avatar of Christina Hubbard
    Christina Hubbard
    12 October 2013 at 3:36 PM #

    Wanna know whats worse…. when people say well I would like a RN or why are you not a RN or oh your a Lets play nurse… that irritates me to NO END!!

  15. Avatar of Allen Bright
    Allen Bright
    12 October 2013 at 6:29 PM #

    I have been a registered nurse for over 20 years and earned the title when I was only 20. I have not once had a single person ask me was I a Doctor reject or any other derogatory comment in such fashion. If anything, I have been referred to as the Doctor, in which I have to clarify my role as a healthcare team. I conduct myself in a professional manner and provide excellent care. I personally don’t care what people say or think about me. I was a male when it was a predominately all female profession. proving t men can provide optimum care and compassion as a female. For this to be posted as ” The Gay Nurse” is a total ignorant and poor taste of titling. One’s sexual preference should not be of concern when your in the clinical setting. If your aren’t comfortable with your sexuality and mannerism’s then EAP programs with your HR department might be for you. I am proudly a GAY male. The only problem I have is when the ladies want me and the guys get upset wishing it was them or patients over reaching boundaries asking about my personal life which I proud to share with them. So leave your penis in your pants and get over it!

  16. Avatar of Jen N Earl Munson
    Jen N Earl Munson
    8 November 2013 at 2:26 PM #

    Wow. Can we delete Allen’s comments as his ignorance is astounding? Your drama in your retort is exactly why my pediatric LVN husband has to put up with crap. Your patients want you? Keep your penis in your pants? Good grief. Drama drama.
    As an female RN, I watch first hand how male nurses are degraded, and I am usually the first to jump in and defend them, for as I stated my husband is an LVN, for over 20 years now. People assume he’s either a doctor simply because he’s a man, or must be a pervert because he works with kids. Thank goodness he’s military, and has a wife and 2 kids or rumors would fly!! We’re insulted when people think we’re MDs (nurses and DAMN proud of it, we answer) or think we’re med school drop outs. Everything Joshua talks about in this article is true to some degree, for almost all male nurses I fear, and it’s sad. Truly sad. I just met with a family last night who until meeting my husband, thought all male nurses are gay perverts who were molested as children. What???!!! That’s the most ignorant, undereducated statement I’ve ever heard, and it was our pleasure to set them straight.
    Thank you for this article, Joshua. If it was sexism against us women, we’d never hear the end of it, but because it’s a male issue people act like its taboo to talk about. It’s 2013. We need to wake people/patients/co-workers up!
    My husband is currently the first male LVN teacher in our local college’s history. Really? That’s not ok, but we have no problem blazing the trail for others. Jump on board, or keep the male nurse bashing to yourself, I say!

  17. Avatar of scrubdoogie
    scrubdoogie 8 November 2013 at 5:30 PM #

    It really offends ME that this story starts off by a “male nurse” that DOES have a problem with patients assuming he is gay! or “annoyed”. I guess myself, a GAY nurse and proud of it, it does not bother me in the least what they think of me, with the exception of doing my best at my job! In which I am proud of my performance as is my superiors and patients! Conclusion: Homophobia….
    I have never had an issue with patients or families about my conduct as a male nurse. As far as female patients go, I respect them and do what I can to make them comfortable, even if it means exchanging assignments with another “female” nurse! Patient comfort is one of my top priorities!
    Thanks for reading my rant! lol

  18. Avatar of CH
    CH 30 November 2013 at 3:11 PM #

    I am a nurse and know that I could never have gone to medical school. Physicians know way more about diagnosing, treating, and managing a patient’s condition than nurses could ever dream to know.
    I’m sorry but saying that you CHOSE not to go to medical school is not fooling anybody. Either you knew you wanted to be a nurse forever and never considered being a physician, or you tried to go to medical school and failed somewhere along the line.

  19. Avatar of Faye
    Faye 27 December 2013 at 6:34 PM #

    CH, I will by your comments assume that you are not a critical care RN or LPN/LVN.I worked in critical care for 27 years and I could have gone to med school. Who wants the additional pressure of call and late office hours?
    I have digressed from the subject, sorry.
    I had rather work will a male nurse any day. They call it how they see it and it is over. No drama.
    faye

  20. Avatar of Olatracy
    Olatracy 29 December 2013 at 2:25 AM #

    Reacting to anything anybody says about you if it does not jeopardize my job or calling in life is a share waste of time. Whether you are what they think or say you are should not bother you one bit. There are better issues to focus on. You will be talked about anyways. Feel sorry for their ignorance and lack of exposure. That’s all I got to say.

  21. Avatar of David A VanTassel, RN, CNOR
    David A VanTassel, RN, CNOR
    16 January 2014 at 7:59 PM #

    This whole gay male nurse thing is over the limit. Tell me honestly that anyone on here has never met an RN who is a lesbian. Being a gay male nurse as I am, I have graciously received some digs as well. I am most willing to debate with anyone on this site about how many times straight female nurses take a call room at night soon to be joined with a male physician. But that seems to be overlooked, doesn’t it? I would much rather be known as a gay male nurse rather than the operating room whore.

  22. Avatar of Cassandra Dianne
    Cassandra Dianne
    24 October 2014 at 12:18 AM #

    Let me start by saying that being gay is not a bad thing. Being hyper sexual is not bad. Neither of those things make you bad people or make you bad at your job. Being able to know you could make it in med school but choosing to be a Nurse is a great thing! The Nursing profession needs those people. I think we should all care less on what people assume about us because of stereotypes because none of those things mean we are bad at what we do!! I get that general assumptions in general are annoying because stereotypes class us all into being one sort of category and we are all people and individuals!! Some are gay, some straight. Some are more intellectual than others. Some are young and some are old. But as long as you believe you are doing what pleases you and are doing the best for your patients and yourself none of us should have anything to prove. I’m more annoyed at some that are attacking each other because of what they’d rather be perceived as or just straight up insulting them. You don’t know the person you are talking to. You don’t know their personal life, history, work ethic or intellectual level. We are taught in life and school not to judge a book by a cover. With media and society in general there’s always stereotypes, it’s unfortunate really but we as Nurses should know better.


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