By Joan Runnheim Olson
Casey started out with a career as a biologist. After 10 years spent conducting environmental field research, he married and started a family. With seasonal work the norm for this line of work, Casey needed to explore other career options which would allow him to help support his family and that wouldn’t require a huge time or financial investment. He found a nursing program that would pay for his schooling, providing he committed to working in a geographic area with a shortage of registered nurses. Concerned with how he would be accepted by his female counterparts, Casey’s friends were somewhat apprehensive of him pursuing a nontraditional career. As one of only two males in his program, he didn’t face the challenges many women, and some men, in a similar situation face. The other male student in the nursing program did encounter some problems, but Casey attributed that to the student’s macho behavior.
Stereotypes of what’s considered “women’s work” are still entrenched in our society. Casey gained first-hand experience of gender stereotypes. Many of the older female patients assume he is the doctor. Being more modest, many of these same women request a female nurse for many of their intimate medical procedures. When this happens, Casey and his colleagues trade certain procedures for some of their patients.
Casey attributes his success in a female-dominated environment to being respectful of his female colleagues. Based on his experience, he recommends that males not go in and throw their weight around. After three years of working as an emergency room nurse, Casey really enjoys his career choice. “I receive instant gratification,” he remarks. “I see miracles on a daily basis.