Being a nurse
Four males share what it's like
“Luke” Ronny Lucas lost his job in March of 2002, after dodging two prior rounds of layoffs. He’d been a lead systems engineer working on software to land planes at DFW International. After 9-11, the money for his department was re-appropriated to the Transportation Security Administration. Lucas was left without a job and with little desire to remain in that uncertain career field.
“My wife was in nursing school and I had always wanted to do something medical so after looking for an IT job for 8 months I decided to become a nurse,” Lucas said. “I worked in many roles on my way to becoming a nurse from respiratory supply technician to unit secretary, to student nurse and eventually nurse.”
Lucas, who is now a nurse manager for cardiothoracic surgery and the Cath lab at Cook Children’s, graduated from Weatherford College with an associate degree in Nursing in 2005. He was one of three who made it. Two others in his class didn’t stay with it. This is their loss, according to Lucas.
“It’s a very rewarding profession that has more opportunities available than any other profession I know of,” Lucas said. “You can be an ED nurse, ICU nurse, case manager, educator and the list goes on. You have so many opportunities as a nurse that you should never get bored.”
But with all of those options, even in this day and age, male nurses still get teased sometimes.
“One night at a party, an individual didn’t realize how many male nurses were at my house and made a comment about me being a male nurse and wearing a skirt,” Lucas said. “After the reaction from about 10 other male nurses and all of the females, he quickly became silent.”
Darrell Daniel, a nurse manager in Vascular Access, was the only male in his graduating class in 2003. He was a high school teacher prior to going into nursing and was helping with special needs children at camp each year.
He’s taken his teaching skills into nursing.
“I get to help kids through the most overlooked and painful part of being in the hospital, IVs,” Daniel said.
Daniel tells younger nurses going into the profession to be prepared to be treated differently by some; including people thinking that males can’t be as caring or nurturing as their female counterparts. At least in his case, he said that’s definitely not the case.
Jason Brooks may be the youngest nurse in this article, but in his graduating class of 2008, he still only had two other men with him. Brooks is a registered nurse in 5 Main at Cook Children’s, which is a general medical floor.
Brooks has a long history of nurses in his family, including a brother, aunt and cousin. He first got into nursing to become a doctor like one of his brothers. Today, he has aspirations to someday become an orthodontist.
But for now, he’s happy as a nurse. Even though, he sometimes gets mistaken for a doctor.
“It happens all the time,” Brooks says while laughing. “People will be on the phone and say, ‘I have to go, the doctor just walked in the room.’”
Brooks said he gets treated as an equal by his female counterparts, except when he’s needed to help lift a heavier patient or occasionally if there’s a cultural aspect to a family’s care.
“Some male patients are more comfortable to be examined by another male and some cultures would rather have someone of the same sex,” Brooks said. “We care for all types of people. But we always want kids to be happy and have fun. The great thing about my job is that it’s always different. I may see a patient 1 foot long or 6 feet long. The adult population isn’t as diverse. I really enjoy the diversity of Cook Children’s.”
Ken Longbrake, a nurse manager for the Emergency Department, has gotten some good natured ribbing through the years about his profession. He laughs that off, as well as the frequent confusion of what happens when he visits a patient’s room.
“People think you are a physician,” Longbrake said. “When a man in scrubs enters with a stethoscope, they assume you’re a doctor.”
After serving in the Army, Longbrake went to college looking for a career with stability where he had the opportunity to help others. He found it in nursing. As a manager today, he has found that he not only helps the patients, but “I get to care for the caregiver and ensure their needs are met so they can focus on the patients.”
Longbrake calls the staff at Cook Children’s his family. He said it all fits into what he looks at as his calling.
“At some point, we are all in a position where we need assistance from someone,” he said. “Nursing provides me the opportunity to help others during one of the most difficult and scary times in their lives. It’s a special profession. The opportunities in nursing are endless. You can work in a multitude of areas and the profession is not only secure, but rewarding.”