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Getting Real: Nursing Today

Student Nurse Leader Aims to Inspire Men in Nursing

Male and female nurse in full scrubs looking at an X-ray
Ruben Rodriguez-Negrete, Jr., president of the Emporia Men’s Assembly of Nurses (EMAN), hopes to inspire future nurses and fuel positive conversation around men in the nursing profession.

We recently spoke to Ruben about his experience with EMAN, and how the organization is working to inspire more men to pursue a career in nursing.

Who (or what) inspired you to become a nurse?
There have been a few different people and scenarios that have inspired me — and reinforced my passion — to become a nurse. First, the person who inspired me initially to pursue nursing was a friend I have known since high school and is now a nurse herself. She brought up the fact that not very many men were in the nursing program, or the profession overall. I have always been the type of person who enjoys challenges, so I took it upon myself to pursue nursing and I have loved every moment since being admitted into the nursing program.

Second, I have had a couple instructors who have truly inspired me and reassured me that this profession is definitely for me. Without them and the inspirational conversations that we have from time to time, the journey would have been a lot more difficult.

Finally, I would say the patients with whom I work and get to help during times of need have really inspired me to become a nurse.

Can you tell us a little about the Emporia Men’s Assembly of Nurses and your experience as a member and president?
EMAN is an organization that has only been around for a few years and is a local chapter of the national organization, American Association for Men in Nursing (AAMN). EMAN has four objectives:

1. Encourage men of all ages to become nurses and join together with all nurses in strengthening and humanizing health care.

2. Support men who are nurses to grow professionally and demonstrate to each other and to society the increasing contributions made by men within the nursing profession.

3. Advocate for continued research, education, and dissemination of information about men’s health issues, men in nursing, and nursing knowledge at the local and national levels.

4. Support members’ full participation in the nursing profession and its organizations and use the chapter for the limited objectives stated above.

What are some of the ways in which EMAN works toward its objectives of encouraging male nurses to grow professionally?

EMAN is helping with recruitment of men into our nursing department by reaching out to high schools to try and plant the seed in students early about the benefits and rewards of a nursing career. By communicating with prospective students and being someone who they can reach out to with any questions is the desired outcome for not only us as the current students, but for the program and the future students as well.

In your opinion, what are the greatest benefits stemming from gender diversity in the nursing workforce?
EMAN is an organization that is sponsored by Emporia State University and this speaks about how, not only our nursing program, but also our university backs up our organization and supports our objectives. Whenever I make recruitment visits to other schools, I bring up EMAN in hopes that it will help other schools start up their own chapter and help with the growth of men in nursing.

I was also part of a meeting in our nursing department where I shared some issues to which I related during my time in nursing school, in hopes of initiating conversations that would lead to better outcomes for future men in our nursing program. The biggest topic discussed was therapeutic touch and how some men are intimidated by it. This was an example of an issue some men in nursing face at a national level, and we discussed how we could improve as a local chapter.

I believe the greatest benefit associated with gender diversity in the nursing workforce is having the perspective of both the male and female side. By working together and using both perspectives, we can help develop a better plan of care for patients, which is the ultimate goal.

Is there anything else that you would like to add?

I hope to be a prominent role model for future men in nursing and be someone who they can approach and rely on when having doubts about being in the profession.

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