Perceptions of Nursing and Midwifery

The Male Matron

The Male Matron

When one thinks of Matron most people’s minds immediately jump to Hattie Jacques in the carry-on films of the 1950’s.  Matron was known to be a formidable figure, a woman of staunch authority who kept our hospitals in check.  Matrons ruled the ward and their word was law.

A key word in the above paragraph is “Woman”.  The term Matron is intrinsically linked to the female sex, indeed the Oxford Dictionary defines a matron as a “A woman in charge of domestic and medical arrangements at a boarding school or other institution”. 

Throughout my career I have been challenged regarding my chosen profession as a male, I have had the now expected and often direct questions about my sexuality, along with the  follow-on required explanation to answer “So why don’t you want to be a Doctor?”  Iv experienced sniggers, shifting gazes and at times challenges from both patients and staff who simply cannot comprehend the rational of someone choosing to be a “male nurse”.  Surely this is a woman’s job? Surely men should be doing more manly things (I confess I don’t know what this is, hitting things with hammers or something I imagine?), not caring for people or expressing (Shudder..) feelings.

Iv been nursing for over 21 years now and this “perception” of the male role has been something iv been aware of since the start, but it has changed as I have changed.  The questions and assumptions don’t phase me now, iv come to accept that for a small minority, my choice of career may seem difficult to fathom.  Iv worked hard, iv progressed and moved forward.  Iv done my duty in the trenches of a ward/nursing home as a health care and then a staff nurse demonstrating that males can be just as caring as our other colleagues during some very challenging times.  Iv loved every minute of being a specialist nurse, proving without question that a male is just as capable of providing rounded, holistic care to a given patient group.  I was ecstatic to be appointed as a “Charge Nurse”, not a sister, but Charge Nurse.  A recognition that the term sister had female connotations and that actually I was just as important, just as capable as my colleagues but that my title should reflect my gender more appropriately.  This still raised some questions, but I was happy and proud to explain to family, friends and patients that a charge nurse is the male equivalent of a ward sister, a term they all knew and understood.  After all those years I was recognised as being both a nurse and a male in the profession I love. 

Then I became a matron.  “A woman in charge of domestic and medical arrangements at a boarding school or other institution”.   

Iv stepped back 8 years, im having to justify my role to those who are more familiar with Hattie than the modern NHS, im explaining that I don’t understand or know why there isn’t a “male equivalent” title, im receiving the sniggers once again, and so help me god if I receive one more Kenneth Williams “Ohhhhh Matron’s” from my friends I may implode.

We talk a lot about perceptions of nursing, about how we can attract more diversity into a predominantly female workforce, how we encourage the youth of today to better associate with the fantastic variety or roles within the NHS, and yet our very descriptions, our job titles remain strongly aligned to one distinct sex.  Perhaps if we want to encourage more into the service its time for a rethink about how we label ourselves?  We are one diverse NHS, we are one large diverse workforce, surely our titles should reflect this, standardised NHS wide so all patients and all staff know without doubt who they are speaking with, without the need to explore or question.  I call for a de sexualized NHS title review, standardisation throughout the land, and a burning of all copies of “Carry on Matron”. Easy

Once we’ve cracked that perhaps we can then get everyone of similar roles into the same colour uniforms, imagine a standardised NHS uniform!  But surely that’s just crazy talk…

To round up my ramblings, over time iv become very  comfortable in my role/place in the world, im proud that I don’t define myself as a male nurse any more, my gender or sexuality for me doesn’t enter into it, I care, I feel, I provide and I support. 

Simply put, I am a Nurse.

What inspired you to write this blog?

To promote a change in views/thoughts about the titles we use.  Also strongly believe we need a NHS standardized uniform/title structure.s

What is your role?

Matron

What are your nursing and/or midwifery qualifications?

Masters level

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