The Feminist Struggle in Nursing by Sarah Blau
As we each share which school we are going to and what major we will be working towards, I can’t help but feel the judgment my peers put on me when I explain to them that I am a nursing major. To them I am a woman who will be subservient to doctors and other hospital staff, a girl who does not have the dedication to commit herself to medical school or a graduate program. I disagree completely, and I genuinely believe the lack of respect towards nurses is due to ignorance towards the job itself and, on a feminist stance, a gender issue. Nursing is not a job for the weak, both mentally, physically, and emotionally. Nursing is physically intensive, and many older nurses cannot work in hospitals because of the challenges such as moving patients twice their size or performing CPR for hours straight. Not many people understand the level of compassion it takes to care for a sick patient, or the emotional pain that comes from breaking bad news to families. If you know a nurse, you understand the pride that they take in their job and how tough these men and women are.
Nursing offers many advancement opportunities throughout the medical field. With a graduate degree you could work as a nurse practitioner or a nurse anesthetist, and many young nurses decide to travel with medical programs to provide healthcare across the globe. If you practice as a nurse, you will be guaranteed job security.
But even with all of these facts, and despite the growing population of students attending nursing school, women who choose to become nurses are looked down upon. Choosing a career path that is female-dominated does not mean that you are weak or stupid or lazy. Nursing is just as much a STEM field as becoming a doctor, pharmacist, or physical therapist, and should be held to the same amount of respect. Women and men should be able to make an informed decision on the career they choose for themselves without fear of judgment based solely on gender roles. I will be majoring in nursing, and I chose a career in this field because of the wide variety of opportunities offered to me and the hands-on approach to patient care that becoming a doctor does not have. Nursing is not just for women, and it is not a weak choice for STEM majors. I implore you to research the variety of opportunities that any job offers, and to not let gender discrimination get in the way of what could be a wonderful career choice for you.
Sarah Blau is an incoming freshman Nursing Student at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her hobbies include hiking, backpacking, writing, gardening, sarcasm, meditation, and yoga. Her hero is Marie Curie and she hopes to one day get her PhD in Biochemistry.