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Men in nursing: 5 tips to becoming a midwife or nurse

We asked men working in the industry to smash the stereotypes and help encourage the next generation of male midwifes and nurses.

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There’s a shortage of midwives in the UK – to the tune of 3,500. Shocking statistic aside, what’s just as alarming is the lack of males in the profession.

Despite the fact that the Sex Discrimination Act of 1975 made it legal for men to train as midwives, today just 0.4% of midwives in the UK are men. In general nursing, men count for just 11.4% of the workforce.

With both International Day of the Midwife and International Nurses Day on the horizon, the spotlight is on these professions, and it seems there is a light at the end of the tunnel. 2016 set the scene for a new breed of male midwives, with Nottingham based Josh Downey taking the UK title of Midwife of the Year.

Slowly but surely the tide is turning. We’ve spoken to some inspirational men to get their tips on tackling the taboos and breaking down barriers to become a midwife or nurse.

1. Follow your dreams

Ultimately, when it comes to picking a profession it’s important to do something that inspires you and gets your adrenaline pumping.

Donovan Jones, midwife and lecturer at Newcastle University in the School of Nursing and Midwifery, says:

“Do a job you love and have fun with it. Think beyond your gender and remember that the essence of what makes a great midwife is not a hat or uniform, it’s who you are as a caring human being.

“As a male midwife the experiences you share with women and their families will change your life. Remember what you do for yourself you take to the grave, but what you do for others will remain your legacy and life’s work.”

A midwife does far more than deliver babies.

2. Speak up

As a male midwife or nurse you’ll be working in a predominantly female environment but see this as something positive that will help you move forward.

Donovan, says: “Use your uniqueness to make a difference. Help and support the other men you come into contact with.”

That could be other men considering a career in midwifery or nursing or it could be a nervous husband or a scared Dad-to-be.

“People will remember you because you’re male, so always bring your ‘A’ game every day.”

Panagiotis Vakirtzis, a male midwife working at Walsall Healthcare NHS, adds: “If you meet resistance at first, don’t worry.

“After a chat most Dads-to-be seem pleased to have another man in the delivery room.  I can give them reassurance and can work as a bridge to connect Mum, Dad and their little baby.”

3. Be prepared

Contrary to popular opinion, midwifery is not a profession for the faint hearted.

“It can be pressurised and you face lots of unpredictable situations but there’s never time to be bored,” adds Panagiotis.

Jonathan Cliffe, midwife working at Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, agrees:

“In midwifery no two births, no two days and no two women are ever the same. Every day is a special day.”

What’s more, it’s a profession where you never stop learning. If variety and challenge are what you crave, becoming a midwife or nurse could be the just the job.

4. Dig deep and don’t lost hope

As a midwife or nurse it’s irrelevant what gender you are.  What counts is that you care for and respect the women you’re working with.

What’s more, contrary to popular opinion, there’s very little resistance to male midwives or nurses from the mums-to-be.

Stuart Hislop, former midwife, clinical teacher and nurse tutor, says: “When I started my midwifery training in the 1980s there was a lot of media attention and hype around the concept of male midwives, but don’t be put off.  Aim high, keep going, stay positive and do not give up. Dig deep.”

5.Stay informed

Looking to the future, there’s an aspiration to attract thousands more men to midwifery and nursing.

“I would urge any man with any interest in being a midwife to be as informed as possible and recognise the skills of the midwife are not gender determined. Men have been involved in assisting childbirth for centuries and it should not be of concern whether the midwife or nurse is male or female,” adds Stuart.

Feeling inspired?  Want to know more? Check out the most recent nursing and midwifery positions.

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