Quite a few of the young men that I know desire to go into ministry. This is, indeed, a great calling and I believe that God will work wonders through them whatever they do. But I highly doubt that any of these men ever considered making nursing a full time ministry.
I’ve only been in nursing school for a bit over a month and I’ve already washed the bodies of God’s beloved, listened to their concerns, and prayed for patients who I’ve known for less than six hours. If that’s not ministry, than I don’t know what is. So why is such a small percentage of my nursing class male?
There are a few things that come to mind when I first think of the word nurse. They are caregivers. They are the people who take your temperature, height, and weight when you first go in for a doctor’s appointment. They clean people. They replace bandages, they give out medicine and, they follow the orders of a doctor. They are also an advocate for their patients. This means that if something seems wrong, if something does not look right or is of concern, then the nurse is responsible for informing the doctor and getting the patient the help they need.
This is not to say that doctors or physical therapists do not have a responsibility for the patient as well, but it is to say that nurses interact with the patient the most frequently, and so have better knowledge of what it is that a patient needs.
One thing that a patient may need is spiritual care. Spiritual care can be something as simple as listening to a patient’s concerns, providing them with a nice warm blanket if they are cold, or bringing them a chaplain. Good spiritual care will meet a patient where they are and help comfort them or bring them peace. It does not necessitate religion.
For a Christian nurse, the hospital is not a ground for proselytizing but it is a ground for showing God’s love to others through caring and love. After all, Jesus healed those who were in need and His followers today still strive to treat others well and care for them. Action is the language of a nurse and any explicit conversation about Christianity will take place only if the nurse feels that the patient is in need of such care.
So this is where ministry comes in. People who worry about their illnesses need prayer, people fearful of death need prayer, and people who think God has abandoned them need prayer. Many of these people can be found in the hospital. What a great place to learn to minister to others.
The Church encourages men and women alike to go into ministry and men continue to lead ministries that bring others to Christ. So if The Church values men who lead traditional church ministries, it ought to value the men who work in nursing because that is a ministry as well. The Church might consider encouraging nursing as a vocation to a Christian man considering going into ministry,
The Christian Church can attest to seeing the care men can take in loving others and being a servant; let’s encourage more men to be nurses.
But do men want to be nurses?
Social stigma has painted a picture of the female nurse and given society the idea that men have nothing to offer to the role. Yet men can offer some things to nursing that woman cannot. They are naturally stronger than most women, providing for a strong hand when assisting patients in transfers and ambulation. Men also can be helpful in providing care for male patients who would rather be cared for by another male. Men can fulfill the role of a nurse and add their own utility to it.
The nurse’s stereotype is already starting to wear off, but it’s a slow process.
Today only a little bit less than 10% of nurses are male. Within nursing anesthetics, 41% of the occupation is male and they go home with an average annual salary of $162,900.
Nursing also has a need for leadership roles and men can find their way into those roles easily partly because men are generally seen as natural leaders. This would indeed be the perfect opportunity for a man looking for a leadership role in ministry as the mission for Christ would still be retained, but he would also be able to make a living.
Nursing can offer endless ministry opportunities, potential leadership positions, and a reasonable salary to men pursuing Christian ministry.
Serving God as a nurse is only one way that ministry can be developed, but it is a way where one is guaranteed to help the helpless, hold the restless, pray for the needy and be Jesus to someone who may have never seen him before.