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Breaking the Beard: My Life as a Male ER Nurse

Breaking the Beard: My Life as a Male ER Nurse

Hello, everyone. My name is Mike and I am a registered nurse working in the
emergency department in a busy hospital on the West Side of Chicago. I have
been in this profession for over 10 years (4 as an ER Tech) and I love what I do.
But there is one thing that sets me apart from most of my colleagues: I have a
long thick white beard, long hair, and covered in tattoos.ย 

You might be wondering why I chose to grow a beard and how it affects my work
as a nurse. Well, let me tell you a bit about my story and some of the stereotypes
that I face every day.

Why I Grew a Beard

I have always liked the look of a beard, ever since I was a kid. I admired the
ruggedness and masculinity of bearded men, especially those who worked in
tough jobs like firefighters, construction, or lumberjacks. I wanted to be like them
when I grew up.

But I also had another reason for growing a beard: I wanted to challenge the
norms and expectations of society. You see, nursing is still widely considered a
female-dominated field, even though more and more men are entering it.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only about 12% of registered
nurses in 2020 were male. And among those male nurses, very few have facial
hair.

I wanted to break the stereotype that nurses have to be clean-shaven, feminine,
and submissive. I wanted to show that nurses can be diverse, masculine, and
assertive. I wanted to prove that a beard does not make me less of a nurse but
rather adds to my personality and skills.

How I Deal with the Stereotypes

Of course, having a beard as a male nurse comes with its challenges and
prejudices. I have encountered many situations where people have made
assumptions or comments about me based on my appearance. Here are some of
the most common ones:

- Patients think I am a doctor. This happens a lot, especially with older patients
who are used to seeing male doctors and female nurses. They assume that
because I am a man with a beard, I must be the one in charge of their care.
Sometimes they even call me "doctor" or ask me to prescribe them medications.ย I always have to politely correct them and explain that I am a nurse and that I work with a team of doctors and other health professionals.

- I assume some of my colleagues probably think I am lazy or unprofessional.
Some of my co-workers, especially the older ones, have a negative attitude
towards my beard. They think that it is a sign of sloppiness or lack of hygiene.
They wonder how I can keep my beard clean and prevent infections. They
suggest that I should shave it off or trim it down. I defend myself and ask them
how many times they had their hair a week and that I wash my beard daily and
use 8bitโ€™s essential oil line of beard products that make my beard soft and
healthy.ย 

- Strangers always ask if I was in the military or a biker. Iโ€™ve never even rode a
motorcycle in my life. When I am not at work people think that I am a trendy or
rebellious guy who likes to drink craft beer, ride motorcycles, or listen to indie
music. They are surprised when I tell them that I am a nurse and that I work in
the ER. They don't expect someone like me to have such a demanding and
stressful job. They wonder how I balance my work and my hobbies. I always
have to explain to them that I am not a stereotype, but a complex and unique
individual.

Why I love my beard

Despite all the challenges and stereotypes that I face, I still love my beard and I
don't plan to shave it off anytime soon. My beard is a part of me and it reflects my identity and values.

Here are some of the reasons why I love my beard:
- It makes me feel confident and comfortable. Having a beard gives me a sense
of self-esteem and security. I feel more comfortable in my skin and more
confident in my abilities. I don't care what others think of me or how they judge
me. I know who I am and what I can do.

- It makes me stand out and be memorable. Having a beard makes me different
and distinctive. I stand out from the crowd and I leave an impression on people. I
am not just another face in the hospital, but a person with a name and a story.
People remember me and recognize me, even if they don't know me well.

- It makes me connect and relate with others. Having a beard makes me more
approachable and relatable. I can connect with other bearded men and share our
experiences and tips. I can also bond with patients and families who appreciate
my beard and compliment me on it, which happens very often. I can use my
beard as a conversation starter and a way to build rapport and trust.

Conclusion

So, that's my story and my perspective as a male ER nurse with a long beard,
long hair, and tattoos. I hope you enjoyed reading it and learned something new.
I also hope that you will respect and appreciate the diversity and individuality of
nurses, regardless of their gender, appearance, or background. We are all here
to help and heal, and we all deserve recognition and respect.

Thank you for your time and attention. Until next time, stay safe and healthy. And
remember: don't judge a book by its cover, or a nurse by his beard.

- Mike Q.

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