In partnership with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing student organization American Assembly for Men in Nursing recently launched a collaborative mentorship program pilot. The program, titled MENtorship, connects registered male nurses with UC male nursing students and is designed to advance the view and quality of male nursing in today’s professional society.
"I think that the general perception of men in nursing is that we are out of place,” says Kevin Milligan, second-year student, president and co-founder of MENtorship. "When the topic of nursing comes up in conversation with friends or family, I am all too often asked, ‘Why not become a doctor?’ I simply respond, ‘Because nursing is my passion.’”
During the spring 2013 semester, each male nursing student will receive the opportunity to be both a mentor and a mentee through an organized hierarchy based on class rank. Under the guidance of a professional male nurse at Cincinnati Children’s or UC Medical Center, seniors assume the role of mentors to junior male nursing students, juniors then serve as mentors for sophomore nursing students, and these sophomores receive freshmen or pre-nursing students as their mentees for the semester. In doing so, every student is able to collectively build both leadership skills by training others and self-development through receiving feedback from older peers.
"The mentor-mentee relationship is unique because it is very individualized,” says Milligan. "Club meetings and events are great for providing members with relevant topics of discussion, but they do not necessarily facilitate the participation of all members. The mentor-mentee dynamic not only facilitates participation, but also allows for each person to tailor their experience to their needs.”
The program was initially inspired by a 2013 American Journal of Nursing article, "Men in Nursing: Understanding the Challenges Men Face Working in this Predominantly Female Profession” (MacWilliams, Schmidt & Bleich, 2013) that identified professional tribulations experienced by men in the field of nursing. College of nursing faculty advisor Gordon Lee Gillespie, PhD, and Cincinnati Children’s senior clinical director Bill Lecher, RN, both serve as managers of MENtorship.
Lecher became affiliated with MENtorship through his role as president of the American Assembly for Men in Nursing and his involvement in male nurse recruitment in the workforce. His current campaign, called "20x20 Choose Nursing,” aims to achieve a 20 percent male enrollment in nursing programs by 2020. For more information see www.aamn.org.
So far, Lecher anticipates success for MENtorship.
"In my opinion, the opportunity for men who are professional nurses MENtoring men in nursing school is the perfect way to be role models and support our successors on a road that is still somewhat less traveled,” says Lecher. "It might sound a little corny, but the MENtorship program creates a mentor family or an intergenerational approach where a professional nurse mentors a senior man in nursing school who in turn mentors a junior, who mentors a sophomore and the sophomore mentors a freshman. Everyone is talking about how cool this is.”
In addition to faculty and staff, MENtorship is overseen by a student-run board of officers, all of whom are currently in their sophomore year of nursing at UC. Treasurer and second-year nursing student Adam Tullius has high expectations for how MENtorship will improve the professional outlook for males in the nursing field at UC.
"I expect it to help male freshman students get into the program, so the sophomore mentors are a very big part of meeting that goal,” says Tullius. "I also believe it will further unite the upper and lower classmen and create a method of communication down through the years on how to succeed. The contacts that the seniors make through the mentor RNs at Cincinnati Children’s (and UC Medical Center) will help them become licensed as they will have an inside contact, a possible recommendation and also valuable advice offered to them.”
MENtorship will run throughout the spring semester and be evaluated in mid-April by the board and members for approval for the 2013-2014 academic year.
"By increasing the representation of men in the field of nursing, we can reduce the social stigma that revolves around us,” says Milligan. "To increase the representation of men in nursing, we must first promote the success of men in nursing––MENtorship is the first step in promoting that success.”