An Explanatory Model for Negotiating Men's Gendered Challenges as Nursing Students
Repository Posting Date2016-03-29T13:10:30Z
Author(s)O'Lynn, Chad E.
Author DetailsChad E. O'Lynn, RN, CNE, ANEF
Lead Author Sigma AffliationPhi Pi
Session presented on Saturday, April 9, 2016, and Friday, April 8, 2016: The gendered challenges men experience as nursing students are well described in published studies from around the globe spanning the past 30 years. Well-known pervasive and persistent challenges include anti-male sentiment; differential treatment; issues around touch and caring; feminization of nursing imagery, culture, and curricula; gendered communication patterns; conflicts with masculinity norms; and the lack of role models (O'Lynn, 2013). These challenges are likely contributory to the reported increased attrition for male students compared to female peers (McLaughlin et al., 2010; Pryjmachuk et al., 2009). Minimal theoretical explanation has been offered for the gendered challenges experienced by male nursing students, and even less has been offered in terms of success strategies designed specifically to overcome gendered challenges, achieve academic success, and ultimately persist as professional nurses. No initiatives designed to specifically support male nursing students and male nurses have been proposed by the National League for Nursing, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, or the American Nurses Association to date. The lack of action is surprising in light of these organizations' calls for greater gender diversity and the Institute of Medicine's open criticism of the lack of men in nursing. Without an exploration of the root causes of gendered challenges for men in nursing, the optimal development of effective strategies is greatly hampered. Gender Role Conflict (GRC) Theory offers great promise as a foundational theoretical framework. Over 35 years of rigorous and systematic research internationally has demonstrated that GRC explains well the difficulties men experience in their lives, and by extension, the harm to self, to other men, and to women in the greater societal context (O'Neil & Denke, 2016). The amount and nature of GRC is highly variable within and among men depending upon context and multiple factors, but when present, GRC is significantly correlated with multiple psychosocial problems including depression, anxiety and stress, low self-esteem, substance abuse, relationship problems, problems with intimacy, problems with bonding with others, discrimination behaviors, violence of all types, and sexual aggression among other challenges. Furthermore, the literature suggests that GRC and related consequences are evident in men of all ages, nationalities, races, sexual orientations, and from diverse environmental and demographic contexts (O'Neil & Denke). Interestingly, GRC has never been researched in the context of male nursing student or male nurse experiences, even though GRC Theory might well explain the nature of the challenges faced by men in nursing. GRC Journey, a process in which men cope with GRC by developing positive masculinity and a respect for self and others, shows promise as a therapeutic approach in the psychology of men. The exact nature of GRC journey and its variability among men is currently under exploration and is presently unknown among men in nursing, though O'Lynn (2010) described its presence among rural men thrust into a family caregiver context. Based on the experiences of men's programs at a growing number of colleges and universities, it is hypothesized that support strategies that foster positive masculinity and self-development to facilitate GRC Journey pathways will improve academic success among male nursing students. Such strategies are virtually absent among student supports provided by schools of nursing. The purpose of this presentation is to propose and explain a model of GRC Journey specific to men in nursing, called the 'Gender Role Conflict Negotiation Model for Men in Nursing.' This model applies GRC Theory to the hypothesized journey pathways experienced as a result of varying levels of conflict that arise from the integration of nursing and masculinity cues/messages. Research that will triangulate findings from quantitative and qualitative methods has begun to evaluate and further develop the proposed model. This research will explore factors that both motivate and inhibit student selection of positive GRC Journey pathways, as well as investigate relationships among pathways traveled and student academic outcomes. The proposed model and associated research are innovative and requisite for the development of theory-based strategies that will support an important underrepresented group in nursing. Upon viewing this presentation, the learner will be able to 1) identify a theoretical basis that explains the gendered challenges experienced by male nursing students, and 2) describe three coping pathways that will either sustain or overcome GRC and its related negative psychosocial consequences among men in nursing.