Nursing was not Zee Brickles’ first choice as a profession.
In fact, he spent most of his childhood dreaming of being a paramedic, until he
completed matric and his circumstances left him with few choices.
A classmate convinced
him that nursing could be an avenue into emergency medical care that could
later lead to him becoming a paramedic. Almost two decades later and despite
the stereotypes often associated with men in nursing, Brickles is now Netcare’s
head of nursing.
Selvador Bruiners, nursing manager at Netcare Blaauwberg
Hospital, has a similar story. A rebel at heart, he wanted to be a minister of
religion when he matriculated – then “life happened”, he says.
Caring for patients
over two decades
Drawn by the incredible respect with which nurses were
regarded and the pride they took in wearing their uniform, a friend, Sr Sarah
Masimila, who still practices nursing in Port Elizabeth, convinced him to
consider the vocation. In his 26 years as a nurse he has never looked back,
Despite men being the minority in what is still widely
considered to be a profession for women, both Zee and Selvador found their
niche in nursing, as it allowed them to fulfill their passion for caring for
They also credit incredible mentors who honoured the values and
traditions of their profession, which inspired them to remain in this career
and focus on continuous learning. They incorporated this into their goal of
becoming nurse leaders who promote nursing with competence, confidence and
Motivated by their passion for their jobs and their own
achievements, Brickles and Bruiners are committed to improving the
representation of men in nursing and are encouraging males to join the ranks of
phenomenal male and female nurses.
International Nurses Day
As countries around the world celebrate International Nurses
Day on 12 May, the birthday of the founder of modern nursing, Florence
Nightingale, the role males have played in the occupation should not be
forgotten. “Several millennia ago, men dominated the profession. The world's
first nursing school was founded in India in about 250BC and only had male
students,” says Brickles.
Bruiners is in the process of establishing a forum, Men in
Nursing (SA), to provide a framework for nurses to meet, discuss and influence
factors which affect men as nurses. The forum will be aligned to the American
Assembly for Men in Nursing (AAMN), he says. Bruiners is liaising with the
co-chair of the membership and new chapter committee of AAMN’s board in
Richmond, Virginia, in this regard.
Bruiners says the nurses he has contacted over the past few
months have shown keen interest in forming such a forum in South Africa. “The
response was phenomenal and we expect the forum to be launched in the last
quarter of 2013,” adds Bruiners.
The role of the forum
The Men in Nursing (SA) forum will have the following role
once it is fully operational:
- Offering support and encouragement to all males
in nursing for the purposes of professional growth and highlighting men’s
contribution to the nursing profession.
- Encouraging research initiatives, education and
information sharing on men in nursing and nursing knowledge at all levels.
- Supporting other nurse-friendly initiatives,
movements and organisations to enhance the image and status of the profession.
- Compiling and publishing an online newsletter
for information sharing, networking and educational purposes.