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Nursing: A male nurse’s perspective

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​​Image of Steve Walthers
Steve Walthers is one of more than 20 male nurses who works in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre. The Unit, which cares for some of the most critically-ill cardiac patients in Canada, is staffed by over 130 nurses in total. (Photo: UHN News)

Male nurses are far from an anomaly in a health-care setting in 2015.

The Peter Munk Cardiac Centre is home to over 130 nurses, 20 of whom are male. While pursuing a career in nursing may not be top of mind for many men, those males who have followed through remain a minority who have no regrets.

Steve Walthers is one of them. He is a nurse in the cardiovascular intensive care unit at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, where some of Canada's most critically ill cardiac patients are treated.

UHN News: What made you decide to pursue nursing?

I chose nursing due to the many disciplines that one is able to work within. There are so many different avenues that one may take based on their personal preference. Being able to travel and experience new cities and careers as been very rewarding. Working in Toronto at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre and Toronto General Hospital has allowed me to grow as an individual and professional.

UHN News: As a male nurse, have you found that people are sometimes surprised to hear your occupation?

Initially when I was attaining my education I did receive some comments from some close friends. But, as my career has developed, those friends have heard the many stories and experiences; witnessing the opportunities that I have been granted. This has certainly changed their perspectives and their understanding of nursing and men in nursing. I have many friends now wishing they would have taken the same approach to education as I did.  

UHN News: How does male nursing differ from female nursing in your opinion?

Our approach and connection with patients and colleagues differs I believe. There is no debate that females and males differ in many ways and I believe that diversity always brings an interesting dynamic to a nursing unit.   

UHN News: Every year, UHN celebrates nurses during Nursing Week (May 11-15 this year). What does Nursing Week mean to you?

I think it is a great way to celebrate the roles nurses play in providing excellent patient care and improving the lives of patients we encounter.

The role of a nurse in advocating for our patients is vitally important for their health and safety. At times nurses encounter many hardships and our ability to prevail when it is needed stands for the strength required to be a nurse.

UHN News: As nurses in the cardiovascular intensive care unit (CVICU), what is the most challenging part of your job? What is the most rewarding aspect?

The most challenging aspects of our job are developing an understanding that not everyone can be helped. Working at such a large centre, we are faced with some of the most critically ill patients in the country and realizing that as a collaborative team, we have done everything for that individual and family as we possibly could. However, opposite from this is when we see the countless individuals leaving our unit healthy, walking, and in time returning to a physical state in which they can continue living.

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