Column: Exploring an alternative career in nursing


(Photo by jumpinjimmyjava/Flickr)

It was while I was in high school that I decided I wanted to be a journalist. Financially speaking, this was a terrible decision. Never let 15-year-olds make major life choices. Fifteen-year-olds are dumb. They have, maybe, 10 years of life experience to draw on, and most of that time was spent being excited about wearing footie pajamas.

Paying journalism jobs are disappearing. The Rocky Mountain News, a newspaper for which I once freelanced, has closed. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has ceased printing and newspapers in Philadelphia and Minneapolis have declared bankruptcy. Journalism jobs are disappearing faster than Paula Abdul’s tenuous grasp on coherent thought.

I have friends who have lost jobs, friends who cannot find jobs and friends who fear they will lose their jobs. Currently, I am underemployed. Were it not for the time I put into my blog, column and podcast, I probably would be entering the 2078 football season on Madden with my Cleveland Browns franchise.

This is how bad things are. The other day I found myself thinking about the nursing shortage. “There are going to be a lot of old Baby Boomers soon,” I thought. “How can I get my hands on their money? They all need medical care, right?” That is when I realized, “I could be a nurse, and when they are not looking, I could steal their money.”

I am confident I could get over the stigma of being a male nurse. I already live with the stigma of being a Browns fan. I also carry the stigmas of being both bald and short. The stigma of being a male nurse would be the least of my stigmas. My other stigmas would look up to it.

Unfortunately, not all men share my confidence. If the medical community wants more men to enter the profession, it is going to have to change the name from nurse to something more masculine. I believe we can derive this new name from the duties performed by nurses. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, which is my second-favorite Web site after youporn.com, a nurse does the following:

“Registered nurses (RNs), regardless of specialty or work setting, treat patients, educate patients and the public about various medical conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients’ family members. RNs record patients’ medical histories and symptoms, help perform diagnostic tests and analyze results, operate medical machinery, administer treatment and medications, and help with patient follow-up and rehabilitation.”

That is a lot of work, the kind of work one expects a doctor to do. So instead of nurses, I say we call them co-doctors.

On an airplane, you have your pilot and your copilot. The pilot is the man. But the copilot, in spite of his secondary status, gets respect from everyone onboard the plane. No passenger ever sees the copilot and says, “Hmm, male copilot,” while making the “he’s gay” hand gesture.

The title co-doctor demands respect. “Sorry, Mrs. Jones, the doctor is busy. I’m Co-Doctor Donatelli, Co-PHD. I have done this procedure a million times. I will take good care of you. Now please show me where the lawn dart is lodged in your forehead.”


(The lawn dart – scourge of the family reunion. Photo by SLR Jester/Flickr.)

The co-doctor idea is either stupid or brilliant. Or like Tool Academy, it is both.

A career in co-doctoring (let’s just start calling it that, since it is inevitable) also would give single men like me access to a universe of intelligent, caring women in sexy scrubs, AKA female co-doctors.

I work from home, and with the rare exception of the overenthusiastic door-to-door Obama volunteer who refuses to acknowledge that the election is over, we do not get many random women in these parts. Most of the women who appear at my place make plans to do so. And those plans, usually, do not involve getting hit on.

Nurses, as I have learned from the short documentaries on youporn.com, are always 14 seconds away from ripping their clothes off. The same cannot be said of journalists David Brooks, Maureen Dowd and George Will, at least when they have not been drinking. Advantage: nursing.

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