Male nurses determined to break reverse glass ceiling

Meet the male nursing graduate breaking the stereotype to find his dream job.

Simon Lovatt, who graduated with a Bachelor of Nursing from UOW when he was 51-years-old, has joined a growing cohort of male nurses determined to break into the traditionally female dominated industry.

It took the father of two more than 25 years to realise his dream of studying nursing, after 18 years in banking and a further eight years in telecommunications (in which he was perpetually the first aider and work health and safety representative).

"I had always thought I would work in health care in some capacity. My father was a nurse, and later, a paramedic on board oil rigs," Simon, who studied at UOW's Bega campus, said.

"I had some apprehension at first, especially given my age, but everyone [was] really encouraging and helpful and I [wasn't] even the oldest in my class, he told the Merimbula News Weekly.

"It was definitely tough financially, to go from earning a good salary as a banker and [then] on Youth Allowance, it was tough."

Deputy Head of Nursing at UOW, Dr Joanne Joyce-McCoach, said in 2015, there were 382 male nursing students enrolled at the University.

"Around 13 per cent of our nursing students at UOW are male, which is ahead of the national average of 10 per cent in the workforce."

Mr Roy Brown, Head of Students for nursing at UOW, has been a nurse for more than 40 years. He said male nurses in the past had to contend with stereotypes; however more recently their positive contribution to the profession and to the Australian community is being valued.

"Representation by all aspects of the population in any profession is vitally important so that communities feel appropriately valued and supported. Male, as well as female, nurses bring a balance to that 'community' feel about care in our communities," Mr Brown said.

"Many men in nursing come to this position, as did Simon, later in their lives when they have experienced another career - as I did in engineering in the South Yorkshire coal mines in the UK. That breadth of life experience is invaluable to the community."

"If you are male and mature age, and want to study nursing, I would absolutely say 'go for it'," Simon said.

"You may not think that your previous experience is relevant, but believe me, it is. People are people, and whether you are dealing with them as clients, customers, colleagues or patients, your previous people experience is invaluable."

Simon, who started work at the new Bega Hospital in January, hopes to specialise in critical care and midwifery, joining the 1.9 per cent of Australian midwives who are male.

"I would love to become a flight medic and these two specialisations are the prerequisites," Simon, who has held a private pilot's licence since 1986, said.

"One thing I have learnt is that it is never too late to go out and do something... it's never too late to follow your dream."

Words: Elise Pitt Photos: Paul Jones

Interested in nursing? Learn more about studying nursing at UOW.

Future student news to your inbox

Want to stay up-to-date with news, stories and info about studying at UOW?