‘I got teased because I wanted to be a male nurse’

John Whittaker, NICU nurse
Westmead Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse Manager John Whittaker can not imagine doing anything other than nursing.

Passionate Neonatal Intensive Care Unit nurse manager John Whittaker says his decision to become a nurse may have been initially mocked, but 33 years later he could not imagine being anything else.

In this week’s Humans of the Hospital series, John said that there were only six male nurses at the first hospital he was employed at.

“I got teased mercilessly by my school and college friends because I wanted to be a nurse,” John said.

“All my friends went into engineering or more male-dominated roles, especially because I was from Barnsley in the United Kingdom which was a mining town.

“In my pre-nursing course, I was the only male and only six male nurses worked at the first hospital I was employed at.”

Three decades later, John says he feels very comfortable being a male nurse who specialises in the care of tiny babies.

“I find I connect with the fathers of our small patients on a different level,” John said.

“Working with babies is sometimes seen as ‘cute’ and feminine but I simply work in an intensive care unit.

“I wouldn’t have done anything different, no matter how much I got teased – I can’t imagine being anything but a nurse.” 

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