According to Jason Mott, one of the key factors in increasing diversity in nursing is recruiting, welcoming, and retaining men.
Mott received his PhD in Education with a specialization in Nursing Education from Capella University in 2013, and was recently elected to the National Board of Directors for the American Assembly for Men in Nursing (AAMN) in recognition of his advocacy work.
An instructor at Bellin College in Green Bay, Wis., Mott teaches his nursing classes with a clinical background. He shares his views on the current state of men in nursing and how he plans to shape what comes next.
Q. What’s your background in nursing and nursing education?
A. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2001 and worked on a general medical unit for about four years. I then transferred to work in the operating room (OR) for about four years, and I went back to school during that time. In 2009, I earned my master’s in nursing with a focus in nursing education and took a full-time teaching position after that. About a year later, I decided to pursue my PhD at Capella.
Q. What made you want to make the switch from clinical work to teaching?
A. When I was working in a clinical or hospital setting, I always enjoyed serving as a preceptor to nursing students and a mentor to new employees. A colleague had taken a part-time teaching job, and I thought, “That sounds fun. I think I could do that.” That’s when I decided to go for my master’s degree.
Q. Was it a tough transition? Did you miss the hospital?
A. At first it was a little difficult to leave the hospital setting. But even though I teach in the classroom, I do a lot of clinical work with the students on a year-round basis. I’m not doing hands-on stuff—the students are—but I am in there with patients. I almost get more enjoyment watching students arrive at those light bulb moments than I did in my practice.
Q. What made you want to pursue a doctorate in nursing?
A. I wanted to be the best educator I could be. Compared to the master’s program, the doctorate allows you to dive deeply into research topics and is the best leadership training I could have asked for. I also recognize that holding a doctoral degree is necessary if I ever want to teach at a bigger university. Finally, I want to be a change agent for nursing—to lead progress. The doctorate is the ultimate credential to allow me to achieve my personal aspirations in that regard.
Q. Why do you want to be a change agent?
A. My biggest areas of interest are civility and workplace bullying—that’s a huge area. You may have heard the statement: Nurses can eat their young. It’s not acceptable to treat nursing students or new nurses the way a lot of them have been treated. I personally had some experiences where I was bullied by older nurses…I don’t want that to happen again.
My other interest is men in nursing. Obviously, there aren’t a lot of us—nationwide, about 10 percent of nurses are men. Not surprisingly, they also tend to get bullied.
Q. So now what?
A. One of the things that has been shown in research is that if people are bullied in school, they tend to go on afterward to bully people where they’re working. So the biggest thing is to start early and get rid of the culture in the educational setting. A lot of it is taking place in the academic realm. And we have to be aware of it and be willing to step in and change it. A lot of times what happens is administration at colleges knows about it, but ignores it. When you ignore it, you give approval for that to take place.
A lot of it is generational, too. The average age of nursing faculty is around 58 years old. Then you throw in students or young grads in their 20’s. There are a lot of clashing expectations.
Q. How do you plan to help?
A. I actually just submitted paperwork to the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for a study. The question is this: What’s it like to be a male in nursing academia? I’m going to look at the bullying and the gender discrimination that takes place.
For example, I recently talked to a nurse educator who speaks all over, does all kinds of work, and he reported that the academic environment is the most toxic environment he’s ever been in. I can see that reflected in my experiences. It’s really important to dig in to this because in 2010, the National Academy of Medicine released a report called “The Future of Nursing” which involved a lot of goals, one of them being increasing diversity in nursing, both racially and across the gender divide. In Wisconsin, where I live, there’s a group called the Wisconsin Center for Nursing that works at the state level. That’s something else I’m a part of.
Q. I’m guessing there are more than a few things you wish people knew about male nurses. What would some of them be?
- It’s important for people to know the portrayal of men in the media is not accurate at all. Most people point out a gap in their ability to care. Men have equal amounts of caring as women do, they just do it differently. Society needs to realize everybody’s different. There have been a lot of misunderstandings because of differences in communication styles.
- Men can be trusted. I’ve been in situations where I have to be monitored with a female patient. I’m there to do my job professionally, and take care of someone, not harass them.
- There are increasing rate of males entering the market. We’re seeing that more so in the second-degree situation or accelerated options. People who have a previous college degree or credits to almost have a college degree and they come into nursing. Males are declining in the traditional four-year, right out of high school type programs.
Even though there are those biases, it’s still a great profession. Men should try to get into it. It’s really flexible—you can go anywhere you want. Overall, it’s pretty decent paying. There’s good job stability. It’s different every day if you want it to be.
Q. Tell us about your recent election to the National Board of Directors of the AAMN. What significance does that hold both personally and professionally?
A. I got involved in the organization a year ago and started a local chapter at Bellin. I am working with people on the national level, and was appointed to a few committees, and really enjoyed it. When they put out a nomination form, I decided to go for it!
The board works with the AAMN to move it forward. I’m going to be chairperson of a committee yet to be determined—but its focus will be to promote and support men in nursing, as well as doing things to improve men’s health.