KINGSTON, Jamaica — As one of the few male nurses in Jamaica, Kevin Morrison sees his profession as more of a calling and not just another job.
He highlighted that he has always had a passion for helping people, which gives him a sense of purpose and belonging.
The 27-year-old registered nurse told OBSERVER ONLINE that when he realised that nursing would put him in the midst of helping those in need of care to get back to health, he knew this was where he needed to be.
“Growing up I always wanted a profession that would bring me to help people and I realised that nursing was one of those that would put me at the bedside with people. I am there from birth to mid-life to death. experience every single stage of life in nursing,” he noted.
“There is also a feeling that I get from helping people; I am helping my community and one of the greatest feelings for me is having a patient and that patient gets to go home to their family and then you see them on the road and them hail you, ‘Yow nurse’. Trust me there is no feeling like that one,” Morrison said proudly.
Though nursing is not typically seen as one that males usually flock to in Jamaica, Morrison told OBSERVER ONLINE that the number of male nurses is gradually growing. He said that currently, at the St Ann’s Bay Hospital where he works, there are at least seven male nurses, which he said has made him proud.
He added that as a nurse he has never had any issues in the hospital and sees where the stigma of a man being a nurse in Jamaica is being lifted and being more accepted as it is in international countries where millions of male nurses can be found.
“I work with all kinds of patients; I’ve worked with females, males, young and old, every patient that you can think of and I have never had a situation where I felt as if I was being discriminated against or anything like that,” Morrison said.
“I strongly believe that careers should not be gendered and I think the profession welcomes males and I figure that’s why we have so many males coming into nursing now. I mean we know that there was, I would say was, a stigma on male nurses but I don’t see that so much anymore in Jamaica,” he added.
With three years as a nurse already under his belt, Morrison said that he wants to become a leader for nurses as there aren’t many males currently in leadership roles in the profession. This, he said, would be a great achievement as it would be another barrier broken for males in nursing.
“I want to go all the way to the top because I want to be a leader for our nurses. I have never seen a male nurse in leadership so let’s see if I can be the first and if not me then let’s see if we can encourage other males to come into the profession as well,” Morrison said.
He added: “I have already broken the barrier by being a part of the growing number of male nurses and there are a lot of those who would have broken the barrier before me and we will keep on breaking barriers so we (male nurses) want to see how far we can take nursing. I also want nurses to be respected again. I remember days when I used to see nurse on the road in their full white and I’m like ‘wow’, you have to wonder if it’s an angel you just see,” he said.
He went on to state that the same lack of respect is one of the reasons so many nurses are opting to leave Jamaica for greener pastures. He disclosed that while there are those who love their jobs and their country, it has been difficult to make a living from the current nursing salary. As a result, the country will have to accept that the migration will continue.
“In a sense, we have caused that problem on ourselves, because as I said we are not being respected as we should, not only in terms of socialisation and in society, but financially. We do love what we do, we love nursing we love helping people, but at the end of the day, you know the saying ‘love can’t go a shop’,” Morrison explained.
“It would make no sense to commit your whole life to your career and at the same time you still can’t afford life outside of the hospital, you can’t afford a home, you can’t afford a car, you can’t afford a family and that’s why a lot of nurses are leaving. To earn a decent dollar, you have to work overtime and overtime is basically going more than above and beyond, and more than what the body can handle,” he stated.
Morrison added that though many nurses are leaving, there is still a large supply that remains in Jamaica.
“No matter how bad it is, we won’t all leave, some of us will still be here but we will just have to accept that some of us will leave. And we have thousands of nurses leaving school every single year. I know nurses now who couldn’t get jobs and are now in the hotels and stuff like that so I think we do have a good supply,” he said.
“Maybe if it gets worse and a lot more nurses leave, then we will have a huge problem — though I still see where we have a lot of nurses here, but, you can’t bash them for wanting to leave, you can’t bash someone for wanting better for themselves,” he continued.
As for Morrison, he couldn’t see himself doing anything else other than being a nurse. He said that the interaction he gets from his patients, his jovial personality and his nature for service has led him to where he needs to be.
“I could not do an office job where I sit behind a computer and stuff like that. I want to be out there seeing faces, talking and having fun. That’s one of the things they can tell you about me at the hospital, if you want a laugh, if you want somebody to brighten your day — make sure they assign you to nurse Morrison,” he said.