UW Health nurse breaks down gender barriers

UW Health nurse breaks down gender barriers

Every little boy dreams of following in his father’s footsteps, so when Brandon Florence looked to his own father for a profession, it seemed to make sense to pick construction, which is quite possibly the quintessential male career.

“I was a physical guy, so doing that seemed natural, seemed normal and it paid the bills,” Florence said.

Sixty hours a week and a paycheck that reflected it didn’t quite complete Brandon, but he didn’t realize it until he unexpectedly lost his role model.

“My father passed away in 2008,” Florence said. “It hurt. It hurt a lot. And I think some of the patterns I was recognizing in my own life helped to guide me to the next steps for what I wanted to do to make a difference.”

Florence decided to sell his business, go back to school and become a nurse.

“I wanted to be a better father and husband and parent and everything,” he said.

Florence is unique in his decision. Nationally, male nurses make up only 11 percent of the workforce.

“I was never taught or informed about nursing when I went through high school,” he said. “It was never a part of regular conversation.”

Florence is trying to change that conversation for other men. He launched the first south central chapter of the American Assembly for Male Nurses. He’s now working to build up the ranks and break down barriers.

“I don’t think your career should be defined by societal norms,” he said. “It should be defined by what works for you, and I think that spans all careers.”

Mom or dad – man or woman – nurse or not – there’s maybe a lesson here for everyone.

“That life is too short to spend it working, and working doing something that doesn’t make you feel fulfilled – and nursing fulfills me,” Florence said.

Anyone looking for more information on the local chapter of the Assembly for Male Nurses can contact Florence at BFlorence@uwhealth.org.