Northern Ireland news

Books launched to inspire school children to consider nursing or midwifery as career

Suzanne McGonagle

TWO books have been launched to inspire primary school children, particularly boys, to consider nursing or midwifery as a career.

Written by academics from the Queen's School of Nursing and Midwifery, it is hoped the books will address the lack of male nurses and midwives in both these health care professions.

More than 90 primary-aged children attended the launch of the books, 'Victor and the Virus' and 'Marcus has the surprise of his life', at Queen's University this week.

They also met clinicians and academics to learn more about nursing and midwifery as a career as well as simulating the skills carried out by nurses and midwives by using practical equipment.

Debbie Duncan, lecturer in nursing education at QUB and author, said she hopes the books inspire children into the nursing and midwifery professions.

"The majority of nurses and midwives are female, with only 10-11 per cent identifying themselves as male nurses," she said.

"This percentage is considerably lower for male midwives, even though a high percentage of obstetricians are male.

"Thinking about the gender disparity is what drove me to write the first book during the first lockdown thanks to funds raised through a crowdfunding campaign.

"Victor and the Virus is already in 150 NI school libraries and I hope the book will inspire all genders to consider nursing as a career down the line."

Professor Donna Fitzsimons, head of the school of nursing and midwifery, added: "We need to challenge the notion that caring is an exclusively female trait and encourage men and those who identify as non-binary into the professions.

"I hope that the launch of these books will showcase careers in nursing and midwifery to children and stimulate discussions with parents and teachers from an early age."

Co-author Dr Maria Healy, senior lecturer in midwifery education, said: "The disproportionate number of males in nursing and midwifery may have evolved from early school age stereotypical beliefs on gender appropriate professions, whereby nursing and midwifery were regarded as a career for girls, and for example, engineering as a career for boys.

"We are delighted to welcome so many young children here today and I heard some excited children talking about how they too could ‘be a superhero' like ‘Marcus' (the child book character) had described the midwife in our book."

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Northern Ireland news