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Male nurses hope to use calendar to break stereotypes

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- A group of nurses from across Oklahoma hopes to chip away at the stereotype that the profession is just for women by posing for a 2006 "Men in Nursing" calendar.

The Oklahoma Nurses Association is selling the calendars and using proceeds to send 3,000 free copies to high school guidance counselors, teachers and health-occupational students.

"The goal of the calendar is to show nursing as a profession that is diverse in culture, gender, region and practice," said Jane Nelson, association executive director.

Gary Lawrence, 45, nursing supervisor at the Choctaw Nation Health Care Center in Talihina, took a few years to find nursing.

He was a carpenter, oil-field worker and paramedic. He became a registered nurse in 1998 after earning a degree from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah.

Oklahoma men are an "untapped resource" that could help address a projected nurse shortage, Lawrence said.

He agreed to be photographed for the calendar because Oklahoma secondary school students need assurances that "it's OK to be a nurse and a guy at the same time," Lawrence said.

In the calendar, nurses are shown flexing their muscles, working out, riding bicycles, shooting targets at a pistol range, playing golf and in hospital operating rooms.

"Mr. April" Jeff Smith, 49, is nurse manager for adult mental health services at Deaconess Mental Health Hospital in Bethany. His degree is from Southern Nazarene University.

Smith said becoming a nurse was natural for him because his mother, Patti Smith, is a nurse for the Oklahoma Blood Institute in Norman and his grandmother, Ethel Green, is a retired nurse.

Getting more men into nursing would help address a shortage of nurses in Oklahoma. The state is projected to need 7,800 more nurses within 10 to 15 years, according to federal health officials.
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