Larry Rowe, Gerry Beideck, and Ricky (Ricardo Pangilinan) Mosqueda were groundbreakers in the 1970 class of the Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing, which operated between 1947 and 1976. As the first enrolled male students, they were pioneers in a traditionally female nursing profession.
After World War II, a national shortage of nurses prompted Kaiser Permanente founding physician Sidney Garfield, MD, to create a school in 1947.
Frances P. Bolton (1885-1977) was the first Ohio woman elected to Congress and an advocate for gender and racial desegregation of military nursing units. She introduced the 1949 Bolton Act (H.R. 9398) which provided for the appointment of male citizens as nurses in the Army, Navy, and Air Force. Six years later, Lieutenant Edward T. Lyon was commissioned into the Army Nurse Corps in 1955.
A December, 1959, article in The Modern Hospital titled “Mr. R.N. Is Wanted on the Nursing Team” repeated the need for more and diverse nurses. “Hospital authorities are wondering how long a nation with a critical shortage of nurses can afford such an outworn notion as thinking of nursing as ‘woman’s work’,” stating that 97.6 percent of the nursing workforce was female and that only 225 male students a year were graduating from nursing schools.
Sadly, not all pioneers made it from the classroom to the hospital room. By 1972, KFSN students Larry and Gerry had dropped out, but Ricky graduated. For reasons unknown, he didn’t complete his California state board examinations, and we don’t know which career path he chose after that.
The growth in numbers of male nurses is a welcome diversification in staffing. A 2011 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation article pointed out that “Patients are much more receptive to health care providers of similar cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and that may well translate to gender as well.” And to support those professionals, the American Association for Men in Nursing offers trainings, scholarships and resources.
One example of supporting exceptional efforts is Kaiser Permanente’s Extraordinary Nurse Award Program, which complements existing regional recognition programs and honors nurses that demonstrate all six of the Kaiser Permanente nursing values: professionalism, patient and family centric, compassion, teamwork, excellence and integrity. This year, there are two male winners out of 11 total — Victor Falle, RN, of the Kaiser Permanente Moanalua Medical Center in Honolulu, and John Kirk Phillips, RN, of the Kaiser Permanente South San Francisco Medical Center.
As of 2015, 17.3% of Kaiser Permanente's nurses are men. And we are proud to have male nursing leaders throughout regional and national level positions, including Gregory A. Adams, who was recently appointed Group President to lead all Kaiser Permanente regions.