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Villanova’s Men in Nursing Society

Below is an interview with nursing student PJ Scarperi about the founding and activities of the new Men in Nursing group and what drives his goals as a nurse.

Special thanks to writer and sophomore nursing student Lauren Casimiro for this article.

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In addition to community service, Villanova's Men in Nursing student group provides opportuntities for fun and fellowship.

Villanova’s Men in Nursing is a new student group on campus, founded and approved in spring 2022. It was launched by current nursing students Gerard Murjani, Stephen Marshalko, Will Clarkin, Diego Alvarado, and PJ Scarperi, with the help of their faculty advisor Assistant Professor Guy M. Weissinger, II, PhD, MPhil, RN. We talked with PJ Scarperi about Men in Nursing, their goals, and his personal connection to nursing.

PJ stated that Men in Nursing was created because the founding members “noticed that there was a lack of community among the few men in the College of Nursing” and that surprisingly, “men only make up about 12% of nurses, and a similar rate is present within the college.”  The purpose of this organization is for the “members to feel a sense of community and support, especially in a major that is as difficult as nursing.” The mission of Men in Nursing is to “provide the framework and space for nurses to convene and support one another through continued empowerment and inclusivity. Our goal is to create and nourish a close-knit community of students who are supportive, kind and committed to becoming excellent nurses.”

The goals of Men in Nursing are accomplished through “our commitment to providing the framework for male identifying nurses to support one another through a fostered society based on assisting others who are within the nursing field, as well as our general community” and volunteering within the Philadelphia community.  “We have recently established a connection with CHOP’s Homeless Health Initiative, a program that provides free healthcare to families and youth living in Philadelphia area emergency housing shelters. Once a week, volunteers from Men in Nursing participate in character building sessions at YES, a shelter for unaccompanied youth ages 13-17.” Additionally, Men in Nursing “recently hosted a presentation regarding Health, Homelessness, and Ways Nurses Can Intervene to teach and discuss the role of the nurse in addressing health disparities associated with homelessness with the College of Nursing.” Such initiatives allow the organization to fulfill their mission and goals.

In addition to helping their local community, Men in Nursing hosts a number of fun events for the members to enjoy and bond with each other. Such events include “barbeques where we have cornhole and other games that we play right on Sheehan Beach” and “group trips to our favorite restaurant just down Lancaster called Pho Street, where the crowd favorite is P03, pho with eye round steak, brisket, and sirloin.”

When asked why he was interested in nursing, PJ opened up about his experiences as a child, in the hospital: “I was born with a birth defect, a cleft lip and partial cleft palate. Some of my earliest memories are being in hospitals as part of the vast amount of appointments and surgeries that were involved in my treatment. Although it was incredibly difficult at times, what has left a lasting impact is not the hardship, but the empathy and kindness that I experienced from the nurses who pushed me through those difficult times. I am beyond grateful for the nurses who were so gracious to me. They were the support I needed at that time, and I want to pay it forward – I want to be someone I needed when I was younger. This foundation is what drives my ambition to become a nurse.”

Furthermore, he shared a story about his friend’s twin brother, Arnarv, who was diagnosed with cancer and how amazed he was with his perseverance and positivity, which ultimately influenced him to pursue pediatric oncology. PJ shares that “when meeting Arnav and hearing his story, you could not help but be struck by his indifference to the unimaginable struggles that affected both his past and present self. His diagnosis of cancer did not consume him, rather positivity pulsed through his veins.” Beyond pursuing a career in pediatric oncology, PJ hopes to “continue a master’s education in nursing leadership to attain a position in nursing oncology leadership as well as implementing palliative care research into current nursing practice with a position of leadership. Ultimately, I want to make a significant and positive impact in pediatric oncology patient lives.”

Men in Nursing is an empowering and unique organization that highlights the male nursing population. Even though this is a fairly new organization, the members have already greatly contributed to the campus and local communities, and we are excited to see how Men in Nursing grows.