As a teenager, Damien Musmarra spent far more time inside Cairns Hospital than he would have liked, as doctors searched for an explanation why he was suffering severe abdominal pain.
As Damien’s undiagnosable condition slowly revealed itself to be a hernia that had wrapped itself around his small bowel, he was struck by how much care and attention he received from the nurses who treated him.
‘I’d kind of been brought up with the attitude to always look after people and make sure that they’re OK,’ he said.
‘I thought this could very well be something that I could look into, as a possible career.’
Many years later, the born and bred Cairns local is now a registered nurse working in Cairns Hospital’s Emergency Department, where he has become a fierce advocate for men’s health.
He said he often treated many blokes in the ED who were at their wit’s end, both physically and mentally.
‘In society, we often get this stereotypical ‘oh, he’s a bloke – he’s tough: he’ll be right’,’ he said.
‘But I can’t stand to see a bunch of blokes going through a hard time and don’t have any avenues to turn to, nor do they know why they can’t be that strong individual that everyone sees.
‘Men need as much help as anyone else.
‘I figure, working in Emergency, I get to meet these individuals on the front line here; and I share my own experiences with them, and help them wherever I can, particularly by showing them they are not alone, and I will stand by them – no matter what.’
With International Men’s Day this Saturday (19 November), Damien wants more men to step up into careers in nursing, to help provide comfortable environments for other men to discuss important health issues; and promote gender diversity within the profession.
‘Many people may not think males are caring individuals, but nursing is such a rewarding career to be in,’ he said.
‘We tend to build really, really good rapports with all our patients, and can show the softer touch.’