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Men in Nursing: The Pivotal Role of Recruitment

June 2012

Historically nursing has been considered a female profession due, in part, to the industry’s predominantly female workforce. While the number of men who enter the nursing profession has grown significantly in the last two decades, male nurses still only make up approximately 6 percent of all RNs in the United States.

"The growth of men in nursing has been very slow to progress. It’s concerning because men can provide unique perspectives that are important to nursing and they tend to have very fulfilling careers in the field," said William T. Lecher, RN, MS, MBA, NE-BC and President of the American Assembly for Men in Nursing (AAMN).

The 2010 Institute of Medicine (IOM) Future of Nursing report calls attention to the need for more diversity in nursing, stating "while most disciplines within the health professional workforce have become more gender balanced, the same has not been true for nursing … to improve the quality of patient care, a greater emphasis must be placed on making the nursing workforce more diverse, particularly in the areas of gender and race/ethnicity."

Recognizing the need for more gender diversity in the nursing profession, the AAMN recently launched an aggressive 10-year recruitment plan to boost the percentage of male nurses. The AAMN named the initiative "20 X 20 Choose Nursing" to highlight the goal of increasing male enrollment in nursing programs nationally and globally to 20 percent by the year 2020. In an effort to make gender less of an issue in the nursing workforce, AAMN’s campaign efforts focus on eliminating gender stereotypes so the field is more encompassing and gender neutral.

The AAMN hopes to reach its goal through the use of social media, posters, scholarship opportunities and partnerships with colleges and health systems to encourage male nurse enrollment and retention. With the posters, the AAMN aims to communicate to men of all ages that the opportunities in nursing are virtually endless. The AAMN has also developed an updated logo and tagline, which reads "Advancing Men in Nursing."

To help support the "20 X 20 Choose Nursing" campaign, AAMN is seeking partners to assist in the development of the national strategy, as well as best practices to recruit and retain more men in nursing. "This element of the campaign provides a system-change approach to help emphasize the need for gender diversity in nursing education and the nursing workplace," said Lecher.

Specifically, AAMN is looking to partner with 15 schools or colleges of nursing to help increase the number of men enrolled in nursing programs to 30 percent with 90 percent retention. Additionally, AAMN is seeking partnership with 10 hospitals or health systems to help reach 20 percent of men in nursing employment with 90 percent retention.

"Diversity in the workplace can enhance work group functionality, helping to provide better care for patients," said Lecher. "That’s why it’s important for nurse leaders to continue their efforts in recruiting men."

Lecher encourages men interested in becoming a nurse, or men who are already in nursing, to become members of the AAMN, as well as attend the AAMN 37th Annual Conference, "Men in Nursing: Partners and Leaders in Nursing’s Future," in San Francisco on October 24-26.

For more information about the AAMN, visit www.aamn.org. For more information about partnering with AAMN’s "20 X 20 Choose Nursing" campaign, email aamn@aamn.org.

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