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More Men Pursuing Nursing in the Face of Stereotypes

May 2008

Despite lingering stereotypes that continue to deter men from persuing a career in nursing, studies reveal that more men are choosing nursing as a career. According to the National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses, published every four years by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, men make up 6 percent of the 2.9 million nurses registered nationwide, an increase of more than 20,000 men in nursing since 2000. 

Ronald Burns, ASN and clinical coordinator at the Medical Center Hospital in Columbus, Georgia, considers the once deemed ‘traditionally female profession’ a diminishing concern. “There are fewer gender biases than were present in earlier years of nursing,” said Burns. “Males have the same communication skills, values, beliefs and compassion as their female peers. It doesn’t matter if the nurse is male or female, as long as caring and concern is given to each individual.”

A 2006 Survey of Men in Nursing, conducted by American Mobile Healthcare, revealed the perception of men in nursing is better than it has ever been, and nursing is appearing more and more appealing to men. Increasing pay rates, job security, highlighting more media profiles of men in nursing as well as, emphasizing the impact on patients’ lives, the technical skills required and the ability to travel are six methods the survey cited as “very effective” at encouraging more men to enter and remain in the nursing profession.

More than 85 percent of male nurses surveyed felt very or mostly satisfied with their job, and more than 82 percent would recommend nursing to other men. While attitudes are changing, barriers still exist in recruiting more men into the profession. Subtle workplace hostility and prejudice is still experienced by male nurses in practice. Approximately half of male nurses still occasionally feel belittled by coworkers, friends, patients or others because they are a nurse.

Even as the number of men entering the profession is on the rise, many more are needed to add diversity to the field, and help to alleviate the national nursing shortage that is expected to severely cripple the nation’s health care system in the next 10 years.

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