For quite a long time, men have been minorities in the nursing profession. However, given that they offer unique skills and perspectives that can transform the profession to reflect quality care, it is now more important than ever that nursing diversification mirror the emerging changes in the society and recruit more of them to address the growing need for a more diverse workforce.
For years, it has been speculated that the major barrier hindering men from pursing a nursing career is gender stereotyping. They are seen as not compassionate enough to nurse and they are only needed for performing difficult tasks, such as providing physical restraint and lifting heavy medical equipment. Contrary to this perception, a 2005 report released by the American Assembly of Men in Nursing revealed that the topmost reason for men venturing into nursing is a desire to help the society. That being said, the following statistics show how the number of men in the nursing profession has grown over the years:
• The number of male registered nurses (RNs) has tripled since 1970.
• In 1970, male RNs were only 2.7 percent of the nursing workforce.
• In 2000, the number had grown to 7.8 percent.
• The figure had reached 9.7 percent by 2011.
• By 2012, the number of male students was 11.4% in the bachelor of nursing (BSN), 9.9% in master’s, and 9.4% and 6.8 % in practiced-focused and research-focused doctoral programs respectively.
Reasons for The Growing Number of Men Nurses
Given the steady growth rate of the number of men in nursing occupations, one question that emerges is what has contributed to it. Below are some of the reasons:
• Increased access to healthcare that has raised the demand for nurses
• Changing perceptions about the roles that males play in the society and the economy
• Decreased gender stigma against men engaging in the nursing profession
• Low unemployment rate (0.8% for nurse practitioners and 1.8% for RNs) associated with the career
• Attractive salaries and wages for nursing occupations – up to $162,900 annually for male nurse anesthetists.
Despite the growing number of men in the nursing profession, there’s still a long way to go because it is still very small compared to that of their female counterparts. Therefore, to address the issue of discrimination and subordination of men in nursing, the goodwill of the society is needed socially, financially, culturally and even politically.