Breaking Down Gender Stereotypes: We Need More Men in Nursing

Historically, nursing has been a field dominated by women. But recently, its reputation as a ‘female-only’ profession is gradually diminishing. Although the percentage of men in nursing is still disproportionately small at between 9-10%, the fact that the nursing field is so wide open means that more and more men are choosing this demanding, yet extremely rewarding career path.

Choosing a nursing career holds many benefits for men, including highly diverse patient care environments, competitive earnings, career stability, and plenty of opportunities for career progression.

If you’re a man who feels that nursing is your calling, don’t ignore it simply because the profession is traditionally associated with nursing. The nursing industry certainly needs more men to train to become nurses in order to break down gender barriers and achieve equality. And, there are plenty of reasons why it’s a solid career choice for any guy. Here are some of them.

Breaking the Nursing Gender Gap is Way Overdue:

Certain jobs have always had gender stereotypes attached to them, and nursing is one of them. But we’re in 2020, and it’s about time that we realize that anybody can be good at a job regardless of their gender. And some of the best nurses are men.

But, unfortunately, male nurses have always had to fight a stereotypical image when compared with other career choices. Take the media, for example. Male nurses in movies and TV shows are often portrayed as the butt of jokes, compared to female nurse characters who tend to be shown in major roles as good, supportive people.

Some male nurses from TV shows and movies include:

  • Thor in Nurse Jackie
  • William Dell Parker in Private Practice
  • Paul Flowers in Scrubs
  • Ben Stiller in Meet the Parents

Researchers at the Western Sydney School of Nursing and Midwifery looked at five health-related TV shows.

  • Hawthorne
  • Nurse Jackie
  • Grey’s Anatomy
  • Private Practice
  • Mercy

They studied the ways that male nurses were depicted with regard to costume, dialogue, casting, cinematography, and editing. On each show, they found that the male nurses were characterized as being less masculine. And, there were instances in which the nurses were mistaken for doctors, emasculated, or cast as gay. Other characters also treated them condescendingly and they were often made to be the subject of jokes.

Of course, there is no significant difference in the care that a well-trained, empathic, and compassionate male nurse can provide. It’s important for men interested in pursuing a nursing career choice to not let these media stereotypes put them off. After all, the more men we have in nursing, the sooner the stereotypes can be put to bed.

Salaries are Highly Competitive:

Even in the female-dominated field of nursing, men typically out-earn women, as is the case across pretty much all professions. There are many financial incentives for men to join the field of nursing:

  • It’s a solid, stable career field
  • The demand for nurses is only set to grow in the future
  • There are plenty of opportunities for ambitious male nurses to grow their income further, such as training to work in a family nurse practitioner role
  • It’s a consistent, reliable career choice

It’s no surprise that nursing is a reliable, financially savvy career choice for many people. There are many appealing recruitment benefits and many employers offer new nurses sign-on bonuses simply for deciding to work with them.

And, more and more hospitals and nursing schools are recognizing the need for more men in nursing, enthusiastically recruiting men to join the nursing profession as a result. The growing demand for well-trained, highly-qualified, and compassionate nurses simply cannot be ignored and men who’re willing and ready to ignore the gender stereotypes and biases will often find themselves in a career that’s rewarding, challenging, and offers financial stability.

In addition, there’s plenty of support available from organizations such as the American Assembly of Men in Nursing, which offers a range of resources such as conferences, collaboration, scholarships, and coverage of nursing topics that are particularly interesting to men.

We Are Experiencing a Critical Nursing Shortage:

Statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) show that the total number of nurses working in healthcare in the US has drastically decreased over the past twenty years. This, combined with an aging population and more readily available health insurance, has caused the demand for nurses to rapidly increase. Services like end-of-life and long-term care are more in demand due to baby boomers retiring.

As a way of addressing the critical shortage of qualified nurses, more and more healthcare environments are taking a lead on encouraging men to enter the field. Good nurses are in high demand – regardless of their gender – and are going to be for the foreseeable future.

There are plenty of great motives for men to become nurses, too. Other than the obvious high demand for nurses and great rates of pay, there are many other compelling motivations for men to become nurses.

  • Many men value careers with relationship-orientated components; something you just can’t get away from in nursing
  • There’s a highly technical side to nursing; this element of the profession is often very appealing to men
  • There’s the chance to learn more, specialize in various fields of healthcare, and near unlimited options for branching out or career progression

Men who were exposed to male nurses early in life may often find themselves more motivated to break into this female-dominated field. Men interested in nursing have already chosen to clear the gender stereotype hurdle, and despite the lack of male role models and outdated gender stereotypes surrounding male nurses, many men find that these barriers have become an important reason to answer their calling of becoming a nurse and tackle them head-on.

There Are Many Nursing Specialities Available:

The nursing field offers a wide range of different patient care environments, many of which are particularly interesting and appealing to men, such as trauma nursing, emergency care, flight nursing, and anesthesia. Other nursing specialties that men tend to explore include psychiatry, administration, nursing education, middle management, nurse practitioner, and oncology.

Nursing is certainly not a one-size-fits-all occupation for both male and female nurses. The wide range of specialities available makes it a unique profession in that you can pursue your specific areas of interest in the field whatever they may be.

Why Become a Nurse?

Male or female, there are many incredible reasons to become a nurse. Either gender can benefit from joining the nursing profession.

  1. It’s an opportunity to make a difference: Whatever your gender, working in a job where you know you are making a real difference to the people that you see every day is highly rewarding. Time and time again, nurses say that this is the main reason they chose their profession, and it’s both incredibly rewarding and humbling.
  2. Job opportunities: As mentioned, the nursing profession is suffering a shortage. Nurses are in high demand. As a male nurse, you’ll have your pick of job opportunities.
  3. It’s a trusted and respected profession: No matter your gender, nobody can disrespect you for choosing a job where you put others first every day. In 2018, the annual Gallup poll on honesty and ethical standards found that nurses were the most trusted professionals.
  4. There’s a high degree of job satisfaction: Nursing is a highly satisfying career. According to an annual survey conducted by AMN Healthcare and the Center for Advancement of Healthcare Professionals, 83% of nurses surveyed reported satisfaction with their career choice.
  5. Varying shift patterns available: Nursing is perfect for anybody looking for a career with flexible shift schedules and options to select working shifts that suit you. These options allow you to further your career through academic advancement and specialty certification.
  6. Excellent benefits: Generous paid time off, tax saving plans, life insurance, pension plans, medical, vision and dental insurance, tuition reimbursement for continuing education and more are just some of the many excellent career benefits provided to nurses. Nurses also have access to a variety of student loan forgiveness programs.
  7. Travel opportunities: The great need for good nurses expands way beyond the US to all over the world. Travel nursing is a fantastic opportunity to fill these healthcare needs, making this profession an ideal selection for men who wish to move and work overseas. As a nurse, your skills and knowledge are going to be in demand in almost every country on the globe.
  8. Lifelong learning: If you are a man who loves to learn, healthcare is the perfect industry to nurture and foster this love of learning. Healthcare is constantly evolving and the desire to learn more is almost mandatory in the nursing profession. It’s important for nurses to continue building their knowledge throughout their careers and there are continuing education requirements to adhere to, which vary by state.

Although nursing has historically been dominated by women, more and more men are choosing to take advantage of the nursing shortage and work in a rewarding, challenging career with the opportunity to expand their knowledge, further their professional achievements, and make a real difference in the world.

Joe Miragliotta is a caffeine addict, social media freak and a tech junkie. When first creating the concept was small; Post diary-like content to share with the world of all things he was into. Now it's grown to be much more than that. You'll find travel, food & drink, design, tech, entertainment and more!

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