The nursing profession is perceived to be the best profession for women to choose. This is because it offers financial stability and long-term job security, which are not guaranteed in more precarious professions where outsourcing can pose a threat to employment security. The benefits of having a nursing profession are obvious. With the flexibility of the schedule, the choice of shifts and the generous pension that is promised, there’s no reason to not pursue this career. It’s a field that still has a large female majority, even though the demand for nurses is on the rise. Men are not excluded from this field, but they do face a number of obstacles.
It’s a fact that female nurses are more prevalent than male. In a doctor’s or hospital’s waiting room, you’ll often see a nurse in a light blue nurse’s uniform, pacing the well-lit hallways and attending to various patients. How about the men? What about men?
Recent Statistics Provide Context
Minority Nursing author Tri Pham in a piece entitled “Men in Nursing” highlights a 2008 statistic which shows the difference in men working as nurses compared to women. In 2008, there were 3,063,163 licensed and registered nurses. However, only 6.6% of those over 3,000,000 registered nursing are male. A slightly higher 16.8% of non-Caucasian men work in the field of nursing (Men in Nurse, Tri Pham).
It is obvious that there must be more to the reason why, even in the 21st century, men continue to shun this field of work, other than the simple fact that historically, it was a job almost exclusively held by women. This idea is still prevalent, but it has slowly been fading. Although women are more likely to enter nursing than men, there is a greater increase in the last generation. In 2011, 9.6 percent (of all registered nurses) in the United States were male. This is a huge increase from 1970 when only 2.7 percent were.
What is it that prevents more men from joining the military?
The benefits and challenges of being a nurse is immense. It’s hard to imagine why more men don’t enter the profession. Does a social stigma still exist? Men may feel that the nursing profession is not as respected as some other medical careers. There are many legitimate reasons for men to avoid nursing or to choose it. These can be social, financial and even personal.
The economic crisis caused thousands to lose their jobs. These jobs were outsourced, or even disappeared. One area that experienced a greater increase in employment, was healthcare. This could have been due to the fact that more men chose to work in this field because it offered more stability and security than other areas.
The fact that nurses earn more money than in previous generations could be due to their increased experience. As they progress, they can see salaries increase to up to $72,000 a yearly. The nursing profession requires more skill than previous generations. A nurse may work in the operating room or delivery room of a hospital, as well as in the psychiatric unit.
Peter Beurhaus is a professor of nursing at Vanderbilt University. He has his reasons for why more men are interested in nursing today than ever before. The professor says that, during the recent recession, the country lost hundreds of jobs, yet the health care industry grew, with nursing playing a major role. When they graduate from high school there is no stigma anymore” (Gross: Economic benefits draw males into the traditionally female-dominated field). Nursing has obvious economic advantages, but there are also benefits to working with a younger generation who is more flexible and willing to ignore the barriers once in place between men and women regarding career options and gender. In addition, Professor Buerhaus speculates that the nursing field is more attractive to men because it involves a greater amount of direct patient contact than other medical fields (Gross: Economic benefits draw males into the traditionally female profession). This is why men might feel that when they work directly with patients, they’re more like a patient advocate rather than just a caregiver.
There are many reasons why men do not pursue a nursing career. Although the advantages of being a nurse outweigh any challenges they may face such as stress at work or developing the necessary skills for an extremely difficult job, some still hold them back. Even though health care has grown, men still view nursing as less important and require less education and training. Gillis was a male student who noted that Stanford graduates who were interested in nursing programs were told that “Stanford Grads do not become nurses.” Other students who were very smart were told that they were too intelligent to be a nurse.
A survey in 2005 was carried out to find the real reasons behind the lack of male nurses and to see what deters them from nursing. In order to gain more insight into the problem, 498 male nurses took part in the survey. One hundred and thirty-three percent of the men participating in the survey said that stereotypes about men as nurses are a real problem. Fifty nine percent stated that the perception that nursing is primarily a woman’s profession may be preventing men from entering the profession.
A Stigma Amongst Men?
The discomfort some men experience in this role is another factor that contributes to the lack of male nurses. Rodney Gorman is an ICU Nurse. He said that when he walks into a patient’s room they assume he is a doctor. Men make excellent nurses just as women do. (Weber Why men choose Nursing). Men face many challenges, including being misidentified as doctors instead of nurses. It is possible that some female patients in particular psychiatric ones may feel uncomfortable when they are around men. Raper is a male nurse who commented that he has never felt discriminated. There are some patients that prefer to not have a man as their physician. Similarly, other patients prefer to not have a nurse who is male. In these situations, I respect the wishes of my patients. “I have never let my pride overrule a patient’s wishes if it meant I could work with another female colleague equally qualified.” (Weber, When Men Choose Nursing).
Men have a variety of reasons for choosing nursing, which was once almost exclusively a female-dominated profession. Nursing offers a variety of benefits, including a flexible work schedule, high salaries, and a stable job. It’s hard to resist a career that is growing. Nursing has remained a predominantly female occupation mainly because of stereotypes.