ADVICE

Why men should pursue an education for a career in nursing

SOURCE: Miguel Medina / AFP
Nurses are a critical part of our medical and healthcare infrastructure, which is why organisations around the world are making efforts to encourage men to enter the profession.


By U2B Staff 

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Historically the nursing field may seem like it was designed for women, but thankfully the field has shed this stigma in recent years and rightfully so. Despite the fact that numbers for men in nursing are still low, history highlights that men have served in nursing for centuries. 

Male nurses served on the battlefields during the Civil War but were no longer allowed to serve as Army nurses when the Army Nurse Corps was established in 1901, according to the Army Nurse Corps Association. Then in 1955, the Army Nurse Corps commissioned its first male nurse, Lt. Edward T. Lyon.

Although nursing remains a female-dominated profession, more men are joining their ranks now than they did in previous decades. Nationwide, 12% of registered nurses are men, up from 2.7% in 1970, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

As the number of men in nursing has increased, the stigma surrounding male nurses, as portrayed by actor Ben Stiller in the 2004 comedy movie Meet the Fockers, has decreased.

“There is no stigma to being a male nurse,” said Cindy Anderson, the senior associate dean for academic affairs at Ohio State’s College of Nursing. “We hope to get to a point where a nurse is a nurse, and we don’t have to qualify that.”

The rise in numbers of men in nursing is partially due to a shift in available jobs, especially in those that are traditionally male-dominated such as automakers, whose jobs have been taken over by automation or moved overseas to save cost with cheaper labor. 

A social science study that reviewed eight years of Census data found that of men who had worked in male-dominated industries and then became unemployed, 14% decided to enter industries dominated by women, such as nursing. 84% of men who did not lose their jobs moved on to traditionally female-oriented jobs. Unemployed men who got jobs in female-dominated industries received a pay increase of 3.8% after making the move. 

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for registered nurses will grow 12% between 2018 and 2028, much quicker than the average of other professions. There will be a need for 3.19 million nurses by 2024.

The growth of the aging population who will require more medical care is one of the drivers for this demand. Job growth is expected in long-term care facilities, especially for elderly individuals who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or have suffered from a stroke. 

Nursing can be an attractive career for both sexes because of its flexible schedule, high-demand, and potential for career advancement.

Some of the key benefits for prospective male nurses include career stability due to the increase in demand. A stable income with a median salary of US$73,300. Career flexibility in a unique field that allows for part-time, full-time, variable, per diem, or combination shifts. Travel opportunities where male nurses can also enter the field of travel nursing. Scholarships opportunities are also a benefit, as a variety of scholarships are available to prospective male nurses, such as those offered through the American Association of Male Nurses (AAMN).

Apart from attractive perks, if you are passionate about helping others, a distorted stereotype should not be taken into consideration when making a decision, or ever at all. After a successful college football career and a bachelor’s degree in political science, Roosevelt Davis pursued a master’s degree in nursing and is now a Pediatric Cardiovascular ICU (CVICU) nurse at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County.

“Nursing, and healthcare positions are professions that aren’t traditionally even considered by most student athletes. And, in my experience, even less football players and men of color are exposed to the nursing realm. Like I said, I wasn’t even going to look into it until my mid-to-end of my college career”, he tells Nurse.org. “I encourage men, especially black men and people of color to 100% consider nursing as a career option”.

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As men are still a minority in the field, various programmes offer support and opportunities to network. AAMN was founded in 1971 but closed in just a few years. In 1980, it was re-established and today they have thousands of members that encourage men of all ages to pursue a career in nursing, and support the professional growth of those who are already in the field.

New York University has Men Entering Nursing, open to all nursing students at the Rory Meyers College of Nursing to discuss concerns and perceptions that affect men.

Scholarships for men have been made available by AAMN, who annually offers opportunities to male students who are already enrolled in a nursing programme but are seeking support. The Army Nurse Corps Association provides nursing scholarship opportunities for military men. The Emergency Nurses Association Foundation provides opportunities for men who are committed to emergency nursing. The Hector Gonzalez Past Presidents Scholarship provides opportunities for Hispanic male nurses. The San Diego Nursing Association offers scholarships to all African American nurses who are members and at least six months into their studies.