What is the Attitude Towards Male Nurses?

The nursing profession has long been associated with the female gender, and male nurses haven’t played a significant role in hospitals and other healthcare facilities until very recently. However, the surprise a patient might feel at seeing a male nurse is quickly receding in today’s healthcare environment. The swiftly growing profession has attracted new nurses of all genders, as well as different races and ethnic backgrounds.

A Historically Female Profession

Just as it was once extraordinarily rare to see a woman working as a doctor or attending medical school, a male nurse was once an unheard of sight. According to information compiled by the American Community Survey, the percentage of male registered nurses in the United States hovered around 2.7% in 1970, but jumped to 9.6% by 2011. Although male nurses are still a minority within the profession, the overall healthcare industry has seen an incredible demand for new nurses, which has encouraged men to join the profession. Further, men have even enjoyed higher wages overall, even though they’ve made up less than 10% of the total nurses in the United States. In 2011, male nurses made an average of $60,700 a year while female nurses came in at just $51,100 a year.

Attitudes Toward Men Working as Nursesmale-nurses

Just as female doctors once had to overcome extreme gender bias regarding their profession, men working as nurses were once so rare that their appearance in a healthcare setting was met with disbelief. However, the past three decades have shown a change in attitudes toward men and women who have entered nontraditional roles in healthcare. A recent article published by “The Journal of Nursing,” offers some interesting suggestions on how men working as nurses fare in the workplace today. Regarding the need for new healthcare workers, the increase of men in the profession has been a welcome change in the nursing profession because of the dramatic increase in jobs available for nurses.

However, men have faced some obstacles within the workplace as past opinions of nursing being a “women’s profession” have endured. Interestingly, however, even though men have seen some gender discrimination as practicing nurses, men have still been able to enter the profession in higher numbers in areas like management, leadership, and various specialties like nurse anesthetist.

Nurse Shortage May Drive Male Participation

The percentage of men working as nurses will likely continue to grow as the number of active nurses working in the United States is not keeping up with the number of positions available in the profession. Adding to the nursing shortage is an aging nurse population, with many experienced nurses nearing retirement, and an increasing demand for nurses, particularly with the needs of a large and growing elderly population.

The government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) pegs growth of the nursing profession at 19% for the next decade, which is faster than the overall average expected for all professions. Significant employment opportunities will likely continue to fuel growth of the profession for all genders. While the attitudes regarding male nurses have certainly changed for the better in the last several years, the profession remains overwhelmingly female.