Why We Need More Male Nurses

Woman with short blonde hair and blue shirt.
Written by Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN Freelance Writer, IntelyCare
Young male nurse in blue scrubs standing in a common area of a facility.

When you think of nursing and nurses, you need to take into account the incredible diversity of the people within the profession. Nursing professionals come from myriad backgrounds, geographical locations, and socioeconomic brackets. Nurses comprise all races and creeds, and they have different levels of educational and work experiences.

And yet people who identify as male are far less likely to pursue a career in nursing compared to those who identify as women. Male nurses are, in no uncertain terms, a rarity. People identifying as women hold 77.6% of all healthcare and social assistance jobs. Just look at registered nurses (RNs), where men account for around 13% of the workforce. It’s certainly not nothing, but the nursing profession could definitely use more men in nursing.

While nursing tends to be viewed as “women’s work,” the fact is that men have been working as nurses since 250 BC. How do we break through the stigma that prevents more men from pursing the job? There are all kinds of answers to this question. Let’s look at just a few.

Male Nurses Are Role Models for Other Men

Role models have tremendous influence over other people’s lives by being a living example of how to treat themselves and others. Unfortunately, gender stereotypes and sexism against male nurses still saturate our culture, leading many to believe that nursing is a job for women only.

However, a male nurse can act as a role model for younger generations; male nurses working in nontraditional roles show a different kind of compassion, integrity, and determination that might not be found elsewhere.

Men in Nursing Provide Compassionate, Nurturing Care

Some people may believe that men aren’t as emotionally equipped as women to handle the duties of a nurse. That simply isn’t true, but it’s a common myth ascribed to male nurses. Stereotypes like this are damaging.

Men absolutely have the capacity to be extremely attuned and sensitive to the needs of patients and to uphold ethical principles in nursing. The ability to comfort a crying toddler who is scared of needles or calmly reassure a person about to go into surgery is not (and never was) dependent on a person’s gender.

Some Patients Prefer a Male Nurse

Just like nurses themselves, patients come from all walks of life. As such, there may be patients from different cultural backgrounds that simply prefer having a man taking care of them. Some male patients might not feel comfortable discussing certain issues with women. Others may prefer a male nurse for certain invasive procedures, such as the insertion of a urinary catheter. Male nurses can actually improve the patient care experience for some simply by identifying as male.

Having More Male Nursing Professionals May Improve Healthcare Quality

Above all else, involving more men in the nursing profession may actually help improve patient outcomes and healthcare quality as a whole. Several research studies suggest that men do not engage in preventative care because such concerns are considered female concerns.

Furthermore, some exams and procedures make men feel uncomfortable and vulnerable. Perhaps if the procedure was done by a male nurse, the patient would be more inclined to participate in his preventive health. Additionally, a man may be more likely to follow treatment recommendations if they come from another man. We need more male nursing professionals to help improve the quality of care by bringing their unique perspective and talents into the profession.

Ready to Make a Difference?

It’s true that male nurses are in the minority within the profession, but that can easily change. If you could use a little career support, check out the many ways IntelyCare can help.