Why Male Nurses Shouldn’t Be a Rarity

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Written by Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN Freelance Writer, IntelyCare
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Reviewed by Marie Hasty, BSN, RN Content Writer, IntelyCare
Young male nurse with dark hair and glasses in light blue scrubs.

When you think of a nurse, do you picture a woman? While nursing has grown more diverse in the last decades, women still make up 85% of the workforce. Male nurses are, in no uncertain terms, a rarity. They shouldn’t be.

In recent history, nursing and other service-based professions have been viewed as “women’s work.” It might surprise you, but men have been working as nurses since 250 BC. (Bet you didn’t know that Walt Whitman was a nurse.) Yet the perceptions of the last centuries can continue to color people’s ideas about nurses today.

If you’re thinking of becoming a male nurse, you might be worried about entering a profession that is predominantly held by women. You might be concerned about sexism against male nurses. Yet there’s opportunity here for men who choose to follow this path and grow their career in nursing. Here are just a few of the reasons why the world needs more male nurses.

Why Men May Want to Choose a Career as a Nurse

  1. Male nurses can be role models for other men.
  2. Men in nursing provide compassionate, nurturing care.
  3. Some patients prefer a male nurse.
  4. Having more male nursing professionals may improve healthcare quality.
  5. There is job stability and the chance to earn a good salary.

1. Male RNs can Be Role Models for Other Men

Unfortunately, gender stereotypes and sexism against male nurses still saturate our culture, leading many to believe that nursing is a job for women only. Men entering the profession help push this envelope, challenging stereotypes and perceived gender roles.

Men can act as role models for younger generations, showing a different kind of compassion, integrity, and determination that might not be found elsewhere. How would it feel to know that you’ve been a role model for other men entering the nursing profession? You’ll be following in the footsteps of many excellent men in nursing.

2. 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.

3. 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 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. Men in nursing can improve the patient care experience for some simply by identifying as male.

4. Having More Male Nursing Professionals May Improve Healthcare Quality

More men in the nursing profession may help improve patient outcomes and healthcare quality as a whole. Having a workforce that more accurately represents the population is essential for quality care. 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.

5. There Is Job Stability and the Chance to Earn a Good Salary

Nurses are in demand, which is good news for your career. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the job outlook for RNs will grow by 6% over the next decade and the job outlook for LPNs will grow by 5% over the next decade, both of which are faster than the averages for all other occupations. That’s an increase of 193,100 and 54,400 job openings (respectively) each year, on average for the next 10 years.

In terms of pay, the average annual salary for RNs is $89,010 and the average annual salary for LPNs is $55,860. The best-paying states for RNs are:

The best-paying states for LPNs are:

Ready to Make a Difference?

It’s true that male nurses are in the minority within the profession, but that can easily change. Could you use a little career support? Find out how IntelyCare can help you stay in the know when you sign up for our nursing newsletter.