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Think Nursing Is Just for Women? Think Again.

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This article discusses the rise of men in the nursing profession. It outlines why more men are needed by the industry and how nursing schools and hospitals are actively recruiting male nurses. It also discusses the typical career path, educational requirements, and average annual salary for nurses.

Today, despite the poor economy and bad news we hear almost daily about the job market, nursing remains a field facing shortages. Men are the new recruits in this age-old field championed by Florence Nightingale.

Despite a ''prejudice'' against men in what has traditionally been viewed as a “female'' career, more men are joining this challenging and demanding field. Though their numbers are growing, at last count, only about five percent of the nurses in America are men. Current nursing centers and schools are looking to change this.

Because there is such a nursing shortage today, in fact nursing is one of the most secure job fields around. It offers both job security and excitement. And there are plenty of opportunities to advance your career, from beginning your career as a licensed practical nurse to becoming a nurse practitioner or even nurse scientist.

The military, too, needs nurses. So it might surprise you that it's actually relatively rare for men become nurses. Why so?


Unfortunately, the stereotype that nursing is a woman's job persists. And in fact, men were not even considered mainstream recruits until relatively recently. Today, however, the profession is taking a new look at this untapped population.

This isn't a new problem; in fact, women, too, have had to break into traditionally “male'' professions, like law and medicine. However, now the situation is reversed. And while women may have been able to look to a source of pride because they surmounted obstacles in leveling the playing fields in male-dominated professions, men have not demonstrated the same drive in overcoming these stereotypes. Therefore, the focus on recruiting is to dispel the myths about becoming a nurse when you're a man.

Today, many nursing centers are trying to shake up outdated perceptions about men in nursing. This doesn't just go for the student body, either. Nursing faculty, female students, and clinical instructors all need to relearn just what nursing means when it comes to male students.

Rethinking Job Duties

Nursing is no longer just about bedside care for patients. Instead, it's viewed more as a lifetime career that can evolve and change, not just with medical advances, but with society as well.

For this, career management is invaluable. It starts in high schools. Traditionally, guidance counselors have steered men away from nursing and toward the medical field as physicians; however, by increasing requirements and stressing math and science aptitudes, these prejudices will eventually fall away so that nursing will be seen as a career that's every bit as challenging as one in medicine or law. This, too, can make the nursing profession more appealing to men.

One major area nursing is expanding into is research. Administration, military pursuits, and executive positions are areas that have always been around, but are just now being emphasized.

Raising Standards

In fact, even though nursing has been a field that has had shortages over the years, some nursing centers are actually raising admissions requirements, a move which has increased the applications for both men and women.

Special Challenges Male Nurses May Face

One of the special challenges men may face as nurses is that because they must see patients in unclothed or partially unclothed states, one of the worries is that sexual-harassment charges may arise. However, be advised that this is mostly a prejudice that can simply go away with experience and time. After all, male doctors, too, must see patients in similar states of undress and do so without charges of sexual harassment. Once the same respect is given to male nurses as is given to male doctors, these difficulties will go away. One of the major things that has to happen is that clinicians, instructors, and female students all must learn to be comfortable with male nurses in these types of situations.

Another difficulty with male nursing that has to be addressed is that many people see male nursing as a ''female'' profession, not something most men are comfortable with. However, as with opposite sexual stereotypes (such as women getting into the medical field as doctors), this can be overcome through the relearning of gender roles. That starts in the classroom, career counseling centers, and even at home.

Duties and Schooling

Licensed practical nurses perform basic duties such as helping with personal hygiene, giving injections, taking vital signs and gathering patient information, and teaching patients about good health habits. They also collect lab samples and perform lab tests of routine nature.

Licensed practical nurses can begin careers after just a year of school; many licensed practical nurses also began this way and go on to become registered nurses. They must also pass the National Council Licensure Examination. Licensed practical nurses earn on average between $31,000 and $46,000 a year, depending on environment and location.

Registered Nurses

Registered nurses are a next level up from licensed practical nurses and perform many of the same duties, but are also in a much more supervisory capacity. In addition to the previously mentioned duties licensed practical nurses can perform, they can also perform other duties such as performing diagnostic tests and analyzing results, planning a patient's care, and administering medication. Registered nurses may also specialize in different areas such as oncology, diabetes management, or genetics. As of 2006, a registered nurse could roughly expect to make about $26 an hour.

As career advancement continues, nurses can also move into executive positions or may even choose to specialize in research. In fact, the field of nursing is wide open for men to pursue just about any type of medical pursuit they choose, including therapeutic intervention, patient care, administrative duties, or supervisory positions.


As the demand for nurses continues to rise, men may move into the field more easily over the next several years as employment opportunities diminish in other areas. Because nursing is such a demanding field and because the opportunities are almost endless, this is a very lucrative and rewarding career. Notably, it's also one of the few fields in which the demand for employees is high, instead of diminishing.
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Popular tags:

 medicines  Florence Nightingale  job security  teachers  professions  industry  nursing shortages  job market  economy  shortages

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