Nursing is a well respected and noble profession. Candidates undergo the long and arduous test of nursing school, gain experience through trained professionals, and must constantly learn of new developments in the field while nurturing patients and vigilantly watching their health. Nursing appears to grant those working in the field a job that is both challenging and rewarding. So, where are all the males in the profession?
Men in the profession
The proportion of men to women nurses remains to be very unbalanced. In 1980, 2.7% of RNs were men and that percent rose to only 5.4% by 2000. The medical field has seen the increase in women doctors, yet the number of male nurses does not come close to that of women.
This was not always the case. Up until the 20th century, more than half of the people providing nursing services to the ill and injured were male. A dramatic shift occurred during the course of the early 20th century making the percentage of male RNs to be below 1% by the 1930s.
Many laypeople and those with experience in the field attribute the lack of men in the field to the public image and misconceptions of being a nurse. Billboards, commercials, textbooks, and the gender of nursing teachers all aid in promoting ìfeminineî image. Add fallacies about salaries, poor working conditions, and a limited amount of male role models, and we begin to see where the root of the diversion lies. The lexicon even seems to ameliorate the lopsidedness: A women is referred to as a ìnurse,î but a man is a ìmale nurse.î
A new image?
The answer may be to reconstruct the image of a ìnurse.î People view nurses as caring, nurturing, and sensitive. These are exceptional attributes, but are generally referred to as being feminine. Some suggest altering the public perception with advertisements and suggestions that nursing is challenging, action-oriented, and fast-paced.
Still, others suggest that the compassionate, sensitive, and caring traits should be embraced by all people and not be misconstrued to describe one gender. Proponents believe it does take a certain person to become a nurse, but developing and exhibiting the nurturing side of oneís personality should not deter men from the field. Some feel these characteristics are ìpositiveî and to be revered, and not stereotyped as being ìfeminine.î
Nurses (women and men alike) state nursing affords them a flexible schedule, good pay and benefits, job security, and an intrinsically rewarding feeling that you can not place a price upon. Those in the field believe that projecting all of the positive aspects of being a nurse should be more than enough to attract all people to the profession. It is not the profession that needs to change, but the outside perception of how important and noble the position is for everyone.