White pantyhose. Starched dress. Nurse’s cap. Sure these paint the picture of a nurse. But what about the 330,000 male nurses in America today?
Stereotypically, when society thinks of a nurse, they think of a woman. Historically, nurses were predominantly female and still are today. There has been some stigma about the men in scrubs.
But it’s time we dispel some of the myths about male nurses.
Myth #1: Becoming a nurse isn’t appealing to men
Nursing has become an attractive career choice. The job enjoys low unemployment rates and offers endless opportunities in specialties all over the globe. Overall, nurses report a high level of job satisfaction.
Although nursing is still dominated by females, the proportion of male nurses is growing. It’s tripled since 1970(from about 3 to 9%) and continues to grow! Currently, almost 12% of students in BSN programs today are men. It’s becoming a more diversified workforce.
Myth #2: Nursing is not a “manly” job
On the battlefields of the Civil War, nurses began administering anesthesia to wounded front-line soldiers. Today nurses still provide care to military personnel on ships, aircraft, and even in combat zones.
Men can be drawn to the more technical facets of nursing such as wound care. Adrenaline junkies can find their thrills in emergency medicine, trauma units, or flight nursing. Some nurses specialize in orthopedics or sports medicine. What can be more manly than that?
Myth #3: Women are better nurses by nature
Untrue! Men can be nurturing and caring. Bonus, men tend to be physically stronger! Sometimes aggressive patients need a male voice or larger physical presence. Patients in mental health and behavioral health settings may respond more positively to male authority.
And it’s not just the patients. Female nurses value having men on the team and take advantage of it when they can. ALL the ladies want the male nurse… even if it’s just to help lift their patients!
Myth #4: Male nurses earn the same as female nurses for the same work
Between male and female nurses there is still wage disparity, but it’s closer than the average for other jobs. In nursing, women make 91 cents for every dollar the male nurse earns, compared to 77 cents on the dollar across all occupations. Factors such as pre-hire negotiating, specialty certifications, and hours worked all affect earnings for nurses.
Myth #5: They weren’t smart enough to be a doctor
Nursing programs are rigorous and admission is competitive. Most nurses chose their careers with careful consideration, not as “Plan B.” Many nurses go on to further education. Some even choose a Ph.D. in Nursing.
And there is a nursing specialty that is replacing the doctor equivalent in many settings. It’s the highest-paid specialty earning an average of $162,900 annually. You guessed it.
We’re talking about Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists. Almost half of the nurse anesthesiologists practicing today are men, 41% compared to about 10% for all other RN specialties. The CRNA graduate programs demand a bachelor’s degree and an average of 3 years of experience working as a registered nurse. After admission, education requirements range from another 2 to 5 years and average almost 10,000 clinical hours. Some graduates go onto pursue fellowships in specialized areas such as pain management. This career path can be as long and arduous as a path in medicine.
As the stigma of being a man in a mostly female field decreases, the number of male nurses out there is growing. In some specialties like anesthesia, men are represented almost equally! This is a good thing. Male nurses have broken through typecasts to show that they contribute to the profession in many ways and are important members of the healthcare team.
Nursing is an honorable occupation for men or women. Now that we’ve debunked the myths about male nurses, you can see why we need men in nursing. They don’t wear pantyhose, but they’ve got big shoes to fill.