It might come as a surprise to learn that five of the 11 nurses who died in the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2011, were men. They also were emergency medical technicians, rescue workers and firefighters who combined their two careers or worked at both of them. These men were considered models of bravery and strength, and yet all the obituaries mentioned how much each man loved the profession of nursing.
Male Nurses Are Still in the Minority
Despite stories like this and some gains in numbers, the percentage of male nurses is still low. In 1970, 2.7 percent of nurses were male. By 2008, 6.6 percent of the more than 3 million registered nurses were male. In 2015, 9.6 percent of nurses were male.
Patient and Public Perceptions of Male Nurses
One of the biggest barriers for men who want to become a nurse is public perception that nurses are almost exclusively women. The days of a homogenous nurse workforce are long gone, but the image somehow endures through the news, entertainment and advertising industries.
Why Men Are Needed in Nursing
According to a 2010 Institute of Medicine report, men provide a unique perspective and set of skills that are important to the profession and society. The report also noted that the profession of nursing needs more diversity — in gender as well as ethnicity. Studies have found that patients are more receptive to healthcare providers of similar cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and that may well translate to gender, too.
Why Men Should Become Nurses Today
Traditionally, nurses have been poorly paid, but salaries today reflect the degree of professionalism and education that today’s nurses possess. Advanced degree nurses can make more than $100,000 a year and many salaries in various fields for nurses with a bachelor's degree, depending on the area of the country, top $60,000.
Some nursing positions come with flexible schedules and security — the latter becoming more and more prevalent with the looming nursing shortage, which experts predict will grow to 260,000 by 2025. This shortage, caused by the aging nurse workforce, the aging boomer population and the increase in the number of insured patients, means salaries and benefits will continue to be favorable for nurses.
Male nurses are greatly needed among the ranks of the profession now and in the future. Because nursing offers a great variety of specialties, solid salaries and job security, it is a good time for men to consider nursing as a career.
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