Male Nursing School Students

Historically the nursing field was designed for women: young female nurses were trained in hospital nursing programs to support physicians and provide bedside care to patients. This type of care, after all, was in the very nature of women to provide, right?

Unraveling a Pink Collar Industry

Thankfully the field of nursing has shed its women-only chains that kept it subjugated to other healthcare fields for decades. Now the field is wide open and buzzing with increasing numbers of men. But issues in the field remain.

Despite the fact that the number of men in nursing remains tiny, according to some sources men have served in nursing capacities for centuries, especially caring for the sick and wounded in war zones. But the most press is given to women as nurses from the Civil War forward. The original schools of nursing were opened specifically to young women, instructors/educators were women, and in an increasingly industrialized world this field seemed tailor-made for females.

Unfortunately movers and shakers in the field have reason to break down these industry barriers.

Advantages to Men Entering Nursing

The job factors that work to attract men to Nursing include:

  • Diverse patient care environments that may appeal to men include Emergency or Trauma nursing, flight nursing, anesthesia nursing—all are environments in which you might find a nearly equal number of male nurses working.
  • Career stability appeals to many men as much as it does to women. Particularly for career changers the field provides consistency and stability even as workers age. In many professions both men and women can be ousted as they age—even though this type of “ageism” is illegal. But you hear of few nurses being edged out of the profession. In fact the field allows you to continue working nearly as long as you’re able and fit to provide care. AND in many instances you have appealing retirement benefits when you’re ready to take advantage.
  • Particularly attractive to many men is the career solidity regardless of economic downturn. Also appealing are the common sign-on bonuses offered to new nurses.

Pink Collar Factor

One of the biggest controversies in nursing is that it remains largely a “pink-collar” job. That is the field is dominated by women and in combination with that is bundled with a few disadvantages that have plagued women in the workplace for decades:

  • The salary for nurses continues to lag behind what many believe is more applicable for job demands and the responsibility. Historically the salary has been low because the field is comprised of women, versus men who generally demand higher incomes.
  • Still a stigma is associated with men in nursing. Since it’s considered by popular public opinion to be a “woman’s job,” nursing remains unappealing for many men regardless of career and salary flexibility.

Advertising and Marketing for Men

The notion that nursing is for women requires some heavy advertising and marketing to unravel. This is a preconception lodged in many people’s minds, albeit outdated and plain wrong. Some of the more significant ways in which the public perception is being unraveled is via images in advertising and marketing. Nearly all advertising images created for prospective nurses now include both female and male models in the mix, this includes the marketing materials produced for schools of nursing. Over time images can have significant impact on the collective psyche.

One particular nursing association, the American Assembly of Men in Nursing, provides support for male nurses through collaboration, annual conferences, scholarships, and coverage of nursing issues as they pertain to men studying and working in the field.

Hospitals and schools of nursing continue to urge men to become involved in the field of nursing. As more men make the move to nursing, many more will surely follow.

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