Nursing has long been considered a bastion of women for a variety of reasons. But the dynamics have changed over the last few years with more and more men entering into this profession.
Traditionally, men who decided to enter this woman-dominated profession have faced many biases. While some thought men became nurses because they were unfit to be doctors, others questioned men’s abilities to be nurturers and caregivers. In fact, until very recently, male nurses were not allowed to enter maternity wards and labor rooms. It may come as a surprise to many, then, that nursing was a male dominated profession historically. The first nursing school established in India in 250 B.C. was a men-only school.
Although men who enter this profession still face subtle prejudices, a lot of effort has gone in to bring about a change in perception. Many universities are actively working towards removing perceived barriers to this occupation and encouraging the participation of men in their on-campus and online nursing programs. Frameworks such as American Assembly for Men in Nursing have also been formed to promote and support nursing as a profession amongst men.
Exciting Career Opportunities
With healthcare emerging as one of the fastest growing industries coupled with a growing demand for trained nurses, many men now consider this profession exciting in terms of both career advancement and personal fulfillment. Also, contributing is the availability of online nursing programs that open up a new avenue to study nursing as opposed to traditional classroom learning.
Men looking to enter this profession need to complete at least an Associate degree in Nursing and pass the certifying exam to practice as a Registered Nurse. However, higher degrees such as Bachelor of Science in Nursing or a Master’s degree in Nursing may also be required for career advancement. Many universities are also offering accelerated online nursing programs to encourage students to take up this demanding profession.
Nursing offers everything that a man desires from a career – job security, attractive pay cheque, flexible hours, exhilarating and fast-paced work environment. The profession has also acquired certain amount of glamour thanks to popular medical soaps such as ER, Greys Anatomy, General Hospital, Scrubs to name a few.
And the timings couldn’t be better for men to enter this profession. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, registered nursing is going to be one of the fastest growing occupations in the next few years generating 587,000 new jobs by 2016. To offset the shortfall of registered nurses, many hospitals are offering signing bonuses and benefits such as child care to nurses with experience.
But in spite of all these encouraging factors and a change in the stereotypical perception of nursing, the percentage of registered male nurses in the country remains low. Men make up only six to seven percent of the entire nursing population in the U.S. As compared to other countries (10 percent in United Kingdom and 23 percent in Netherlands), America has a lot of catching up to do.