The key reason for gender gap in the nursing field in the perception of the role of women and nursing. This relationship is very strong to the extent that the professionals in the nursing sector identify males with medicine while associating women with nursing. The personalization of nursing implies negative consideration of the career by males compared to other masculinized roles such as medicine and aesthetics. As such, various studies have revealed that the nursing profession involves less power, is more invisible, and negatively valued in regards to economy. This perception is patriarchal and traditional based, and has a great impact on the patients as well as the self-esteem and self-conception by the nurses themselves. This act of stereotyping in the field has a great impact on the decision of an individual to pursue the available nursing studies, particularly men who are more demeaned in such careers. Amidst this perception, it is important to understand that the field of nursing has a lot to offer male nurses, and thus, stereotyping the field should be minimized. This paper consider the various reasons why men should consider pursuing nursing as a career.
Why Men should Join Nursing
Over the years, men have been significantly underrepresented in the nursing field. In 2011, the Australian nursing fraternity constituted only 9.9% of male nurses with a similar small figure (9.6% in the United States. Although the field has always been female-dominated, the reputation as “a woman only” career choice is diminishing. This phenomenon has been associated with the fact that the field is considered a career for women, and as a result, few men are willing to venture in the stereotyped field. Although the number of men in the profession is still small, more men are beginning to choose the profession as a result of the widening nature of nursing specialties. A career in nursing offers men many advantages, including having a stable career, competitive salary, and highly diverse care. As such, this report outlines the various reasons why men should join the nursing profession with an aim of reducing stigmatization and stereotyping in the nursing field.
Shortage of nurses
One major reason why men should consider exploring the nursing field is the fact that there is current shortage of nurses. The World Health organization reveals that the number of nurses working in the U.S healthcare sector has reduced gradually since 2000 which has caused the demand to rise (Aranda, Castillo-Mayén, & Montes-Berges¸ 2015). Additionally, there is an increase in the aging population which generates a growing demand for nurses who provide long-term and end-of-life care. As such, more and more facilities are willing to recruit men in order to curb the rising shortage of nurses. According to McKenna, Vanderheide, & Brooks (2016), there is shortage of nurses in the healthcare sector, and as such, many men joining the workforce will help solve the issue. The authors, however noted that lack of role models have prevented males to join the workforce; they stated that, “with a perceived shortage of role models for males entering the profession, there is a need to profile those currently in the profession as role models for others” (McKenna, Vanderheide, & Brooks, 2016). With encouragement and motivation, men can join the nursing field to occupy the available roles.
Variety of nursing specialty options
The available variety of nursing specialty options are also key reasons for males to explore the nursing occupation. There are various patient care environments which might be appealing to men, including flight, trauma nursing, emergency, and anesthesia (Aranda, Castillo-Mayén, & Montes-Berges¸ 2015). Other common occupations in the field that may appeal to men are: nursing education, oncology, pediatrics, psychiatry, administration, and nurse practitioner. In an interview conducted with Mr. Danny Walker who is a male nurse, it became apparent that there is a lot of activities that male nurses can perform in the nursing field. He explained,
“The physicality of male nurses comes in handy whenever there is some heavy lifting or a task that requires extra muscular energy, which may not be comfortably carried out by a female nurse. This makes the male nurses more resourceful in the work place. The extra roles and duties that can be assigned to a male nurse in a hospital have the effect of making them become valuable assets in the hospital setting” (D.Walker, personal commutation, February 10, 2017).
Apart from the fact that there are various specialties that men can pursue in the nursing field, it is evident that they are resourceful in the handy works that would only require masculine energy to accomplish.
Need to break the gender gap
By pursuing different specialties in the nursing field, there will be a possibility of breaking the nursing gender gap that has been experienced in the past years. Many jobs always have stereotypes attached to them, and nursing is considered among them (Aranda, Castillo-Mayén, & Montes-Berges¸ 2015). It is unfortunate that male nurses have been exposed to the stereotypical image of pursuing nursing related careers, although there is no difference in the quality of care that a compassionate, well-trained male nurse could offer compared to the female nurse. It is, thus, important that men who are interesting in the nursing field understand the value and validity of the career choice. In his article, Men in Nursing: Shock and Awe, Walker (2011) confesses the existing gender gap in the nursing field, and explains why he got motivated. In his personal note, he stated,
“When I entered nursing nearly 30 years ago, male nurses were already applauded and encouraged. We were told men would elevate nursing’s status among the health professions and increase nurses’ pay. As a student and a fledging nurse, I remember thinking, “Why does a female dominated profession need men to elevate its status?” I concluded that nursing doesn’t need men. If men offer anything to nursing, it’s not a function of our maleness. If we offer anything, I believe it emerges from our common humanness” (p. 3).
Through Walker’s confession, it is evident that males have begun developing courage and motivation towards pursuing nursing as a career. They can always be supported by organizations such as the American Assembly of Men in Nursing that provides scholarship opportunities as well as conferences and convention offering nursing topics that may interest men (MacWilliams, Schmidt, & Bleich, 2013). This will soon aid in bridging the gender gap in the field.
Better salaries and remuneration
Furthermore, the nursing career offers very competitive salaries that may attract many male nurses. Although dominated by the female nurses, male nurses in the same field always out-earns the females. In relation to the salary and remuneration, the male nurses would be encouraged with fact that nursing is a stable and solid career field (Rosenquist, 2008). It is reliable and consistent with appealing retirement benefits. With the existing shortage, it is common that new recruits in nursing are provided with sign-on bonuses; this might attract even more males to the field. According to Rosenquist (2008), “Schools are now actively pursuing higher male enrollment in their nursing programs. The relatively high wages and expanding job opportunities makes this field attractive, offering stability even during recessions.” The idea that the nursing job is associated with higher remuneration and expanding opportunities should be able to attract many males into the career.
Studies have also revealed that male nurses are highly paid compared to their female counterparts. The Medscape Salary Report (2015) showed that the male nurses earn higher than females in both APNs and RNs (Peckham, 2015). In this case, it is assumed that the gender disparity favors men. The survey findings of Medscape were supported by JAMA study conducted in 2015 which found that there is a salary gap among physicians in regards to gender. With this in mind, it is evident that males can easily be attracted to the nursing field due to better wages (Peckham, 2015). Those who are derived by remuneration and extrinsic values can easily consider the career. Walker (2011) also noted that Licenced Practical Nurse (LPN) earns about $37,000 per year at the beginning of their career. Alternatively, one may choose to become a Registered Nurse (RN) and earns a basic salary of about $50,000 per year, but this may vary up to $63,000 due to shift differences. The figure below illustrates the compared salaries of male and female nurses in the nursing career.
Fig 1: The varying salaries of male and female nurses in the nursing career
Source: Medscape Salary Report, 2015.
In their study, McKenna, Vanderheide, & Brooks (2016) attempted to understand the various reasons why male nursing students have been considering the female-dominated career for a while. In their findings, they determined that most of the male nursing students (56%) had considered pursuing the course within a period of one year while the rest took two or more years to make the choice. There were multiple reasons that the study revealed for the consideration of nursing career by men. McKenna, Vanderheide, & Brooks (2016) noted that, “in the current study, career stability was the most common reason reported, followed closely by the diverse practice opportunities offered and seeking a caring profession.” Hence, the authors suggested that since it is a stable career option, nursing should be considered in various career exhibitions and recruitment campaigns to engage more prospective male nurses. This will help to bridge the gender gap and reduce the stereotyping element of the career.
In conclusion, the nursing career can be pursued by all genders. Males have a lot to gain in the career especially with the fact that some patients hold better perception towards care when attended by male nurses. More hospitals and nursing schools are currently in need of more nurses to join the field; with the availability of men exploring such careers, the shortage of nurses will be minimized. There is also a need for training and qualified nurses in different roles that may be masculinized; with males having interest in the field, such occupations can easily be occupied. The salaries that the nursing field offers is also motivating; this is accompanied with various benefits such as retirement packages and healthcare cover. With such favorable conditions, it is important that males consider these careers to meet their financial goals. Various authors like Walker believe that nursing is a calling; men who have passion and enthusiasm towards giving back to the society and serving the people should willingly join the nursing career to be able to get the opportunity of serving. With more advocacy and awareness creation, stereotyping of the field will be reduced, and more of male students would be interested to consider nursing as their career choices.