Last week, the New York Times published an interesting piece on nursing, ‘Forget About the Stigma: Male Nurses Explain Why Nursing Is a Job of the Future for Men’. As a nurse practitioner I work with plenty of dudes and am well aware of the advantages of nursing and advanced practice professions, but I was intrigued by the NY Times’ take on the matter. The article dove deeper than most and explored a few key reasons nursing can expect an influx of testosterone in the near future.
Today, just 13 percent of the nurses in the United Sates are male. While this seems like a small percentage, that number was just two percent in 1960. And, economists say the share of men in nursing is expected to increase. Why?
1. It’s tough for guys to find jobs with a livable wage
The job market for men isn’t what it used to be. Many traditionally male dominated professions and trades like operating machinery are disappearing as companies automate or take these tasks overseas. In turn, the number of men aged 25 to 54 years old who are not working has more than tripled since the lat 1960’s to 16 percent. That’s an astonishing figure. Guys have a few options – they may remain unemployed, seek lower-wage work, or get educated and find a new profession. Nursing offers the flexibility for the latter allowing men to earn a livable wage in the face of economic change.
2. The nursing profession is hot, hot, hot!
Health professions are among the fastest growing jobs in America. The nurse practitioner profession, for example, is expected to grow by 35% between 2014 and 2024. Physician assistants can expect similar growth at a rate of 30% in that timeframe. While many health professions like that of NPs are female dominated, the availability of jobs in these fields prompts guys to join the ranks.
3. Gender roles are a-changin’
While there’s a longstanding stigma against men in nursing (ever seen “Meet the Parents”?), attitudes are getting more progressive. Nursing and other caregiving jobs are traditionally seem as “women’s work”, but there’s increasing acknowledgement that nursing is rooted in a skill set rather than a gender or personality.
4. There’s plenty of time to choose a career path
The barrier to entry of many professions is quite high. Interested in becoming an attorney? You’ll have to go to law school. Want to become a physician? You can expect four years of medical school followed by a residency. Nursing, in contrast, offers several paths to entry and education in the field is available at many affordable institutions. Going back to school for a nursing degree is an attainable, affordable career step for a large number of people. While many men may not have considered nursing when initially selecting a profession, it’s not too late to give it a try later in life.
Most nurses are still women but for guys taking the leap into this female-dominated field, it’s not always bad being the underdog. Male nurses are paid more than women. They are also uniquely positioned to provide care in certain circumstances, when a male patient would feel more comfortable with a male nurse inserting a foley, to name one. In some cases, since men are seen as a minority in the field it may be even easier for them to land jobs than their female counterparts. Ultimately, over the next several years, we’ll continue to see the number of male nurses and NPs increase.
Have you seen an increase in the number of male nurses and NPs in your workplace?