Men in Nursing


Number of Men in Nursing

Nursing in the United States, and any other country is a profession where women outnumber men by far.  In the US only 9% of the nurses are men.  The situation is not likely to change soon as many men grow up thinking that the term "nurse" means a female caregiver.  Lots of people get surprised when they see a male nurse and those who have taken the bold step do not have it easy. They have to grapple with the myth that no man wants to be a nurse, and those who get into the field are "wannabe doctors" who could not make entry grades to a med school.

Historically men and women more so members of the religious order took care of the sick and dying.   After invention and improvement of nursing education,   most of the trainees were female. Florence Nightingale remembered to be the pioneer of nursing believed in education women to nurses because it was like an extension of their role as caregivers.  


History of Female Domination in Nursing

The idea of male nurses is not new. Early nursing schools at different countries had men. They helped to take care of the sick and wounded soldiers during the battle. Some believe that during the war, most men joined the military and naturally it was women who took over nursing. Another explanation is that 1800s Victorian constraints are prohibiting the mixing of male and female students limited men's access to nursing. At the time nursing had lower salary and status thus it was considered to be women's work. After the war period, women continued dominating nursing. According to Bureau of Labor statistics, the percentage of the male nurses in the United States was at the lowest in the 1930s and 1940s when it fell to about 1%.

A decision nursing schools in the US for most of the 20th century to only admit women locked out many men. It took a 1982 Supreme Court ruling during Mississippi University vs. Hogan case to reverse the single-sex admission policy because it was a violation of the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection clause. Since then, the number of male nurses has been increasing, but the percentage of those who have broken the gender barriers is still small.

Efforts to Increase the Number of Men Nurses

"Are you a man enough to be a nurse?" This is a title that The Oregon Center for Nursing started to use in a 2002 campaign to encourage recruitment of males to nursing. Recently, it has become the focus of new attention. Although women still dominate men in the nursing field, the number of men entering the field is increasing drastically. The economic crisis that made people fight for every available job and much publicizing about the shortage of nurses have been the primary reasons why the number of men joining nursing is on the rise.

There is more encouragement and support for the men to pursue nursing than at any other time. Currently, many nursing schools and hospitals now have an active campaign on traditional and social media to market nursing as a profession that men should consider. AAMN (American Assembly for Men in Nursing) has been active in encouraging men enrollment to nurse schools. The aim is to increase enrollment of the men to various nursing programs to 20 percent by 2020. School and hospital recruiters are using targeted ads on websites and publications with a higher number of male readers.

The above and many other efforts have led to a gradual change of the image that nursing is a woman-only profession, and more men have joined the profession playing a part in reducing the shortage of trained nurses in their small way.

The highest numbers of males in nursing serve as nurse anesthetists where the number of men is over 40 %. The percentage of male Registered Nurses increased to 9.6% in 2011 from 2.7% in 1970 and since then the number in on the rise. In the same period, the percentage of men who work as licensed practical nurses or licensed vocational nurses has grown to 8.1 percent from 3.9 percent.

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The employment opportunities for male RNs continue to increase.  According to a report by U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), registered nursing positions have been increasing by over 20% from 2008 within physician offices, clinics, and hospitals. The trend is likely to last up to 2018 and beyond. 

The training requirement to become a registered nurse requires students to obtain a BSN-Bachelor of Science in Nursing- or MSN (Masters of Science in Nursing) Degree from an accredited university.  After earning the degree, it is a requirement to pass a state certification test before practicing.   Attending workshops and conferences on a regular basis helps male nurses to gather additional continues education that helps to increase knowledge and skills.  When you enhance your skills frequently, it increases your chance to earn a higher salary and make significant progress in your career.


Male nurses work in varous settings to provide health care for patients.  The nurses can specialize to work as cardiologists, pediatrics and oncology to monitor and treat patients. Their workstation can be a hospital, clinic, physician office, private organization, community center or school. A male nurse usually called a registered nurse can monitor care for patients, provide emotional support and educate families offering long-term patient care.


The main work for a male nurse regardless of the facilities where they work is promoting health for all patients. The daily duties of a male nurse are to monitor the symptoms and progress of each patient.   A nurse can also be called upon to check for specific vital signs, draw blood, administer medication, document concerns by patients and maintain IV lines.

Male nurses work together with doctors and surgeons to chart, observe and report symptoms and progress by their patients. It becomes their responsibility to communicate with medical and other hospital personnel. Their duties oblige them any concerns they may have with the physical, social and emotional well-being of the patients under their care. Their findings enable them to devise suitable care plans for each of their patients.

Often male nurses are required to advocate for patients who cannot do it themselves. These persons include patients with disabilities and orphans. In certain circumstances, it is necessary that male nurses offer a perspective for patients of their gender. AAMN facilitates men nurses in their research and education about men's health issues and tips for male nurses. These resources help to improve their skills to present community educational programs and health workshops addressing the needs of both genders.

  • Why the Men Should Consider Joining Nursing 

    Despite the historical female domination in nursing, the reputation that it is a "women only" profession is fast diminishing.  The percentage of men nurses is still disproportionate at 9-10%, but nursing is a vast field that is now more open to men than before. A nursing career has many advantages for the men such as career stability, competitive salary, and job security.  For them men who are still undecided on whether to train and practice as nurses, here are some reasons that make it an appropriate choice.

  • 1. It is an opportunity to address nursing shortage 

    World Health Organization statistics show that the total number of nurses in active practice in U.S health care decreased considerably since 2000 thereby creating a demand for nurses. Another reason for the shortage is that the age of the U.S population is increasing leading to a higher demand for nursing services.  Aged people need long-term and end of life care. More facilities are recruiting men to join nursing as a solution to address the critical shortage of nurses.  There is much demand for well-qualified nurses, and it will be the same for the foreseeable future.

  • 2. Variety of specialty options 

    Nursing offers various patient care environments. Some of them are particularly appealing to men. These include flight, anesthesia, emergency and trauma nursing. Nursing is not one size for all profession. It presents professionals, male and female with a wide array of specialties that enable everyone to pursue a career in the specific area of interest.

    Other nursing specialties that arouse the interest of the men in the field include:

     Middle management

     Nurse practitioner

     Oncology

     Nurse Educator 

     Psychiatry

     Pediatrics 

     Administration 

  • 3. It is a way to break gender gap 

    Certain types of jobs have always had a gender stereotype. Nursing is one of them. The male nurses are the ones who have the historical disadvantage of fighting the stereotypical image compared to the other career choices.   It is important to bear it in your mind that there is no significant difference in the quality of health care provided by a well trained and compassionate nurse male or female. If you have the compassion to take care of patients, you should not be held back by the stereotypes.   Nursing is a valuable career the help to improve the quality of life for another person.  When you choose to nurse, you will have the support of organizations such as AAMN that offers scholarships, organizes conferences and coverage of the nursing areas of particular interest to the men.

  • 4. Stable   career 

    A stable career field is an addition to financial incentives for the male nurses, and it is unlikely to slow down shortly.  The retirement benefits are usually appealing. It is usual for employers to offer nurses sign-on bonuses.  Even at times when the economy is shaky, nursing remains a financially stable and reliable career for many.  More and more nursing schools and hospitals are enthusiastic to recruit a higher number of men to nursing as the need for well-trained and qualified nurses is still high. Men who shatter the stereotypes and gender biases will find themselves in fulfilling and financially stable positions.

  • 5. Competitive salaries 

    Even if the nursing is an occupation that women dominate overwhelmingly, men still earn more. It is somewhat a surprise to see such a gap that has been in existence over the years considering that women have historically dominated the field and you would have though it is the men who earn less.  The average annual salary for both genders has been on the increase since 1988, but the pay gap between them has always existed.

    The average salary for male nurses is about $70,000 compared to $60,000 for the women.   For each dollar that goes to a male full-time nurse, a woman earns 91 cents. When you take into account the factors that influence salary gaps including nursing specialty, experience or geographical location, the pay gap of $10,000 trims by about 50 percent. This gap is smaller for hospital nurses and larger for outpatient centers. It, however, exists for all specialties except orthopedics.

    Regarding hourly rates, a nurse practitioner with experience of fewer than 5 years an average $40.84. A nurse practitioner with 20 or more years of experience earns an average of $42.56 per hour.   Men earn more than women nurse practitioners by about $ 6.21. The biggest pay gap is for nurse anesthetists –about $17,300. The smallest pay gap is for middle-management nursing which is near $4,000 hence large by standards of other professions.

  • Reasons for huge salary gaps 

    Labor experts believe that these are the reasons why men nurses earn more than their female colleagues.

     Gender discrimination 

     Some nurses leave the workforce at some point to have children and return to low pay scales than their male peers who were working and gaining experience during the absence. 

     Male nurse are gifted negotiators for pay rises as shown by research on gender pay gaps across all professions 

    Stereotyping exists in nearly all areas of the society, and it should not hinder you from joining nursing.   The use of calling somebody "a male nurse" will soon come to an end as more men are becoming nurses. After all, only a few people call anyone a "female doctor." Many people find it more acceptable to call someone a doctor.

    After all most patients, colleagues and employers do not care about the gender of a nurse.  All they want is someone to do a perfect job. 


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