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Male Nurses: Looking Past the Stigma

Male Nurses

The caregiving nature of the nursing field has often been relegated to being “women’s work.” Women have been entering male-dominated industries for years.

Some fields have even begun as “women’s work,” only to be taken over by men and later reclaimed by women. While it is true that the nursing field is predominantly women, that should not devalue the education, training, and skill that is required for quality nursing care.Men have begun to realize that nursing provides a good paycheck but also a sense of purpose; they have been entering the field increasingly since the 1960s. This is partially due to the growth of female-dominated industries at the same time that male-dominated industries are declining. Men are considering jobs that never crossed their minds before. 

Stereotypes About Nurses


In 1960, only 2 percent of nurses were men. It has now increased to around 13 percent. Men are overcoming the stigma associated with male nurses to pursue a career that continues to be in high demand.

The concept of the male nurse has often been met with stigma in our culture. Nurses have been seen as “less than” doctors (who used to be predominantly male). The belief was that nurses merely assisted doctors. Many people did not realize that nursing can be just as strenuous and intellectually stimulating as being a doctor. Nursing also requires its own set of skills and knowledge.


Nursing Facts


Entry-level nurses can begin with an associate’s degree in nursing. The median salary for a Registered Nurse is $68,450 a year or $32.91 per hour. Hospitals and medical facilities are often hiring for nurses because the demand is so great. Finding a good job tends to be much easier in this occupation than in other fields.

Statistics show that most nurses begin nursing as a second career. Perhaps they had worked in another field before but were laid off or decided that they wanted to increase their income. People will start their nursing education in their 30s and 40s, and this has been the same for both genders. Nursing opens the door to new opportunities in the healthcare field.

Advanced Nurse Practitioners require several more years of education than Registered Nurses. An RN can begin with an associate’s degree and get promoted once earning a bachelor’s degree.

NPs and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) need a master’s degree or a PhD to practice as nurses without the oversight of a physician. An NP can have their own private practice and do many of the same things that a physician does.

Nurse anesthetists are a type of APRN that specialize in administering anesthesia to patients during surgery. Currently, about half of all nurse anesthetists are men. The median hourly pay for a nurse anesthetist in 2015 was $50.36, while the median annual salary was $104,740.


Looking Past The Stigma


Perhaps one of these days, a stigma against male nurses will no longer exist. Men are realizing that this career field provides many opportunities for growth and can also be a very lucrative career.

The caregiving aspect may appeal as well. Nurses treat patients and often spend more time with patients than physicians. Because of this, nurses develop a rapport with the patients in their care and have a chance to make a difference in someone’s health.

Expanding gender roles have also helped to lessen some of the stigma associated with male nurses. Careers should not be considered “men’s work” or “women’s work.” The keys to success in any field require a combination of education, skill, and determination.

Patients also benefit when nurses represent them. For example, male patients sometimes hide their pain or their concerns when working with a female nurse out of embarrassment or a desire to seem masculine and strong. Male nurses would be able to get these patients to open up about their intimate health concerns.

Men can find careers in nursing. All it takes is the required level of education, determination to succeed, and a desire to help people achieve better health. Look past the stigma and learn what becoming a male nurse is like today.


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