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Does the Nursing Industry Need More Men? Industry Professionals Say Yes


The severity of the U.S. nursing shortage is well known. Politicians, CEOs, and nursing administrators are all looking for a solution to the growing problem. Raising wages, creating more educational opportunities, and increasing the number of providers on the floor are all great options, but these kinds of changes can take years to implement.

That’s why some industry professionals say recruiters should focus on bringing more male nurses into the fold. Men make up around 49.5% of the U.S. population and attracting more of them to the industry would substantially increase the number of providers in the U.S., according to some experts.

Men account for just 12% of all nurses in the country largely because the field is seen as a female profession. The term “male nurse” can carry a stigma in some situations, but being a nurse is anything but unmanly. Data  shows that most male nurses tend to come from other careers and often include former firefighters, police officers, and even members of the military, all male dominated fields.

Studies show increasing diversity can improve patient outcomes and that applies to gender as well. New evidence has also emerged that suggests patients prefer speaking to a provider of the same sex when talking about their health.

In a recent op-ed for The Washington Post, analysts wrote that it’s a mistake to leave male nurses out of the equation when talking about the ongoing nursing shortage. They estimate that giving men parity in the field would add some 3.5 million nurses to the national workforce. “Hitting even a fraction of that figure would be a significant milestone and improve the lives of millions of Americans. It’s a long-term investment the industry can justify,” the authors added.

But men looking to enter the field would eventually run into the same problems as their female counterparts, including staff shortages, unsafe working conditions, low pay, and a lack of educational opportunities.

Daniel Arellano, a nurse practitioner and graduate faculty member at Southern New Hampshire University, said there were less than ten male students in his class of 80 when he was in school, but the numbers have gotten better since then.

He believes more men should consider becoming NPs as a way of reaching new population centers. It will also help providers earn the most money for their time, depending on where they live.

“The nurse practitioner track is growing the fastest since there are greater needs for care providers in the inpatient and outpatient environment,” he said. “Nurse practitioners are ideally positioned to help in the practice of medical care in rural communities.”

Established male nurses say the job is a great fit for anyone likes to move around instead of sitting behind a desk all day.

“You’re always on your feet, so I always wear sneakers because you run around all day,” says John Bergacs, a flight nurse in Reno, Nevada, who earned his MBA in Healthcare Management, “Men do tend to gravitate toward critical care nursing, which may seem to an outsider as more technology-focused and less personal, but I can assure you there are many hands held, backs rubbed, feet washed, bed linens changed and words of encouragement shared in these environments, too.”

It’s also a sure-fire way to get a job right out of school in today’s unpredictable economy. “The biggest benefit is going into a career with high demand and a good aspect of employment coming out of school,” Bergacs added.

Cesar Bonilla Ramos, a dialysis nurse in Boston, Massachusetts, agrees that “male nurses are often drawn to higher acuity environments such as critical care, flight nursing or emergency medicine.” But he says, “They’re represented in almost every nursing specialty.”


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