According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 12% of registered nurses in America are male. Fifty years ago, they comprised 2%. While the proportion is higher, the goal should be an equal representation of the population we serve. Men are invaluable when it comes to leveling the field of a once female profession.
Reasons men are an asset to nursing:

1. They do not gossip

They just don’t. If they enter a gossip zone, they either quickly remove themselves from it or divert the conversation with a joke. “Do you know why the tissue did a little dance? Because it had a little boogie in it.” Bad dad joke? Maybe. But you smiled and changed your thought process, didn’t you?

2. Men keep calm and order

Yes, women are capable of doing this as well. While we females are hesitant to admit, there are patients that just do not respond the same way to our energy as they do to male counterparts. Many times, in my career I have been verbally or even physically abused by a patient. A male nurse can walk into a room and his presence or tone accomplishes peace. De-escalation skills are valuable in maintaining harmony.

3. Male nurses often enter the profession as a second career

Their first careers have usually taught them organizational and critical thinking skills, as well as time management and great customer service. Military experience is present or coexisting in many men choosing to continue service in civilian life. While 12% of the American nurse force is male, the Army reports it’s male nurse population to be triple that percentage. The previous experiences of male nurses are steeped with innovation, engineering, analytical and structural talents. All components to a successful healthcare environment.

4. Men display grace under fire

Yes, women do as well. However, this article is why we should embrace men into the profession. This is not to say men do not experience the same stress and emotions as their female counterparts, but are less apt to wear them on their face or sleeve. Their quick-thinking action and adrenaline-seeking nature, often call them to specialties where these abilities are best utilized. Emergency rooms, Intensive Care Units, and administration are paths that males often take.

5. Gender does not define nurture

In the 21st century, roles are not defined as they were once historically laid out. Male nurses are just as capable of holding a patient’s hand, providing a listening ear, and comforting patients and families through grief.

6. Men and boys make up half the population

Male nurses should make up half the patient setting as well. When it comes to tasks such as foley insertion, male patients can certainly feel more comfortable with a man. The advantages of men having a male nurse are more complex than just matching anatomies. Males can identify with each other psychologically and emotionally as well. When male clients enter the health system, their identity; career, and family roles can be challenged. Man to man talks is something a female nurse just cannot engage in. Pediatric boys especially identify with male nurses as role models, often opening up to them in ways they shut off to female nurses.

When I report to my unit to find 2 or 3 men are on duty alongside me, I rejoice. I know it is going to be a good shift. I feel the stage set for success. Together we can collectively use our psychological, organizational, and innovative talents to deliver superior care to the complexity of patient needs. The inclusion of men in the profession should be as diverse as the population we serve. A variety of staff should represent the inclusion of clients. This diversity will create more meaning, fulfillment, and satisfaction for patients and healthcare workers alike.

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21st Century