Male nurses increase as stigma subsides

Although nurses remain overwhelmingly female, the number of men in the profession is slowly increasing as nursing schools make an effort to recruit more, according to the Associated Press.

For example, Seymour, Indiana's Schneck Medical Center now has a male nurse in nearly every department, and the total has grown threefold since the early part of the 2000s. Although nine out of 10 nurses are still women, according to the article, the number of men in the field has grown dramatically over the last few decades, reaching 9.6 percent in 2011 compared to 2.7 percent in 1970. Despite concerns that a cultural stigma discourages men from entering the field, Luke Acton, Schneck's manager of surgical services, said this perception has not affected his career.

"I never had anybody say, 'No, I don't want you to be my nurse because you're a guy,'" Acton said. "Actually, I feel like it's kind of the opposite. I think there's a positive stigma out there for male nurses in general, so I've never had any issue with it. I think that, if anything, it's probably helped."

Despite this, there is still work to be done in recruiting men and minorities to the profession, leading nursing colleges to try to attract more of both groups to the field. One major draw, Acton said, is the array of jobs in various sectors nurses have access to beyond hospitals, such as the insurance, pharmacy, quality or leadership sectors.

Experts believe improving diversity in the nursing field is vital to improving patient care and offsetting potential nursing shortages, FierceHealthcare previously reported. "It's important that nursing diversification mirror what is happening in our population. Men provide unique perspectives and skills that are important to the profession and reflect the quality of care delivered," said Christopher Kowal, R.N., adjunct professor of nursing at American Sentinel University.

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