More men enter nursing--and earn higher salaries than women

Amid increasing demand, more men are entering the nursing profession and are earning higher salaries than their female counterparts, concludes a new Census Bureau study.

Schools are actively seeking to increase male enrollment in nursing programs, which seems to have paid off as the number of male registered nurses more than tripled to 9.6 percent in 2011--up from 2.7 percent in 1970.

Moreover, the proportion of male licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses has more than doubled to 8.1 percent, according to a research paper.

Nursing still remains predominately female; women accounted for 91 percent of all nurses in 2011. But despite the majority, men out-earned women with an average $60,700 salary, compared to $51,100 for female nurses.

Men also were more likely to enter the nurse anesthetist field (41 percent male), which pays more than twice as much as other nursing fields at $162,900 a year.

The Census Bureau notes the gender pay gap is smaller in nursing than other professions. Yet medical professionals are disturbed by the continued salary disparity between the sexes, FiercePracticeManagement previously reported. For instance, a true apples-to-apples comparison showed female physicians make $12,000 less annually than male physicians.

Nevertheless, the upward trend in male nursing can be seen in Wisconsin, where 12 percent of nursing students at Viterbo University are men, reported the La Crosse Tribune.

"I think nursing overall is looking to promote diversity," Viterbo University's School of Nursing Dean Silvana Richardson told the Tribune. "People feel confident with others with whom they can identify."

The influx of men into the profession also could provide welcome relief, given research suggests the nursing shortage will reemerge as the U.S. economy improves, according to a November study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

For more:
- here's the announcement and study (.pdf)
- read the La Crosse Tribune article