Despite long-held concerns about the stigma surrounding male nurses, some nursing programs have seen an uptick in male recruits.
For example, at Washington state's Centralia College, close to 23 percent of the nursing program is composed of male students, compared to the 5 percent national average, according to the Chronicle. Of the program's two 24-student classes, there are four male students in the second-year course and seven in the first-year. Staff in the nursing program told the Chronicle they could not remember ever seeing a class with so many male students before.
Program Director Nola Ormrod agreed, saying that although the program has usually had some men, it has come a long way from a previous year when there was only one male student. Ormrod suggested men are increasingly looking to the nursing field as they seek retraining and second career opportunities, contributing to an overall change in mindset.
"I think more men are discovering it as something they are interested in doing," said Chuck Hill, an assistant professor who teaches within the nursing program. "There are a lot of men who just wouldn't have thought of nursing as a career and they are now considering it as an option."
In North Platte, Nebraska, Mid-Plains Community College's nursing program has undergone a similar change, according to KNOP2. Of the 56 students enrolled this year, five are men, a number that has slowly increased since 2010. Trevor Blake, a first-year nursing student at Mid-Plains and president of the college's chapter of the Nebraska State Student Nurse Association, pointed to the social stigma as a reason for the low numbers nationwide. He added, however, that male nurses could be an untapped need for male patients.
"There's certain things I'd rather be talking to a male [about] for privacy reasons," he told KNOP2.
Experts believe recruitment of men to the nursing field is necessary both to diversify the workforce and counter nursing shortages, FierceHealthcare previously reported. The number of men in the profession remains low but has tripled since 1970, and male nurses are on average paid more than female ones.