As any police officer will tell you, television is notorious for making certain professions look more glamorous than they actually are, but for male nurses, TV may be doing the reverse, a new study indicates.
Researchers analyzed the presentation of men in nursing in five recent American TV series: Grey's Anatomy, Mercy, Private Practice, Nurse Jackie and Hawthorne. They found these series often attempted to address stereotypes of male nurses.
However, "the men were often subject to questions about their choice of career, masculinity and sexuality and their role usually reduced to that of prop, minority spokesperson or source of comedy," the researchers wrote in the Journal of Advanced Nursing. "Thus, rather contradictorily, although the [programs] often sought to expose common stereotypes about men in nursing, they nonetheless often reinforced stereotypes in more implicit ways."
As a result of this perceived ridicule, men may be reluctant to enter the field, Roslyn Weaver, Ph.D., an adjunct fellow at the University of Western Sydney School of Nursing and Midwifery and lead researcher, told Reuters Health.
"[W]hen men in nursing are almost invisible in popular culture or are stereotyped as incompetent or somehow 'unmasculine', then men who choose to enter nursing can find it difficult to combat this," Weaver said, "Perhaps reflecting this, there are often higher attrition rates for male students than female students in nursing."
A 2012 study by David Stanley, an associate professor of nursing at the University of Western Australia, studied the topic of male nurses in movies and had similar results.
But a Census Bureau study earlier this year paints a different picture. It found that, due to increased demand, more men are entering the nursing field, and the percentage of registered nurses who are men has tripled since 1970. Not only that, the average male nurse's salary is nearly $10,000 more than that of the average female nurse, FierceHealthcare previously reported.