Although there are still challenges to be faced by men in the nursing profession, today’s male nursing student does not face some of the obstacles that once were common. Nursing became a predominantly female profession around the time of the Civil War, despite the fact that men had been involved in the field during the 19th century. By the start of the 20th century, many nursing schools would not even accept male students. Today, all nursing schools and colleges are open to men, who now make up about 9 percent of the U.S. nursing population.
Current Day Challenges
Although men now have ready access to nursing school, some may still find a few challenges that are unique to their gender. One challenge may be faced early on as not all nursing schools recruit men as aggressively as they do women. If recruiting is still more “traditional” in its approach, men may have less confidence in whether a school is a good fit for them. They should bear in mind, though, that it just may be that a school’s marketing department hasn’t caught up with the times. Some men may still face stereotypes about male nurses from fellow students or even teachers. It is also possible that men may face at least some latent resentment from female students who have learned that men typically out-earn their female counterparts in most nursing specialties, despite the fact that there are overwhelmingly more women in the profession still. One thing to keep in mind, as a male student, is the fact that the earning disparity is indeed a fact. In nursing, the male-female earning disparity is at least much smaller than in most other professions, with full-time female RNs earning about 93 cents for every dollar earned by male RNs.
Keeping a Good Attitude and Finding Support
Keeping that fact in mind, however, is one thing. Blaming yourself for the fact is another. Male students didn’t create the current-day trends in nursing, either the ones that seem to favor them, or the ones that seem to challenge them. Some patients are not yet comfortable with the idea of men as nurses. It helps to remember that all nursing students, whether male or female, have challenges. Some are unique to gender but many of them are shared. Finding ways to be honest about those challenges with your fellow female students is a good idea. Another good idea is to find a support group that will help you with your specific experiences as a male nurse. One group that offers resources and support to male nurses is the The American Assembly of Male Nurses.
Although there are still some challenges for men in the nursing profession, if you feel confident in your decision to pursue a career in nursing (please see, How Do I Know if a Nursing Degree in Right for Me?), you can overcome these challenges. Nursing draws on important skills and critical thinking, and both women and men can excel in the field. The current shortage of nurses ensures that both genders are needed in the profession. As a male nursing student, try to stay confident in your calling and look for resources when you do encounter challenges.