Male Nurses Are Still Few and Far Between

nursingMale nurses have always been a slim division in an industry that's been booming for years -- an industry still dominated by women. According to Male Nurse Magazine (who knew?), out of the approximately 2.6 million registered nurses in the U.S., there are still only around 7-8 percent who are male nurses.

So what is it about nursing that fails to attract men to a solid career that not only pays well, but also offers a good slice of job security during the coming decade?

-- See hourly rates for different nursing specialties.

Traditionally, nursing has been the domain of females for reasons of personal preference and interest, and also because of hiring restrictions in male-dominated fields such as technology and finance. Even in the midst of a stale job market, however, male nursing numbers don't seem to be increasing much.

This begs the question: Are men not flocking to the field of male nursing because of gender stereotypes, or is the job not being marketed as a position suitable for both sexes? Regardless, nursing is still one of the top contenders for burgeoning industries, and the benefits for men choosing nursing as an employment field are quite numerous. Here are the major benefits:

-- Compare the ratio of men and women in nursing.

Steadfast job stability

Despite the rough economy, the nursing field has been consistently growing -- you can't stop people from aging and getting sick. And with Baby Boomers heading into retirement, the need for qualified RNs is going to boom even more.

High starting salaries

The average starting salary for a nurse in the country is around $40,000, and the majority of U.S. nurses currently earn in the $65,000 range. And with the need for more qualified registered nurses in the future, salaries are predicted to continue on an upward trend.

-- See average salary for registered nurses.

High job satisfaction

Polls have shown that despite the sometimes odd hours and stressful environment, many nurses have high self esteem and a higher than normal job satisfaction rate, which they attribute to being in a well-respected field. Although the nursing field can be intense and demanding, the reward of helping others and making a positive difference in someone's health is a worthwhile trade-off.

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hello. i don't want to be rude, but why isthis job appealing to men more?? like my fiance, he all of sudden wants to quit fire fighter academy for nursing school. but from everything he has told me, i don't think this is the right job for him. he isnot nurtering or sysmpethetic to one's needs. isn't that a big part of this job. sometimes, i dont think their should be men in nursing at all, when i see how distant and unhelpful they are in the ER or other hospital settings, i say maybe there is a reason women dominate the field. nurses where invented during the dark ages to assisst in nursing the upperclasses infants and take care the children as well. not until more recently, have nurses been more effective in the hospital. i just cant see a man in this field. maybe thats because i come from a blue collar family and have watched alot of "Meet the Parents" . But this doesn't compute, i need to be open minded, but i really would like the input of a male nurse with some experience handling sterotypes

May 26 2011 at 11:48 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Greg, From what you shared in terms of "male nursing" and nursing in general All I can can say is..Nothing truer have I ever read.

It appears one must daily go down to hell, pass through oblivion, and somewhat numbed do it all over again each day..over and over..the madness.

If you've kept your sanity and integrity intact, then this is superhuman. God bless all of you.

Greg, may I ask a question? Would you consider going back to home health? WHy or why not?

August 21 2010 at 9:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Just as there are so many venues to practice nursing, there are bound to be just as many opinions in satisfaction or lack of with experiences we've all been through.

In 32 years, the time has flown, myself having worked for State of NY facilities, one a children and youth unit and another at a 'famous' correctional facility (psychiatric in both cases). I've also worked for 13 years at a regional medical center and gained a wealth of experience in orthopedics, oncology, pediatrics (including exposure to NICU), med surg and cardiac telemetry with ACLS certification. I ventured into home care, eventually ending in a supervisory role in an office job, where all my past experiences were applied to the needs of our clients from infants to elders.

For the past 5 years I've worked for the Veterans Health Administration in geriatrics and extended care; do not let that moniker fool you, as the acuity level of residents is increasingly and extremely challenging, we provide not only long term care, but short and long term rehab, hospice/palliative care, and also respite. I am in charge on the evening shift as the only RN on a 62 bed unit which also deals with long term antibiotic therapy, often requiring use of PICC lines, lab draws for Vancomycin levels when the lab is not available. We care for residents with any type of ostomy you care to dream of, chronic and complex wound cares, often using wound vacs, and just to add to the mix, an occasional post CABG patient.

Sounds great so far, right? Wow, I must be just beside myself with all this experience, gung-ho and a real leader guiding my charges through thick and thin...not. Despite having taken a wonderful year-long leadership training course which included 3 days of coaching seminars, I spend my entire shift putting out fires instead of having the time to plan and implement what I learned to encourage my charges with all the wonderful things I learned in that year.

I will not 'dis' my place of employment...having been in a lot of RN jobs (7), and one thing I have learned there are all good and bad characteristics in every workplace. While I do not doubt there are so many dedicated people working, truly caring for those in their care, every place also has a culture of never forgiving, always willing to believe rumors, legacies never die once reputations/opinions are formed.

I think this is part of what Bill, above was saying...he called it the 'old boy network', and I agree with every single point he made because I've seen and experienced those things. I would add my own 2 cents on being a male in the my experience, I was looked upon as either being gay, or hitting up on some guy's girl while we worked together. Until you've gone to a holiday function and experienced being shunned by the males in the room because of those perceptions, you will never know. Male nurses truly are a minority and are treated as such.

And NMRabbit nailed just about every other thing that is wrong with the profession. After reading her comments today, it was very comical to go to work reading some e's from higher-ups joking about some of the same things (bad food) while saying "you know you are a nurse when", in celebration of National Nurse's week. Yeah, and my knees are killing me too, they forgot to mention that humorous daily occurence that makes me just want to entertain the Vets and try to do perfect cartwheels like I did when I was 10 yrs old. How many crippled looking people do you see venturing to their vehicles, and then to your horror realize that is a formerly vibrant, energetic co-worker who is leaving at the end of their shift?

To lenore and sammieee79, I say God Bless You for having survived for so long with your rose color glasses intact. I do not doubt you feel the way you do, but are both sorry we feel the way some of us do.

I might be wrong but I think 'sorry' is an expression of guilt, needing to compensate for something you did to us. While that is impossible, I feel 'saddened' you feel guilt for something you did not do to us, because let's face it, nursing was, still is, and shows no indications of changing the fact we are made to feel guilty because it is the RN's responsibility.

Deep down I believe all of us still do really feel our moments of success and satisfaction, but the fact is at the end of the workday, I know I will have to do it all over again tomorrow, and the effort made will not truly be appreciated, but worse yet not understood by others above nor below us. Once nurses cross-over into management, they cannot understand the day to day stresses of being front-line responsible, and I have actually had a few managers tell me, "If it hits the fan, I am not going down".

That is no way to build trust, foster respect for subordinants, and reinforces the guilt we were tr

May 07 2010 at 3:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i agree with lenore. i LOVE my job as a nurse! i work 3 days a week and make excellent money without working overtime. i work in a hospital and it is a stressful job at times, but there are 4 days to relax afterward. i'm sorry your experiences until now have made you miserable, but in a profession with a hundred different types of nursing and jobs available without having to get a new degree there is no reason to say nursing sucks as a whole. i am proud and grateful to be a nurse!

May 03 2010 at 4:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

As a male nurse I would like to comment on a few things:
1) Nursing mat be an in-demand field, but pay and advancement opportunities are minimal. There is a lot of lateral movement, but not much vertical. High pay is also dependent on having special skills. A base RN can make money, but you need overtime to do it.
2) Call it sexist, but as long as males are not in "positions of power" there will always be blatant backstabbing and favoritism running rife through the industry. Kind of like the "old boy network", but more noticeable.
3) The public perception continues that a male nurse is either 1) homosexual, 2) an orderly, or 3) a failed doctor can make the job very tiresome.
4) I am not a miracle worker. I am someone trying to earn a living following contradictory rules and regs for people that tend to be very ungrateful. I don't order the pills, don't ask me to change them or give you something else. I can only push what a doctor has ordered.

OK People, go to it.

April 04 2010 at 4:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Bill's comment

As a female RN, I've worked Recovery Room, ICUs, Burn/Trauma, ER, Telemetry (worst by far)- it's all the same. Back-stabbing vicious high-school girl politics aren't just directed at men in "Nursing". It's a crap 'career'- advancement opportunities are few- and if you do become an administrator/ hospital executive, the hospital is just going to sell in the future and you will be out of a job and looking for another nurse administration job that there are precious few of. You get to spend lots of time on stressful and inane computer/paper charting, and can never find a pillow to make the patients more comfortable, or a thermometer to take a temperature- yet the hospital CEO makes $300,000+/yr. I feel sorry for the patients, for the nurses, and even for the doctors- who work like dogs, and end up angry and depressed. The whole sysytem is ruined by our lawsuit-fear directed medicine, cost-containment for actual hands on health-care w big profits for insurance companies medicine (JUst think if you- or your child- needed a skin graft- one could be grown from your own tissue- but IT COSTS TOO MUCH so the insurance company says - no we only pay for donor grafts), and the belief that health can be obtained through a pill. Nursing is not a profession- I would never reccomend it- and to those in it I say- Get yourself out of it ASAP, avoid modern-medicine as far as possible, too. Get off your arse and start exercising those painful knees and quit eating corporation food- processed drek/frozen foods/fast foods/ hamburger helper/cola/cheap chips/cheap candy- avoid high fructose corn syrup, factory-farmed meats, and hydrogenated oils.
And do not go into 'Nursing'- what a name for a profession!

April 04 2010 at 8:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i am so sorry you feel this way about nursing. i have been a nurse for 30 years and have loved the opportunity and flexibility this PROFESSION has to offer. i do agree that hospital nursing is stressful and not for everyone, but there are so many other avenues to choose. i am empowered and independent due to nursing.

May 02 2010 at 10:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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