Male Nurses: No Longer A Rarity

Number of Male Nurses Tripled in the U.S.

One of the few brights spots in the economy has been the fast-growing health care field. As a result, more male workers are entering the booming sector, and an interesting phenomenon has emerged: The nursing profession is becoming more male.

The proportion of men who are working as nurses in America has tripled since 1970, according to new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Ten percent of nurses are now male, compared to just 2.7 percent in 1970. And the newest entrants to the field are earning more and making on average about $10,000 more than their female colleagues, according to the study. Male nurses earn an average of $60,700 a year and female nurses just $51,100.

What's behind the wage gap: Of course, in all sectors, male tend to earn more than females. The wage gap has been attributed to various causes, from discrimination to women working fewer hours. But the study finds that more men are entering the higher paying nursing jobs, such as nurse anesthetist. That job comes with an average pay of $162,900 and 41 percent of nurse anesthetists are male.

In speaking to CBS News, co-president of National Nurses United, Karen Higgins, speculated that more men are going into management positions. "If there's a difference in pay, there's a difference in the job. We see men in a management position which is a higher paying job," she said.

What's behind the 'Greg Focker' phenomenon: Still, all of the nursing occupations are attracting more men as the field continues to grow. The American health care sector has been the single largest source for jobs growth since the beginning of the financial crisis and recession. ("Focker," as played by Ben Stiller, was a male nurse in the "Meet the Parents" movies.) Indeed, both long-term care and end-of-life services fields reportedly are suffering from a "shortage" of nurses, according to the study.

More: 10 Great-Paying Nursing Jobs

But male nurses still face ridicule: As AOL Jobs reported last year, male nurses are routinely subject to hazing in hospitals, with even doctors "joking" about the sexual preference of male nurses. One Reddit user who claimed to be a male nurse wrote about experiencing teasing from co-workers. He claimed that he'd been called "murse" as a put-down, though he himself wasn't bothered by the term.

Growth doesn't necessarily translate into jobs: The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that demand for nursing and psychiatric aides will grow by 18 percent in the 10 years ending in 2018; and the need for registered nurses, who are required to have more education, will rise by 22 percent by that time. But the growth has not yet translated into jobs for new entrants. Roughly 4 in 10 of newly licensed RNs still do not have jobs within 18 months of graduation. Why? For starters, as CNNMoney reported, there's a bottleneck of nurses in hospitals, preventing newly certified nurses from gaining the experience needed to land a job.

"The process has become more and more discouraging, especially since hospitals want RNs with experience, yet nobody is willing to give us this experience," Ronak Soliemannjad, a 26-year old who's recently graduated with a nursing degree, told CNN Money.

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I'm a male nurse and let me tell you - many of the male nurses that I have talked to speak of rampant discrimination (only to other male nurses) and harassment. Many leave the field citing too few hours, or discrimination (by staff and or patients), leaving behind degrees to work in the trucking profession or construction for example.

I have been unemployed now for going on 5 months. Both of my last two jobs were temporary and so I have enjoyed long periods of unemployment. Unfortunately, the public sees nursing as a high demand field and so it makes it harder to apply for non-nursing positions. Worse still, many employers won't hire you unless you have a half dozen extra certificates which you may or may not be able to acquire - for example, I got stuck at coronary care 1 - since no coronary care 2 was made available this past year; meanwhile, some places are demanding coronary care 3 (I didn't even know there was a 3!).

Also making it difficult to find work is the new nurse initiative put out by the province which essentially locks older nurses out of full time positions. I'm really regretting my career choice, and wish that I had just saved the steep tuition and stayed working as a security guard.

Just my two cents (it's all I have left).

December 11 2013 at 2:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I find the male nursing facing ridicule comment interesting. I currently am a Paramedic going through the RN / BSN regimen, and while I definitely notice that there are far more females in the program, out and about in the hospitals I just don't notice it. Hopefully the thick skin gained from EMS will pay off in the hospital setting. Going into nursing and advanced care seemed like the logical choice, sure its easy for a paramedic to get hired by an FD and you could pull your 25 and be out, but why not make more money, work in a much safer environment, out of the elements, and avoid career ending back injury. If there is a stigma, its being projected by ignorant people. Im sure my girlfriend won't mind the better pay and better hours, plus no where in emergency services (outside of a hospital based system) do you get paid extra for working overnights and weekends, I think thats a huge factor, being financially compensated for your life being inconvenienced.

November 04 2013 at 10:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

no thanks

August 29 2013 at 4:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I see a lot of sexism aimed towards men, on this article. But it's aimed towards men. No big deal!

May 14 2013 at 11:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Male nurses? I've ran into them for more than 40 years....I don't get it.

May 09 2013 at 5:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to liondog96's comment

All about paying the bills.

May 09 2013 at 8:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm shocked that men didn't catch onto this profession sooner. Two years to earn an RN and walk out earning $50K yearly in my neck of the woods (Central NJ).

May 09 2013 at 3:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I teach nursing at a local university and have had all kinds of men in my classes - single dads rearing their kids alone, retired cops and firemen, artists, businessmen.... and they are wonderful! The guys are compassionate, careful, attentive, fine scholars and have decided to come into nursing to make a real change in peoples' lives. None of my students (men or women) have chosen nursing for the salary because they know how physically, mentally and emotionally demanding the work is. There are easier ways to earn a good living. I applaud all nurse - IT'S NURSES WEEK ! - and especially the men in my classes who have decided to enter our beloved profession. Way to go, guys!

May 07 2013 at 1:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

We have a lot of male nurses. I don't believe the pay scale itself is any different. But I do notice that male nurses tend to gravitate towards those areas that pay everybody more, such as ER, OR, etc. That might account for the increase. But women who go to those areas also get higher pay. As to hospitals not taking new grads, I don't really blame them. It costs a lot to have to re-train and re-educate a new nurse. Most hospitals that accept new grads have special programs they have to go through before they can be put on the floor. That costs a lot of money. And then they get their experience and move on to other venues. The education is so lacking. It has been "dumbed down" to accomodate the lack of skills and preparedness of those going into college. And the mentality of those who come to our facility for clincials is honestly disturbing. It's no wonder hosptiatls are reluctant to make that kind of investment. There are ways around it. Many facilities will take on their own employees as new grads. Work as a CNA, apprentice, or a tech and your odds of getting a position as a new grad are greatly increased. But if you don't want to do "grunt" work to get your foot in the door, then don't complain when you cannot get a job later.

May 07 2013 at 1:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
carol lowery

I have had a couple of male nurses while hospitalized and a home PT male, I was very happy with all 3 and feel they are better than female nurses who sometimes can't be bothered. I would be more than happy to see more of them on the job.

May 07 2013 at 1:04 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I don't see anything wrong with a man being a nurse. It's a helpful profession and is in demand. I've even considered it myself. It takes a lot more schooling and expense to become an MD so being a nurse (RN) is more within reach. I wouldn't mind being called a "murse", I actually like the word and think it's funny. I worked in the health field with elderly for years in a retirement home. Private caregivers are very much in demand and I know men and women who do that work. They don't have any strange attractions to their clients. I will agree with Sumo that men can often feel less nurturing but that doesn't mean that men can't be a nurse and do their job professionally and with compassion as a doctor can (or sometimes can't).

May 07 2013 at 1:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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