A Growing Number of Male Nurses Are Closing the Gender Gap
Close your eyes and picture a nurse. What does that person look like? Before you get too far in your visualization, take a moment to appreciate that, for most, the vision of a nurse is a woman. Nursing is one of the few female-dominated professions, so it stands to reason that male nurses have not traditionally been top of mind — but that’s changing as more men enter the nursing field.
The female-dominated industry is shifting
It’s deeply embedded in our culture that nursing is for women. Media portrays nurses as female in movies and TV shows. The stereotypical vision of a nurse is female. Why? For a century (or more), nursing has been a predominately female field. In 1977, female nurses made up 98.05% of all nurses. Today, these numbers are shifting with male nurses shifting the paradigm by entering the field in higher numbers.
In the past 40 years, the number of male nurses in the field has increased 10x. Where men made up less than 2% of all nurses in 1977, they made up 9.6% in 2018. Each decade, the number of male nurses has increased exponentially — and this trend is expected to continue.
The influx of male nurses isn’t just optics; it’s having positive effects as well! There’s long been a stigma surrounding male nurses. As more men enter the field and bridge the historical gender gap, this stigma is disappearing, giving male nurses the recognition and support they deserve.
Why are men joining the nursing field?
The year-over-year rise in male nurses begs the question: Why are more men deciding to choose a nursing profession? There are a few reasons.
One potential explanation for the recent rise in male nurses is the pandemic. More healthcare professionals were needed during the public health crisis, and many men were up to the task. Since 2020, male nursing rates have been on the rise.
The pandemic wasn’t the only catalyst for the increase in male nurses. Men were joining the nursing field prior to the pandemic. Nursing is a noble profession, allowing individuals to give back to their community and care for others. For many men, this served as a call to arms for the profession. As gender roles have shifted, men have felt freer to take on nurturing roles in their personal and professional lives. Nursing is a great fit. The shrinking stigma against male nurses made it easier for more men to take up their calling in the healthcare industry.
Nursing provides great benefits as well, including excellent job security. After all, healthcare has always been and always will be needed for the public. This is particularly true in recent years, as the need for nurses increases across the country. Nursing also allows for a variety of professional opportunities. Nurses can specialize in certain areas of healthcare to tailor their skills and experience to align with their interests. There are countless certifications and specialties that nurses can pursue over the course of their careers.
Finally, nursing pays well — especially in the realm of travel nursing. Since the pandemic, travel nurse pay rates have been on the rise, as the rise in demand increases as well. Men are realizing that nursing can be both a fulfilling and lucrative career path that gives them flexibility, the ability to travel, and more.
Regardless of their specific reasons, men are increasingly turning to nursing and making a lasting impact in the field.