Essay Title - Men in Nursing
When we think of nurses, the typical stereotype image is a “she”. As the nursing shortage continues to be a problem, looking into having more men in nursing seems to be a viable option to alleviate the current crisis. There have been men in Nursing throughout history, but only now, men are being noticed more than ever. Gender biased and misconceptions about “male” nurses have prevented men from joining in Nursing. As the increasing demands for nurses continue to grow, men are attracted at the possibilities of better opportunities and advancements in a career in Nursing. This paper examines the history, the challenges, and the future of men in Nursing.
According to a book by O’Lynn & Transbarger (2007) during the ancient times in Greece, the first known trained individuals to provide nursing care were men supervised by the male physicians” (p.9). Males were the nurses because women’s roles back then was to their homes. In 250 B.C.E. the first known formal school of nursing was started in India and only men were admitted to the school because it was believed that women were not considered “pure” enough to serve as a nurse (p. 9). Men had to become skilled in cooking, bathing, bedmaking, physical therapy, caring for patients, and to be obedient to physicians. In ancient Rome, military hospitals were established and male nurses known as “nosocomi” were employed in them (p.10). When the Black Death struck Europe, military and non-military nursing orders cared for the sick and abandoned and bury the dead. The Protestant Reformation period brought significant change to the disappearance of men in nursing. Monasteries, convents, and hospitals that were staffed by various religious orders were closed. Military nursing orders diminished due to lack of funding and political instability with military pursuit, and governments banning their activities. “Although men continued to work as nurses when intimate care for men was needed or when physical strength was required to subdue confused or mentally ill patients, large number of hospitals, such as Maisons-Dieu of France, requested nuns as nurses” (p. 22). Men continued to nurse the injured in hospitals, but they also started working in exploration and colonization of the Americas. The first self identified European nurse to set foot in the U.S. was Friar Juan De Mena. During the Civil War in the US, outbreaks of yellow fever, typhoid, small pox, and dengue fever ravaged the South. Many African American men served as nurses for White residence and in their communities.
Florence Nightingale is most remembered as a pioneer of nursing, but she had a big influence with the demise of men in nursing. O’lynn & Tranbarger (2007) argued that “Although no one individual was more responsible in ushering in a period of female domination of nursing than Nightingale, three social changes were underway prior to Nightingale that contributed to the reduction of the number of male nurses” (p. 23). First, as mentioned the decline of monasteries and male nursing orders combined with relative increase in number of convents and female nursing orders during the Renaissance. Second, nursing became a low status-low pay positions assigned to women. Third, and perhaps the greatest deterrent to men in nursing was the Industrial Revolution. In the early 20th century in the US, Leighty (2007) pointed out that it wasn’t until after the Korean War that men were permitted to serve as nurses in the military. Nursing school began opening their doors to men in the early 1950s, and by 1966 men made up about 1% of the nursing force, which steadily has increased (Leighty 2007).
Barriers and Issues
In 2005, a survey was done by Bernard Hodes group to determine the reasons why there were few men in nursing. According to the article by Weber (2008), of the 498 male nurses who responded, 73% cited negative stereotypes as a barrier to men pursuing a nursing career, 59% identified nursing’s reputation as a traditionally female profession, and 42% reported a lack of male models and mentors. Other reasons given were difficulty of being a minority gender, being seen as “muscle” by female nurses and being called upon every time heavy lifting is needed, and perception that men are “not caring” (Leighty 2007). Meadus & Twomey (2007) stated that the public perception that men who nurse are effeminate or gay is seen as a major deterrent for men to enter in nursing. As noted in an article by Weber (2008), gender-based barrier occur at the greatest intensity during nursing school because faculty members still push to mold men into feminine-model nurses. Also nursing schools are not seriously recruiting men except some schools.
According to the 2004 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, only 5.8% of the 2.9 million RNs in this country are men (Weber 2008). The nursing school enrollment of males now hover between 8% and 12%, with some regions and schools more successful at recruiting men than others (Leighty 2007). So, why do some men choose nursing as a career? Some are motivated by job security, salary, and career opportunities, but others are just “passionate” about helping others. In an article by Williams (2008), she suggested ways to recruit men in nursing. She proposed making nursing school more co-ed, recruiting young men in high school in becoming nurses, male nursing scholarships, and opening closed doors for male nursing students in clinical settings especially when female patients are involved.
There have been campaign and strageties to recruit men into the nursing profession. Meadus & Twomey (2007) mentioned that in the US, for example, Johnson & Johnson features male nurses in television commercials and on the Internet. Another campaign by the Oregon Center for Nursing used a poster with the slogan “Are You Men Enough..to be a Nurse?”. In response to the difficulties men have encountered, the American Assemby for Men in Nursing was founded in 1971 to encourage recruitment, provide support to male nurses and increase visibility of men in nursing (Meadus & Twomeny 2007)