Editor's note: this blog has been updated to reflect current information. What's your reaction to the phrase "men in nursing"? Perhaps it's time to address the stereotype.
Men in Nursing: Addressing the Stereotype
According to the United States Census Bureau on registered nurses, more than three million nurses were employed in facilities across the country in 2019. Of that number, only 500,000 were male.
In a field that’s made up of less than 16 percent of men, the number of misconceptions surrounding men in nursing is profound. These range from suggestions that men can’t bring the same depth of emotional care to the belief that nursing is (and should be) primarily a woman’s job. The misconceptions not only hinder the growth of men in the field but also impact current male nurses.
Here at Concordia, we recognize that both men and women can bring unique perspectives and skills to the profession. So, there is a need for both in order for the field of nursing to flourish. We’re excited to have male students represented in both our undergraduate and graduate nursing programs.
An early passion for nursing
Jake Switzer is one such student. Growing up in a medically driven family with a mother who was a nurse, Switzer was constantly in and out of the hospital. That early and constant exposure helped to take the mystery and fear out of the medical world. This quickly cultivated a passion in him to pursue health care.
“I always knew that I wanted to work in health care, but I realized that nursing was a really good place to start,” Switzer said, “Once I got [to Concordia], I really grew to love it.”
Aside from nursing, Switzer also plays ice hockey for Concordia. He studies nursing by day and plays hockey by night—a combination that some people find a little odd.
“Some people are a bit surprised,” Switzer said. “When I show up at the rink with my scrubs, I get a bit of trouble from my buddies.”
However, despite the stereotypes and fun jesting, Switzer thinks the tide might be starting to turn when it comes to public perception of men in the field. In fact, some patients even prefer nurses who are men. Encouraging men to enter the profession not only helps with public perception change and creating a more balanced workplace but also directly impacts the quality of patient care that can be offered. Without having nurses on staff who are men, the comfort and preference of patients who prefer male nurses has to be bypassed in order to provide care.
Going against the stereotypes
Richard Condon, another Concordia nursing student, also grew up in a medical family. He sees a good nurse as being determined not by gender but by the possession of a few good qualities. If you have the qualities, you’ll succeed regardless of whether you’re a male or a female nurse.
“You have to definitely be a people person,” Condon said. “If you don’t like people, you’re probably not going to like nursing much because that is what our predominant role is. And you have to be a jack of all trades. You’ve got to know a little bit about everything and enough about everything to take care of a person, health care wise.”
Despite his own passion for the profession, he has encountered some stereotyping from his peers. Mostly friends from high school who tried to persuade him to go the doctor route instead of pursuing nursing.
“It’s going against the stereotype,” Condon said. “It’s one of those things that people can’t figure out because they’re so used to seeing the male doctor and the female nurse.”
But that didn’t stop Condon from pursuing his nursing career. For him, it comes down to the amount of care he has for people. That caring spirit is the motivation that continues to drive him forward.
“Every person has somewhat of a caring portion in them, it’s just how they access it,” Condon said. “For me, I care for people enough to dedicate my career and my education and so much time and money into becoming well-rounded and knowledgeable. But you can’t just explain it away. You have to show it, you have to show that you’re willing to take the time. And willing to get down to a personal level and know your patient and explain it.”
That kind of dedication to quality care is what we work hard to build into each of our students here at Concordia. So whether they’re male or female, whether they stay at the bedside or decide to move into other facets of health care, that commitment to excellent service remains the driving motivation.
Ready to start?
Are you ready to pursue a career in nursing? To learn more about Concordia’s nursing program, check out all the different degrees that we offer.
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