Let’s get straight to the question. Can guys be nurses? Yes, men can be nurses. Historically nursing has been a female-dominated field, but that doesn’t preclude guys from becoming a nurse. The only criteria needed in becoming a registered nurse is to have a passion for caring for patients who are sick or hurting.
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Men Can Be Nurses
There are almost 4 million nurses in the United States (sources). A little over 3 million of them are female, and a little over 300,000 of them are male, according to the United States Census (sources).
Looking specifically at registered nurses, 90% of all registered nurses are female.
Let’s look specifically at male R.N.s. In 1979 the number of males working as a full-time R.N. stood at less than 50,000 growing to over 350,000 in 2016 as the gender disparity in nursing began to break down a little, according to Montana State University (source).
The growing number of male nurses shows there is no reason for more men not to take the plunge and study for a degree in nursing.
Historically the field of nursing has been linked to females since the 19th-century when the popular image of Florence Nightingale, the “Lady with the Lamp” became famous caring for soldiers during the Crimean War (source).
The link between women and nursing has since remained in place ever since with popular culture in the mid-20th-century perpetuating the myth of women as nurses.
The myth of women as the ideal candidates for nursing came into being in recent history and has remained in place until the late-20th-century.
Different Forms of Nursing
The traditional gender roles of men and women are not the same as they used to be with the rules governing gender identity being blurred over the last few decades.
Men have traditionally had this stereotype of being seen as more detached and less open to showing their feelings. That stereotype is starting to disappear as many men are more open to showing their emotions.
In the 21st-century, male nurses are taking on the nursing roles formerly reserved for females. For example, a delivery nurse in a maternity unit or OB/GYN office can now be a male with the idea this is somehow strange or unpopular being left in the past.
For men who are looking for a challenge to help them achieve great things in their career or who have a desire to help those who are hurting, nursing is now a positive option to take.
According to Nurse.org, many guys who go into nursing tend to go into the more “exhilarating” fields of nursing, for example, the psychiatric units, emergency rooms, and intensive care units.
A Tough But Rewarding Role
One of the problems many nursing specialists find is the confusion over male nurses being confused with other medical professionals.
The Chamberlain University website reports around 50 percent of patients polled initially believed their male nurse was a doctor in charge of their treatment (source).
Male nurses are often called on to take on specific roles within the department they choose to work in. The traditional view of the male as “strong” and “reliable” means many male nurses take on tasks such as lifting patients and moving heavy equipment.
Male nurses still make up less than 10 percent of all nursing professionals in statistics published in 2018.
The fact that average salaries for nurses in the 21st-century are far higher than many of those for similarly skilled jobs in the U.S. means becoming a male nurse is a tough but rewarding career choice.
Frequently Asked Questions
These are commonly asked questions related to men in nursing.
1. What are male nurses called?
Male nurses are called nurses. For more information, you can check out the article “What Do We Call a Male Nurse?“
2. Do male nurses make more money?
According to Fast Company, there is a wage gap between male nurses and female nurses. They report that male nurses are paid more than women who are nurses even when variables like workplace experience are accounted for (source).
3. Is there a demand for male nurses?
According to multiple statistics and the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a huge demand for nurses (source). Job growth for registered nurses is supposed to remain at 15% (which is much higher than in many professions) till 2026.