The feelings over having men in the field of nursing have changed dramatically over the past four to five decades.

While men were once practically banned from the field, many are turning to this career today to enjoy its benefits, personal rewards and growth possibilities.

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Is Nursing Considered a Good Career Path for Guys?

Thousands of male nurses are finding out that nursing is a great profession for guys because of the flexibility of the career. Most people think of nurses as being primarily females, but that stereotype has changed dramatically in recent years.

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Do Guys Actually Become Nurses?

Although it may come as a surprise to you, guys actually do become nurses today although not nearly in as high of numbers as women do.

In my class of over a hundred, fewer than a dozen students graduating with me were men. Of those, most went into critical care nursing or eventually became certified nurse anesthetists.

Once I began my career, I saw the same type of numbers. Most people I worked with in cardiac intensive care were females, but there was certainly a strong cohort of men.

Many of them preferred to work during evening and night shifts or over weekends when they could function more independently. I and my coworkers often relied on them to help with more difficult patients who needed frequent repositioning. The take-charge attitude they brought to critical care was certainly refreshing.

Today, increasing numbers of guys are turning to a variety of career paths within nursing. Gender stereotypes are being destroyed, and men are reaching out for what they really want rather than what society might be saying. Of course, as more men have gone into nursing, society as a whole has become more accepting of this role over time.

The History of Men in Nursing

Originally, men took on huge roles in medical fields. For centuries, men were the primary people taking care of those who were ill. Monks cared for those injured while traveling. Male battlefield nurses were common even during the time of the American Civil War.

When Florence Nightingale began the modern career of nursing in the 1860s, women filled the ranks, taking care of suffering individuals on battlefields as well as at home. It was not until after World War I that the desegregation of men and women in the health care field really took off.

Men who had served in medical capacities on the battlefield were interested in continuing down this career path in their civilian lives. By the 1960s, equity in education and employment for men in the nursing field finally came to a head.

Today, men continue to gain in numbers in the field of nursing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 12% of nurses today are male, which compares quite favorably with the less than 3% who were in 1970.

a chart comparing how many males are in nursing
Gender demographics of the nursing profession. Comparing the number of male vs female that were in the nursing profession in the 1960s compared to 2019.

The Mid-Career Change to Nursing for Guys

While increasing numbers of guys are turning to nursing as a career path directly out of high school, others are turning to the field as part of a mid-life career change.

Adults feel more empowered than ever to pick a career that appeals to them even if it means going back to school. For many, this means turning to the rewarding nursing career, a career that they may have felt pressured not to choose when they were teenagers.

Increasing numbers of men are coming out of careers in public safety and even the military to enjoy a completely different line of work.

While some do discover that there are gender stereotypes in nursing, such as the expectation that they will do all the heavy lifting on the nursing floor, most enjoy their line of work and search for ways to transfer their previous work skills to their new line of work.

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Benefits of a Nursing Career for Guys

As a guy in the nursing field, you can expect to enjoy many benefits that will make this the most rewarding possible career for your life.

The nursing field is continuing to grow exponentially, and you can expect to find great job security here and plenty of opportunities for change and advancement. In fact, nursing is expected to grow by 12% between 2018 and 2028 with over 300,000 jobs added in that time.

If you become a bit bored with one particular nursing path, there are literally dozens more from which you can choose. Plus, you will love the solid salary with differential pay for working evenings, nights or weekends. The average annual pay for registered nurses was over $73,000 as of 2019.

Of course, if you love to destroy gender stereotypes, this is definitely the right path for you. You can bring real change to your community, your health care organization and the entire field of nursing by proving that men can be amazing nurses who are appreciated by both male and female patients and who do not have to be barred from rewarding and stable careers.

Most Common Nursing Career Paths for Guys

While male nurses can be seen in virtually any field of nursing, they do tend to gravitate to particular areas of the hospital.

It is rare to find a male nurse working in a clinic. Instead, the guys that I have worked with love the drama of the emergency room or critical care department.

Many have also gone on to become certified nurse anesthetists or have furthered their educations to become nurse leaders or managers. This is particularly exciting to men who may be turning from business careers to health care careers.

Some popular nursing career options for men include the following:

Final Thoughts

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While there are still far more women than men in nursing, guys are certainly making great progress in infiltrating this exciting career path.

If you are a guy, there are plenty of jobs out there for you, many of which you can find on our easy-to-search online job board.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Are male nurses in demand?

    Because of the nursing shortage, nurses in general are in high demand. Whether it’s male or female more nurses are needed to enter the work force.

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