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How, and Why, to Recruit Male Nurses

Lena J. Weiner, for HealthLeaders Media, August 25, 2014

Male nurses face lots of scrutiny about their career choice. To retain this growing segment of the workforce, challenge your assumptions about male nurses and make sure you're sending the right message.

For years, human resources departments have openly discussed the discrimination and judgment women often face when they step into a traditionally male role, like hospital finance or the C-suite. But what happens when a man takes on a traditionally female role?

That's a reality faced by male nurses—or, as they're colloquially called, murses—on a daily basis.

While most people have grown comfortable with women climbing the corporate ladder, healthcare still has a long way to go when it comes to accepting men who choose a role that is associated with women.

"If you ask kids to draw a nurse, they'll draw a picture of a woman in a skirt with a cap," says Bill Lecher, RN, MS, MBA, NE-BC, president of the American Assembly for Men in Nursing and senior clinical director at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

But in a medical system where cultural competency and diversity are becoming important elements of improved patient outcomes, this has to change. Here are four steps toward creating an environment where nurses of all ethnicities and both genders can flourish.

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3 comments on "How, and Why, to Recruit Male Nurses"


M.V. (9/3/2014 at 8:35 PM)
Hi John, Thanks for sharing your personal experiences with us. My comments were based upon data. You might want to look at the Forbes article that I posted the link to within my previous comments. Anyway, as I previously stated, the profession of Nursing has enough issues without adding a gender war to the list. Hope you agree with that some day. Best of luck to you.

John Schiller (9/2/2014 at 9:48 AM)
@ M.V. You are incorrect and your bias in stating that men get promoted faster is a true sign of the problems within nursing. While there may be a preponderance for promoting men in your facility, I've worked in many hospitals on the eastern seaboard and, while the odd male manager does stick out, the VAST majority of managers, executives, and administrative nurses are women. I also heard those same sentiments in nursing school; that I would be promoted much faster and ahead of my peers. However, this has not played out as so many of my fellow students predicted and I am still "in the trenches". Actually, I am the only male nurse to still be in the profession (out of 5) 15 years after graduation. Specifically, many females feel threatened by males in their workplace (based on your above perception) and run us out of the profession. I have personally witnessed this occur in three separate occasions and havve heard of others; running good men out of their positions simply because several nurses feel threatened by a male in the workplace or (in one occasion) because "this is a unit for us, women". So, then the bullying begins, underhanded complaints to managers, and the male is asked to leave because "it just isn't working out". Whether you are a part of this problem or you are in simple denial, the continuing low numbers of men in nursing has nothing to do with recruiting and everything to do with situations within the workplace.

M.V. (8/29/2014 at 9:31 AM)
While the writer makes a good point that male nurses are in the minority within nursing. I take issue with several of the points made here. First, the overall tone is that male nurses are somehow being targeted for mistreatment by their female colleagues, it even refers to 'female bullying'. Well, the fact is that nurses bully one another period, end of story. This is not a male-female issue it is a NURSING issue. It would be more productive to discuss the reasons why nurses engage in bullying behaviors at all...rather than attempt to split the profession by pitting males and females against one another. Secondly, yes the writer is correct, female nurses tend to ask male nurses to assist with certain physical aspects of the job and it is true that it is not fair to expect them to do that. However, rather than complain about the fact that your female colleagues are being asked to perform beyound their physical capabilities and are coming to you for assistance, maybe you should work together with your female colleagues to find solutions? For example, you could join your female colleagues in soliciting management to address the need for more safe patient handling equipment or assistive personnel. Finally, males within nursing actually enjoy a certain amount of priviledged status than their female counterparts, in that while they make up a small percentage of the profession, they are disproportunately favored for promotion to the top positions. This is a cultural bias favoring men as what a "manager should look like", so men enter with an advantage for career advancement when they enter nursing...just by being men. Forbes recently did an article on this topic...check it out if you do not believe me. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennagoudreau/2012/05/21/a-new-obstacle-for-professional-women-the-glass-escalator/ So in conclusion, we female nurses welcome our male colleagues because they have much to contribute to our profession...that does not mean that the gender-related challenges historically faced by female nurses should now be ignored/ disregarded. We have an opportunity in nursing to work together to push our profession forward in ways that may not have been possible in the past but this will not happen if we add yet another internal squable to our list of challenges [INVALID] gender conflict. My sincere hope is that we take the high-road on this one, for the good of our profession and that of our patients.