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A Survival Guide for Male Nurses. Really.

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, July 9, 2013

Male nurses face all kinds of prejudices when they enter the workforce. Those preconceived notions and misjudgments are not only harmful to them, but to the nursing profession as a whole.

"There's a real interesting thing about men in nursing," Connie Curran, EdD, RN, FAAN, told me a few weeks ago. "They go to the top."

Research seems to back up her assertion. Data released earlier this year shows that even though men represent less than 10% of the nurse workforce in the United States, they are paid more than their female counterparts.

Full-time female nurses earned 91 cents for every one dollar earned by their full-time male colleagues. For both full-time and part-time nurses, the survey found that men earned an average of $60,700 per year and women earned $51,100.

That's why I was skeptical about the need for the new book Man Up! A Practical Guide for Men in Nursing. A part of me felt a savage sense of satisfaction that nursing is the one, last bastion of female domination. So what if there aren't as many men as women in nursing? So what if men feel like they're outnumbered and less influential at work? Welcome to how many women feel all the time.

But I had a change of heart when I actually started reading the book. Male nurses face all kinds of prejudices, ranging from the idea that they're inherently not as caring as women, to the notion that nursing is a "womanly" discipline, the book says.

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4 comments on "A Survival Guide for Male Nurses. Really."


CWR013 (7/12/2013 at 10:50 AM)
Have been a RN for nearly 30 years and yes there are many hurdles and prejudices male RNs face. As for the reported pay inequity, I would argue males are more likely to negotiate for a higher salary than their female counterparts. There certainly is a female bias faced by their male counterpartsd. For example, I can always tell when females were heavily involved with thing such as orientation, workshops, and the like. There is a lot of "touchy/feely" things that cater more toward a female perspective. I am NOT suggesting this is wrong or inferior in any way. It is simply different. Men and woman relate to one another differently; women relate face to face (talking/sharing feeling) whereas men relate side by side (working/playing together). Additionally, hospitals host events that are more oriented toward females ie; jewelry or shoe sales are examples. When was the last time a hospital hosted a fishing or hunting sale? Just sayin'.....:-)

Christopher Martorella, MSN, RN, NEA-BC (7/10/2013 at 9:58 PM)
When I served as Director of Nursing at Shands at the University of Florida, I did a small study of men in nursing and found very similar results. Male nurses also find themselves in situations where they are asked to disproportionately assist with lifting and turning. Male nurses also are concerned that they receive more difficult assignments at times because of gender. The authors point about the gender language is a good one. Even "nursing" is a female term. The male nurses in my focus groups even suggested that we should search for another descriptor that is not a feminine-laden turn. These issues are not universal and they can certainly be overcome. I encourage all nurses to continue the dialogue on this and other diversity issues in nursing so we can continue to grow and assure that nursing is a viable career choice no matter what walk of life a potential candidate might come from.

Phyllis Kritek, RN, PhD (7/10/2013 at 1:41 PM)
Thanks for shining a light on this issue and for highlighting Christopher Coleman's invaluable resource that might help shift our collective dialog and understanding of all forms of gender bias and the harm they inflict on others.