Why Men Should Be Nurses
Written By: Lee Nelson
Barbara Pieper’s three sons are all nurses. One works in mental health, and the other two are headed toward becoming nurse anesthetists.
“It’s an amazing career. The millennials are more curious about the profession, and more open,” says Pieper, Associate Dean of the BS & MS Programs in Nursing at Excelsior College in Albany, N.Y.
Pieper is also is director of the Robert E. Kinsinger Institute for Nursing Excellence.
She comes from a line of nurses starting with her mother and sister, then her, and now her sons. All in different fields, but still pursuing the career of caring for patients.
Women To Men Ratio In Nursing
The nursing industry is still dominated by women, about 90 percent depending on the type of nursing. However, according to United States Bureau of Labor, the number of men who work as nurses has tripled since 1970, rising from 2.7 to 9.6 percent.
“Being a nurse is a great way to start with an excellent salary right out of training and college. $40,000-$60,000 or even higher in some locations and some departments,” said Pieper, “who gets right out of college and makes that kind of money?”
Young men in school are catching on to what the women in the industry have discovered. Nursing is a consideration to help people, have secure employment, and possibly rise into management.
According to The Kaiser Family Foundation, there are some states where the number of men in nursing is growing a little closer to the number of female nurses. For example, for every five female nurse in California, there is one male nurse. Nebraska is the only state that has more male nurses than female nurses with approximately three male nurses to one female.
There are male nurses in every nurse specialty from obstetrics to geriatrics to sexual assault examiners. But there seems to be certain specialities which attract a larger number of men.
The U.S. Census Bureau states that men who are nurses more often head toward the higher paying nursing jobs with a little more edge and adrenalin such as a nurse anesthetist, emergency room nurse and flight/transport nurse.
The average annual salary of a nurse anesthetist is $162,000, and data shows 41 percent of those working in that field are men.
“My oldest son had a major in English,” Pieper says, “He went back to be a nurse anesthetist, and loves it. He loves the leadership, the authority and the independence he has with having his own practice. He also gets to work with physicians and families, plus have some highs and some lows - the drama that we all love.”
More Men In The Industry
Pieper believes one of the best ways to attract men to the field is to go into more junior high and high schools to teach kids and counselors about the career for both genders.
“By the time they get into college, many students don’t know what the end game is when they graduate. They need to stir their imagination in high school,” said Pieper, “Most people don’t realize that nursing needs the smartest, brightest and best people.”
Nurses make the first decision whether the patient needs a physician.
“They are the ones that make a preliminary diagnosis if someone is going downhill quickly. They make that call right at the bedside,” Pieper says.
Excelsior College has a partnership with the American Assembly for Men in Nursing (AAMN) to help increase the percentage of men at the bedside. The college’s largest academic program is its associate degree program in nursing with over 16,000 enrolled students.
Being A Male Nurse
Marty Robbins loved attending nursing school in Toronto, Canada. He was in his late 20s when he started.
“I was always a source of curiosity – a male in a female-dominated profession,” he says. “Many times, people thought I was the orderly or the doctor.”
Now, 15 years later, he is seeing the evolution of more men coming into the profession. In fact, he is seeing a big upswing of more men being hired at his hospital.
“Men do drift more toward working in our E.R., ICU or psych departments. You’d be hard pressed to find one in pediatrics. I’d say our ratio is 70 percent female and 30 percent male,” he explains.
There are even times in the emergency department, where he works, that they have more men than women on a particular shift.
“I remember one instance where it was a cultural difference. A girl needed to use a bedpan and asked for a female nurse. I told her I’d have to look around, but all the females were on break. I wasn’t trying to be funny, but I told her to hold it or let me help her,” he says.
Men are finally realizing what a gold mine nursing is. In Toronto, it is one of the highest paying and secure professions to have, Robbins says.
“If you are smart and use shift premiums, work holidays and some overtime, there’s no reason you shouldn’t make $90,000 to $100,000,” he adds.
The Stigma Of Being A Male Nurse
Larry Meneghini knew a linebacker a few years ago who played for St. Xavier University in Chicago. He also was majoring in nursing.
“He was tough as nails. He’d be on the gridiron on Saturday, yet helping an elderly man with care on Sunday,” he says. He now works in a Chicago hospital.
Meneghini is associate professor of nursing at the university. He also heads a chapter of the AAMN.
“I followed in my mom’s footsteps instead of my dad’s since she was a nurse. It was an opportunity for me to take care of people,” he explains.
In his 35 years in nursing, he has definitely seen the stigma and misconceptions of men being nurses fade away.
“Some people out there think that guys who become nurses are doing it because they can’t get into medical school, or they think they are homosexuals. If you truly care about nursing, you’re not going to care about what people think,” he says.
He admits that men who go into nursing do face those obstacles sometimes, but those are going away as new generations come into play and have different outlooks and feelings.
Just like women, men also have emotions, he says. They like to see their patients do well.
“You can’t put a gender on tender loving care,” Meneghini explains. “The good thing about nursing is that I’ve never been out of work. I never worried about where my next paycheck would come from. If I ever lost my job on a Monday, I’d line something up on a Tuesday.”
Lee Nelson of the Chicago area writes for national and regional magazines, websites, and business journals. Her work has recently appeared in Realtor.org, Nurse.org, Yahoo! Homes, ChicagoStyle Weddings, and a bi-weekly blog in Unigo.com.