Breaking the Stigma: Men in Nursing


Did you know that the percentage of male nurses is only 12%, while women make up the remaining 88%? There is a popular misconception that men are not suited to be nurses because female nurses are more caring than males, but this isn’t necessarily true. In fact, male nurses are in demand now more than ever. In this article we’re going to debunk some old myths about men working in the nursing field and tell you all about why it can be a great career!

Myths about Men in Nursing 

In the healthcare industry, men fill the majority of physician and doctoral roles. Because of this there are a number of male nurse stereotypes one of which that men “settle” when they become a nurse because they didn’t have what it takes to become a doctor. This isn’t true! Men pursue a career in nursing with the same reasons anyone else has when choosing a career – to follow their passions and interests. We asked one of our nurses, Salvador, why he went into nursing. “I wanted a career in health care because I developed a passion for science and the many wonders it ventures into. Nursing was the field that really checked all the boxes for me.”  

Oftentimes, patients mistake male nurses for their doctor when they enter the room. This is especially common when a male nurse is accompanied by a female doctor. We asked another one of our nurses, Aaron, how he handles these situations, and he says, “I just tell them, ‘No, my name is Aaron. I am your nurse. She is your doctor. We are both going to take wonderful care of you.’” 

In the history of male nurses there has been the stigma that men aren’t allowed to show their feelings, creating the misconception that men lack empathy and compassion. As a result, people have the belief that women make better nurses than men because of their natural instinct to care for others. When we asked Salvador how this stigma has affected him he said, “I have, more than anything, shocked people in my nursing career that men can also be great caregivers. Like anything in life, learning some of those traits has been a journey and I continue to adapt and learn.” 

Similarly, Aaron assures his patients that stigmas revolving around masculinity are not a part of his practice. “I like to tell my male patients, especially the ones seeking help for behavioral health, that being a man does not make them void of emotions. I try and offer praise for seeking help and let them know that seeking help does not make them less of a man.” 

Why Nursing is a Great Career for Men 

Nursing can be a great career for anyone, but one of the many benefits to becoming a male nurse is to balance representation in the field. People tend to gravitate toward those they have similarities to, so a lot of times you will hear women requesting a female nurse. They want someone who is familiar with their body and having a female there allows them to be as comfortable as possible. 

Well, men want the same thing. When asked about the importance of male nurses, Salvador expressed, “I believe that men in healthcare provide a different perspective overall.” With added perspective, patients might feel more at ease with someone who can relate to them. Oftentimes, if men can request a male nurse, they will, but it’s not promised due to the shortage of male nurses. 

As the years progress, more men are entering the nursing field. During the 1960’s there was a shortage of male nurses, only 2% of all nurses were men. That percentage of male nurses has jumped up to 12% in the last two years, which is a step towards equal representation in nursing.  

Healthcare is always a growing industry with a high demand for nurses, allowing you to have a stable career anywhere you go. Nursing provides a lot of flexibility and choice. With a wide variety of specialties, shifts and pay, you’re bound to find the perfect fit for you! 

Breaking the Stigma 

With the idea that nursing is a woman’s job, some men may be hesitant to enter the field. RN’s Aaron and Salvador both had their hesitations about going into nursing due to it being a female-dominated industry. Aaron says that it took him years to take the first step and apply to nursing school because of this. On the other hand, Salvador says that this belief motivated him even more to become a nurse. “While attending college, it was evident that women ruled the nursing profession, but at the same time, I felt that I thrive on that environment. It ultimately worked out and I stayed motivated to become a Registered Nurse.” 

The best way to overcome the stigma of men in nursing is to ensure male nurses are respected, encourage each other to focus on being a great nurse, and remember why you chose to pursue nursing. If you’re thinking about becoming a nurse, Aaron encourages others to just do it. “Be a part of the progression of the healthcare field.” 

Looking to find the perfect nursing job for you? You can view all of Favorite Healthcare Staffing’s job openings here.