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Men in Nursing

Initially, the provision of nursing care to the ill people was the role of both men and women. However, as the education associated with nursing practices improved, more emphasis was put on females who started predominating in the field. For many years, men have been considered unfit to work as nurses, which lowered the number of males taking this position. Although internationally females dominate nursing, factors like the shortage of specialists as well as troubled economy are forcing men to join the profession. Globally, health organizations are encouraging, supporting, and welcoming males to pursue nursing. Hospitals and nursing schools are aggressively recruiting men by increasing media attention, marketing campaigns, and social media outreach. Nevertheless, the stereotyping in the field of nursing regarding the role of male nurses is prevalent, which hinders their efforts to participate in the field. This paper will analyze the available research information on men in nursing. The focus will be primarily on the functions performed by male nurses, the challenges they have to face, and the ways they overcome them.

The concepts of female gender, nursing, and caring are strongly synonymous, which makes women prevail in most of the professions that involve providing care. The common notion is that caring and male gender are mutually exclusive. Despite this assumption, the number of men enrolling in the profession of providing healthcare is increasing globally. For instance, in the Republic of China, 44,938 male nurses were registered in the year 2012, which was about 1.8 % of all registered nurses in the country (Zhang, & Liu, 2016). Though nursing care is an interactive process between patients and nurses that aims to improve the conditions of the human health, there is no significant difference between male and female competitiveness in the provision of care services. The desire to care motivates men to join nursing; however, males often consider the process of learning the skills as awkward (Zhang, & Liu, 2016). In their work, Zhang and Liu (2016) found that the expression of caring was different in males and females where male nurses used humor in their practices to build mutual trust between them and their patients. Conversely, female nurses used more sensitivity with their clients. They further found that men faced various challenges that prevented them from performing their full role of giving care. They tend to disassociate themselves from females since they feel stigmatized being in the profession dominated by women. It causes them to prefer night shifts and specialize in areas such as psychiatry, operating rooms, and acute care.

A study by Zamanzadeh et al. (2013b) aimed at exploring the factors that made male nurses in Iran choose nursing and remain in it as a profession of choice. Like in other countries in the world, females dominate the nursing profession in Iran. Factors such as job security and better payments are important, and they motivate men to choose this occupation. The demand for nursing services in the country is high, and to attract more people to join the profession, the level of salary offered to the specialists is increased. Unlike in other occupations, there is greater job security in nursing. Furthermore, the authors found that the desire and passion to care for others was the primary factor that influenced a male nurse’s decision to remain in the field. However, the public perception that nursing is a feminine discipline affects their decision to leave (Zamanzadeh et al., 2013b). Besides, the study found that the nursing profession was appropriate for both females and males since patients in Iran prefer diversified healthcare from both genders.

Another study by Zamanzadeh, Valizadeh, Negarandeh, Monadi, and Azadim (2013a) found that most men joining nursing were older than their female colleagues and married. They come from other occupations and are predominantly from low and middle class. Other than personal motivation, families and friends have a significant role in a person’s choice of career and occupational aspirations (Zamanzadeh et al., 2013a). The challenges that men who are joining nursing face in Iran include role strain and discrimination among others. In this field, males are disheartened from participating in the areas of high-touch, and even those with several years of clinical experience feel difficulty to perform caring procedures that need intimate contact. The expectations of the patients that only female nurses should provide care to them is another challenge that male nurses face (Zamanzadeh et al., 2013a). The patient’s reaction after seeing that the care provider is male is demoralizing as it requires the specialist to convince their client that he is as competent in providing the necessary services as his female colleagues.

Despite the implementation of various changes in the health care industry and gender dynamic in the world, in the U.S., males continue to be a minority in the nursing profession. The occupation emphasizes on emotional engagement, empathy, and helping others —skills and behaviors branded as opposing to the hegemonic concepts of detached, tough, and independent males (Cottingham, 2014). Cottingham (2014) conducted a study to examine the efforts of organizations to mobilize and recruit men to nurse. The study revealed that the health agencies concurrently mobilized both aspects of non-hegemonic and hegemonic masculinities through practices of ideological gendering. Additionally, the study identified three distinct types of mobilization that included full hegemonic co-option, an alternative construction of masculinity, and restricted hegemonic co-option.

From the results of the study by Codier and MacNaughton (2012), which was conducted to find out whether men were emotionally intelligent, it is evident that the percentage of male nurses varies widely throughout the world. In Germany, it is 18 %, in Canada—8 %, in Philippines—25 %, and in the United Kingdom the figure is 10 %. In the last few decades, the percentage of male nurses in the U.S. has increased from 5 % to about 8 %. Furthermore, there is underrepresentation of male nurses in academic institutions. The study revealed that there was no significant difference between the emotional intelligence of female nurses and male nurses. Besides, the factors that affect job satisfaction are the same. It is contrary to the assumption that the emotional abilities of male nurses are inferior to those of female nurses.

Stanley et al. (2016) conducted a study in Western Australia to establish the composition of males in the profession of healthcare providers and find out the insight of males in nursing from the viewpoint of both female and male nurses. The study findings confirmed that the motivating factors of selecting a profession in nursing were comparable in both males and females. The research also included the common misperceptions on this topic: that nursing is not an appropriate occupation for men, that they are less compassionate and caring than women, and that most male nurses are gay. It is evident that adverse stereotypes associated with males in nursing still exist.


Men in the field of nursing experience unique difficulties and challenges both in the clinical and educational settings. They are discriminated and sometimes not accepted within the field. Various factors that range from personal interests to influence of relatives motivate men to choose the occupation that has traditionally been dominated by females. They should confront the challenges they face in their process of learning and providing care services. Since men and women are equally emotionally intelligent, both genders have the capability to offer similar services, and the factors that affect job satisfaction are the same, the public should be educated to embrace gender diversity in all occupations. Furthermore, health organizations should encourage and mobilize more men to join nursing to increase the number of men registered as nurses in the world.


Codier, E., & MacNaughton, N. (2012). Are male nurses emotionally intelligent. Nursing Management, 43(4), 1-4.

Cottingham, M. (2014). Recruiting men, constructing manhood. Gender & Society, 28(1), 133-156.

Stanley, D., Beament, T., Falconer, D., Haigh, M., Saunders, R., & Stanley, K., …, Nielson, S. (2016). The male of the species: a profile of men in nursing. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 72(5), 1155-1168.

Zamanzadeh, V., Azadim, A., Valizadeh, L., Keogh, B., Monadi, M., & Negarandeh, R. (2013a). Choosing and remaining in nursing: Iranian male nurses’ perspectives. Contemporary Nurse, 45(2), 220-227.

Zamanzadeh, V., Valizadeh, L., Negarandeh, R., Monadi, M., & Azadi, A. (2013b). Factors Influencing Men Entering the Nursing Profession, and Understanding the Challenges Faced by Them: Iranian and Developed Countries’ Perspectives. Nursing and Midwifery Studies, 2(2), 49-56.

Zhang, W., & Liu, Y. (2016). Demonstration of caring by males in clinical practice: A literature review. International Journal of Nursing Sciences, 3(3), 323-327.