More men registering to become nurses

Morteza Rabii is a senior nursing student in the BSN program at the  KU School of Nursing. He also works as a nursing associate at KU Hospital. Photo by Kevin Anderson

Morteza Rabii is a senior nursing student in the BSN program at the KU School of Nursing. He also works as a nursing associate at KU Hospital. Photo by Kevin Anderson by Kevin Anderson

When Thad Wilson, associate dean of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Nursing, started nursing school in 1976, he was the only man in the 64-student program.

Then, the nursing field wasn’t exactly welcoming to his gender, Wilson said.

“It was bad,” Wilson said. “I had faculty who told me there should be no men in nursing. The image (that men shouldn’t be nurses) was still rough to overcome.”

Today, the nursing profession is seeing a continued rise in the number of men entering the field.

According to the 2008 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses, only 5.9 percent of nurses registered before 2001 were men; between 2001 and 2008, that number rose to more than 9 percent.

The stigma that nursing is only a woman’s career is decreasing in the field as enrollment numbers in nursing schools rise, said Debbie Ford, associate dean of student affairs at the Kansas University School of Nursing. While the most recent incoming class’s number of men at KU is down — about 5 percent — it’s been fluctuating for the last couple of years at about 12 percent, she said.

Those figures are consistent with other area nursing schools, such as those at Washburn University in Topeka and Baker University in Baldwin City, according to school representatives.

More men are turning to nursing, Ford said, because it’s a growing, in-demand profession featuring competitive salaries.

For Morteza Rabii, a KU nursing student who’ll graduate in May, the pragmatic aspects of a nursing career were secondary to his decision to enter the field. He heard positive things about helping others from his mother, who is a nurse, and when volunteering at Lawrence Memorial Hospital when he was in high school.

“It allows you the time to spend with a patient and heal them,” Rabii said. “It’s one of the more rewarding things someone can do.”

Wilson, who is the local chapter president of the American Association of Men in Nursing, said that while they still have a ways to go, young men are catching on that nursing is a viable and valuable career choice.

Wilson speaks at schools about nursing and said he “still gets the snickers in middle schools” when he presents nursing as a field for both genders. At the high school level, though, male students seem to recognize nursing as an option.

An increase in men in nursing is a positive for the medical field, said Steve Peterson, a 2002 Baker University nursing graduate who now works at Stormont-Vail in Topeka. It diversifies the health care profession and breaks down other gender stereotypes.

“People see that guys care,” said Peterson, who expects the number of men in nursing to increase. “The more guys get involved, it’s a snowball effect.”

Morteza Rabii is a senior nursing student in the BSN program at the  KU School of Nursing. He also works as a nursing associate at KU Hospital. Photo by Kevin Anderson

Morteza Rabii is a senior nursing student in the BSN program at the KU School of Nursing. He also works as a nursing associate at KU Hospital. Photo by Kevin Anderson by Kevin Anderson

Comments

Karrey Britt 2 years, 2 months ago

At the Lawrence Memorial Hospital board meeting this morning, it was asked how many male nurses work there. According to the HR department, there are 348 nurses and 28 of them are male — or 8 percent.

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cabocrazed 2 years, 2 months ago

Just because it's a "growing" doesn't mean it's secure. A lot of my friends who are RNs at a hospital recently (2010) lost their jobs - were laid off. Other RNs had been laid off a couple of years before that. In the majority of cases, they had a lot of years at the hospital and the organization was looking to cut costs. Look at an organization's history before signing on. I really don't see this hospital around in 10 years the way they are going.

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cabocrazed 2 years, 2 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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labmonkey 2 years, 2 months ago

Actually, there is starting to be a glut of nurses. Many getting out of nursing school are having difficulty finding a job... especially white females. The hospital where someone I know is a nurse just finished hiring some nurses, and only one white female was hired (even though this is the biggest demographic who graduates nursing schools by far). This is the one field where being a male works in your favor.

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Roland Gunslinger 2 years, 2 months ago

Nursing school slots are competitive. But it's smart to get into it... if you have your pre-reqs done you can have your RN in 4 semesters. RNs start off over $20 an hour at most hospitals. Plus health care is a growing industry.

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labmonkey 2 years, 2 months ago

There's a reason... nursing is the only profession where you have an advantage in being hired if you are a male... EEOC policies actually work in your favor.

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