Nursing is often considered to be a profession dominated by females. There are strong stereotypes that promote this trend, but in recent decades, the stigmas surrounding male nurses are fading away, ushering in a new crop of young men interested in the field. Male nurses have a strong and rich history as well.
Here are some of the most interesting facts about male nurses in the United States and around the world.
They're not so uncommon
The general belief surrounding male nurses is that they are few and far between, with the vast majority of nursing professionals being female. According to CBS News, this may have been more accurate several decades ago. In the 1970s, just 2.7 percent of registered nurses were men.
As of the most recent U.S. Census, CBS News reported that this proportion has grown to nearly 10 percent. That means there are approximately 330,000 male nurses in the country, and that number is growing.
The military is ahead of the curve
While civilian nurses are slowly becoming more heterogeneous and celebrating the fact that one in ten nurses is male, the rate at which men serve as nurses is much higher in the armed forces. Nurse Buff stated that of all U.S. military nurses, roughly one-third are male.
Many male nurses work in one specific field
While the military might dominate the male nursing market, there is another area in medicine that sees disproportionately high rates of nurses that are men. Nurse Buff stated that of all men working as nurses, over 40 percent serve as certified nurse anesthetists. This is one of the fastest growing and highest-paying specialties in nursing.
History is on their side
Although the rate at which men become nurses in the U.S. is growing, it still does not compete with historic numbers. In fact, throughout much of history – up until the 19th century – most nurses were men. Not only are there many renowned male nurses throughout ancient and medieval history, but America too has seen some famous men serve in nursing.
Acclaimed poet and author Walt Whitman was a bedside nurse during the Civil War, and the website BSN to MSN stated that his poem "The Wound-Dresser" is a collection of his memories from this period.
Male nurses still face discrimination
Unfortunately, despite growing parity within the field of nursing between the sexes, male nurses still face challenges based on their gender. According to Nurse Buff, 70 percent of all male nurses find stereotypes and negative stigmas as the biggest challenge in their career.
"Male nurses still face challenges based on their gender."
This presents itself in many ways, from negative treatment from male doctors, to unfair preconceptions about maternity ward care. Even friends and family members can be less than supportive when it comes to male nurses.
In movies such as "Meet the Parents," the idea of a "murse" is openly mocked, a testament to how common the prejudice against men serving as nurses still is.
Fortunately, College America found that not only is the number of male registered nurses higher in the U.S. than it has ever been, but the proportion of men in the industry is going to take another leap forward, as currently 13 percent of all nursing students in the country are men.
The patron saint of nursing is a guy
Despite any modern hesitation or stereotypes about male nurses, Nurse Buff reported that the St. Camillus de Lellios, canonized as a saint in the 18th century, is the founder of the Camillan Order of Healthcare, and has been enshrined as the divine face of nursing. Pope Pius XI declared St. Camillus an official patron saint in 1746.