Male Nurses Critical to Diversify, Strengthen Nursing Profession

– Male Nurses Play Key Role in Improving the Quality of Patient Care –

– August 11, 2014 – The word “nurse” has a long and deep cultural association with women. Now as more men enter the profession, American Sentinel University says the addition of more male nurses will benefit the patients they serve, their fellow nurses and the nursing profession, citing a recent report issued by the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

“Men are minorities in the nursing profession and it’s critical that we recruit more men into the nursing ranks to address the greater need for a more diverse nursing workforce,” says Christopher Kowal, DNP, MSN-MOL-Ed, BS, RN, CCRN-CMC-CSC, STTI-Chi Alpha Treasurer and adjunct professor of nursing at American Sentinel University. “It’s important that nursing diversification mirror what is happening in our population. Men provide unique perspectives and skills that are important to the profession and reflect the quality of care delivered.”

Male Nurses, By the Numbers
The proportion of male RNs in the workforce has more than tripled since 1970 when it was only 2.7 percent, to 7.8 percent (2000) and 9.6 percent (2011), according to a special report released by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2013. The report, ‘Men in Nursing Occupations’ found this trend is positive, and demonstrates gender diversity in the profession has expanded in the last 40 years.

“It’s important that we change the perception of male nurses and break gender-related stereotypes that can hold men back from nursing,” says Dr. Kowal. “According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), we are facing a projected shortage of 525,000 replacement nurses, bringing the potential total number of nurses needed due to growth and replacements to 1.05 million by 2022 and male nurses are expected to play an important role in making up that deficit.”

Dr. Kowal says it’s not only a future shortage that the nursing profession must combat.

“We need to deal with a present shortage that continues to exponentially grow, and we also need to cultivate more skilled, loyal, and experienced nurses in order to maintain retention rates,” he adds.

With the Affordable Care Act, an aging nursing population, an obesity epidemic, and more chronic disease, Dr. Kowal believes we could resort to becoming reactive rather than strategically proactive.

Dr. Kowal believes the main barrier from men pursuing a career in nursing is gender-related stereotypes – such as the notion that men are not compassionate enough to make good nurses or are only necessary to perform heavy lifting of patients and medical equipment as well as providing physical restraint. Yet, according to a 2005 study by the American Assembly of Men in Nursing, the top reason given by men for entering the nursing profession is a strong desire to help people.

Another stereotype is that only under-achieving men “settle” for a nursing career, after determining they couldn’t make it in medical school. Similarly, Dr. Kowal notes that the during the last major U.S. economic recession men have been quoted in the national media as “settling upon” or desiring to choose to go to nursing school for lack of employment in their primary job role(s).

He remarks the importance of male preceptors, role models, and mentors in nursing schools and healthcare organizations and says this can also help eliminate barriers facing men in the nursing profession.  

Men Urgently Needed in Nursing

Dr. Kowal says one of the best ways to break these barriers is by transforming nurse education systems referencing the recent IOM report.  “We also need to consider reaching out earlier to eligible stakeholders such as secondary and even primary school students to stimulate their interest in the profession as a lifelong learning experience with reliable employment at a fair wage.”

The report urges leaders in nursing education to partner with community organizations to recruit nurses from all minority groups. This group makes significant contributions to the healthcare system and serve as role models for future generations who may decide to pursue nursing careers.

The demand for nursing services is projected to surge as the population ages and the healthcare reform law takes effect, increasing access to care for tens of millions of people and creating a need for more nurses.

“Nursing advocates are relying on men to join the nursing profession to help curb a projected nursing shortage and play a crucial role in creating true gender inclusion and balance to strengthen the future of the nursing profession to improve the overall quality of care for its diverse patient population,” adds Dr. Kowal.

Nurses interested in advancing their nursing careers can learn more American Sentinel University’s advanced degree programs, including DNP and MSN programs in specialty areas like infection control, case management, executive leadership, and nursing education at 

About American Sentinel University
American Sentinel University delivers the competitive advantages of accredited online degree programs in nursing, informatics, MBA Healthcare, DNP Executive Leadership and DNP Educational Leadership. Its affordable, flexible bachelor’s and master’s nursing degree programs are accredited by the Commission for the Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), of One Dupont Circle, NW Suite 530, Washington, D.C., 20036. The DNP program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) of 3343 Peachtree Road NE, Suite 850, Atlanta, Ga., 30326. The university is accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC), of 1601 18th St., NW, Suite 2, Washington, D.C. 20009. The Accrediting Commission of DETC is listed by the U.S. Department of Education as a nationally recognized accrediting agency and is a recognized member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. For required student consumer information, please visit:

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