Nursing as a profession has continuously evolved over the years part of the more recent developments is the spike in the number of male nurses being produced each year.

In general and in healthcare space nursing has been deemed as a woman’s job and that men who take up the nursing profession are likely feminine, but this is not so as it does not take being a specific gender to excel in Nursing.

Florence Nightingale, who was credited as being the one who paved the way for formal Nursing Education and Nursing as a profession entirely, her students tended to be women, while male nurses continued to learn on the job. In 1901 the Army Nurse Corps (ANC) was established to train nurses to care for Soldiers on the battlefield only men could serve as soldiers and the ANC would only admit women into their program this led to a disproportionate number of women who were in the field of nursing at the time.

Male nurses
“The nursing uniform was a source of pride for both male and female nurses. This portrait shows three male nurses in white uniforms. Images of male nurses at this time were rare as the country focused on recruiting women for caring for wounded soldiers during World War I.” Image via: National Library of Medicine.

This stereotype has affected male representation because Nurses are usually perceived to be at the beck and call of doctors and that men shouldn’t be in such positions of servitude, this is a wrong perception because the doctor, the nurse & any other health practitioner are there to serve the patient. The goal of nursing is to help the patient achieve wellness and as long as one is willing to acquire and properly utilize the skills to do this there should be no gender barrier or bias

According to a workforce survey in the US by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing 9.4% of registered nurses (RN) were men in 2020 which was up by 3.6% from 2017 and 2.6% from 2013, The same can be seen in Nigeria where there is an evident increase in the number of male students admitted into Schools with Nursing Programs.

There are certain benefits that the male gender brings to the Nursing which include greater economic position for Nurses, the ability to ensure the safety of personnel and patients in certain conditions most especially relating to psychiatric wards. Also, there have been a number of outstanding mole nurses over the years an example isc(1936-2005) who developed “Akinsanya’s model of bionursing” he was a teacher, administrator and researcher who was very passionate about the nursing profession and a pioneer in the field of bionursing.

Justus Akinsanya

We have to understand that a gender-diverse nursing workforce brings a wider range of perspectives, experiences, and communication styles in bringing care to patients, it also allows individuals who have a passion for problem-solving abilities to help grow Nursing as a profession.

In our society, there is skepticism and resistance from patients and colleagues due to their prejudice or certain beliefs that they hold about gender roles in healthcare, and this can sometimes lead to discrimination or segregation. It is sometimes hard for male nurses to develop a strong professional identity due to the female predominance in the field, they might encounter pressure to conform to certain norms and may feel the need to prove their competence more than female counterparts. There must be creation of an all-gender inclusive and supportive work environment and acceptance of gender diversity with absence of discrimination from colleagues or biased treatment from superiors.

There are countless organizations working towards gender equality at International, National & State levels. A notable mention is the International Council of Nurses (ICN) which has been promoting recognition of nursing as a profession regardless of gender, ICN works towards the elimination of discriminatory practices and ensuring equal opportunities for Nurses of all genders.

On a penultimate note, Nursing Education is also an important factor in bridging the gap to a gender-diverse nursing profession by incorporating curriculums that promote gender equality, provide role models for male nursing students, and making sure male nurses have equal opportunities in clinical placements among others.

Conclusively, Nursing is a profession that demands that anyone who wants to venture into it have an altruistic & caring heart, this should be the standard by which nursing is held, and regardless of whatever gender, class, culture, or race an individual can be from. If they hold these key characteristics and are willing to learn they should be accepted. We have a role as individuals and as singular units of the world to discard the stereotypes that do not contribute to the proper evolution of nursing as a healthcare profession.

READ ALSO: Men in Nursing: What Was It Like During the 1900’s?

Written by
Bamgboye Ayotomiwa
OAU nursing student, A graphics designer and avid seeker of useful knowledge.

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