The growing demand for male nurses


When you read news reports on the healthcare system every year, it becomes increasingly obvious that, even with some of the best training programs in the world, there is a shortage of nursing staff in Australia. No matter the efforts to fix this issue, it won’t be possible if only half the population is being addressed. What we mean by this is as much as there is a need for more nurses in general, we need more male nurses in the industry. 

Nursing shortages are becoming increasingly widespread, with the key contributing issues being the ageing population, the ageing workforce, the gendered workforce, violence and burnout.  

Although much progress has been made to attract more men into this female-dominated industry, only 11.9% of registered nurses are men. In this article, we’ll look at the common causes of shortages in male nursing staff and why they are so needed in this particular industry.  

Why should there be more male nurses?

Males aren’t just needed in the nursing profession; they are wanted. Here are a few reasons why we should have more male nurses. 

1. Women can’t fill all the nursing roles

The demand for nurses is too great to be filled by just females, and so there is a great need for men to fill the positions. 

2. Some patients prefer male nurses

All patients have their preferences and needs, and in order to give them the best care, they should be catered to. Many have made progress in addressing gender stereotypes, but there are some male patients who are still scared to show weakness in the presence of females. In this case, they may feel more at ease having a male nurse assigned to them. 

3. Male nurses are positive role models for young boys

Children should be able to see anyone enjoying their profession, and when young boys get to see male nurses thriving and loving their job, it helps break down the gender stereotypes that still infiltrate our culture. 

What key issues cause a lack of male nurses?

The world has made a lot of progress in building gender equality, and while women have been the backbone of nursing, one of the reasons why there is a shortage of nurses is because the industry is female-dominated. So, one of the answers to fighting the nursing shortage is to recruit more male nurses, but what are the causes of the lack? 

1. Stereotypes

Nursing is not for the faint of heart; it requires strength, intelligence and grit to deal with the daily demands and long hours. Nurses are the ones carting patients around the hospitals and lifting them up for different tasks, and yet, somehow, it’s still viewed as a “feminine” job because they care for patients. 

Even men involved in more of the “masculine” roles of nursing received mixed responses from people, and most males who do decide to enter nursing are second-guessed as to whether they’re making the right decision. 

2. Low pay

Another issue that deters anyone from joining nursing is the low pay. While nurses in Australia do receive a better income than nurses in other countries, like Canada, they still rely on overtime to make a decent income. 

3. Discrimination

When men first entered the nursing world, there was blatant discrimination against them. Male nurses would not be allowed maternity or health-visiting placements, and those who persisted would have their motives questioned. While there may be less overt discrimination against male nurses today, there is still a covert cultural message that marks men as atypical for pursuing the nursing profession.

What can be done to retain more male nurses?

Encouraging men to join the field of nursing will do wonders to bridge the gap in the shortage of nurses, not just in Australia but worldwide. Here are some recommendations to help with the retention of males in nursing. 

  • Educators and curriculum developers in nursing programs need to enhance and promote a gender-neutral stance in nursing that reduces male nurses from being seen as unique
  • The nursing curriculum should incorporate effective protective strategies for nurse-patient relationships in relation to physical touch
  • A new professional title that is mutually acceptable by both men and women in nursing 
  • Male support groups should be established to aid in a more seamless transition of men into the field of nursing

Take the next step towards your dream career in nursing

Nursing is a challenging and extremely rewarding career, and there are so many possibilities that open up when you decide to step into the nursing profession. Access to quality healthcare that models equality and professionalism, and everyone, regardless of their gender, has a role to play in creating such a space. 

Part of Australia’s nursing shortage issue is the lack of male registered nurses. However, it’s not uncommon as it used to be in the past for men to opt for a career that makes a difference in the lives of patients by treating them with care. For those who have decided to step into the world of nursing, taking a graduate certificate in nursing will provide you with the knowledge and skills to succeed in this profession.

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