Nursing News

Efforts to Draw Men to Nursing Increase across the Nation

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By Christina Orlovsky, senior staff writer

The number of nurses may be on the rise in the United States, but one population remains highly underrepresented: males. In an effort to increase the number of men interested in the nursing profession, schools, organizations and corporations are devising a variety of unique recruitment methods aimed at demonstrating the benefits of nursing for both genders.

In 2005, statistics from the Heath Resources and Services Administration’s National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses (NSSRN) reported that just 5.5 percent of the nation’s nearly 3 million RNs were male.

Certain states have a higher percentage of males in the profession, including Oklahoma, where 8 percent of the state’s nurses are men. For the past two years, Oklahoma’s efforts to increase that number took the shape of a “Men in Nursing” calendar, designed to depict nursing as “a real career for real men.” Similar calendars have been created by the Mississippi Hospital Association and the Nebraska Hospital Association, which aimed to eliminate stereotypes of the nursing profession and open the eyes of males in the state to the diverse opportunities available to men in nursing 365 days of the year.

In North Carolina, where the percentage of males in nursing is 6.4 percent, efforts are underway to recruit military men into nursing careers once their military duty is fulfilled. In Aug. 2005, the North Carolina Center for Nursing awarded a $10,000 grant to the school of nursing at East Carolina University, in Greenville, North Carolina, a school recognized in 2004 by the American Assembly for Men in Nursing as the best school in the nation for male nursing students. This grant allows the school to partner with area military bases to encourage men with military training and experience in health care to consider nursing as a post-military career, and to persuade military nurses to continue their health care practice in the civilian world. The program will be led by Phil Julian, RN, BSN, MSN, an East Carolina University clinical nursing instructor and former Navy corpsman and Air Force nurse.

Statistics show that while state percentages of males in nursing are low, the United States military boasts a high percentage of male health care providers. Roughly 30 percent of nurses in the military are men, in addition to about 60 percent of the military’s corpsmen and orderlies—military ranks that are targeted as potential civilian heath care candidates. Military nurses also reflect high education rates, with educations at the baccalaureate, masters and doctoral levels, putting them in the valuable position of potential faculty candidates. According to Billy Bevill, RN, MSN, associate director of recruitment and retention for the North Carolina Center for Nursing, the grant project aims to encourage the transition from the military into both civilian health care professional and faculty roles.

While state-by-state efforts are in full swing, in 2005 the American Assembly for Men in Nursing launched a nationwide effort to recruit males into nursing when it began production on a documentary designed to promote the field of nursing to men. The 27-minute program, produced by Davis Gray Productions with funding from Kaiser Permanente, the Johnson and Johnson Campaign for Nursing’s Future, the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists and the Nursing2006 Foundation, will feature interviews with 10 males in nursing careers or education. Career Encounters: Men in Nursing will be made available for broadcast by public television stations and for distribution to high schools, colleges, libraries and career counseling centers.

“We expect that this program will go a long way toward changing some of the stereotyping and misplaced perceptions that can discourage males who might otherwise become professional nurses,” said Jim Raper, RN, DSN, CRNP, JD, AAMN president.

For more information, visit the American Assembly for Men in Nursing Web site.

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