Breaking gender stereotypes in the nursing field
Chad O’Lynn has taught nursing at Montana State University and the University of Portland. In 2006 he co-authored the first comprehensive academic book on men in nursing. But his latest, “A Man’s Guide to a Nursing Career,” is intended as a pragmatic introduction for men in the field or those considering it.
Is there still a big demand for nurses?
Yes. Even in a tight job market, we’re facing a looming nursing shortage.
Can nursing be a good second career?
Definitely. In fact, there’s research that suggests that men are more likely to come to nursing as a second career.
In the U.S., what percentage of nurses are men?
Depending on the source, it ranges from about 6.9 to 7.2 percent. It’s one of the most gender-imbalanced fields in the health profession.
Has that number changed over the years?
In 1960 it was 1 percent. In the ’90s it was around 5 percent. So, not much, comparatively.
Is there a perception that most men in nursing are gay?
That’s an unfortunate, damaging stereotype. There’s no evidence to suggest that. Sadly, being gay carries a stigma in our society, so men may reject the idea of a nursing career because of it. My sense is that that perception is less of a problem today than it used to be. In years gone by it was a huge problem, and it was well documented in the literature.
Has there been a push by any major institutions to get more men in nursing?
The short answer is no. Men are not a minority group, so they can’t be given preferential treatment in recruitment programs.