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Research Report: Recruitment of Male Nursing Students and Staff

Research Report: Recruitment of Male Nursing and Staff


There is a disparity of male nurses in the overall nursing profession, beginning with a paucity of male nursing students. The issue of why this is the case is the focus of this report. The objectives of this research report are to expand on the knowledge base of the lack of male nursing students and male nurse staff. Recommendations are made on how to influence males to enter the nursing field, beginning at the student level into retention at the professional level.

Male Nursing Student

1. Introduction

The following research report aims to investigate the issue of the lack of male nurses in the nursing profession. The problem revolves around a lack of male nursing students, thus leading to a disparity in the gender ratio of male to female nurses at the professional nursing level. This report begins with a literature review of the problem, followed by a succinct summary of the findings. Recommendations to improve the recruitment levels of male nursing students and retention of male nurses at the professional level are provided. A conclusion ties together the salient points of the report for issue clarity.

2. Purpose

The purpose of this research report is to provide insight into the reason why there is a low ratio of male to female nursing students and professional nurses, with the ultimate goal to recommend solutions to have a more balanced representation of male to female nursing students and nurses.

3. Literature Review

3.1 History

In human development theory, there exists a perception of the female as the nurturer and caregiver of the family, with the male figure being one of provider and protector (Wolfenden, 2011). This perception has multiple impacts in the modern career world where gender roles tend to permeate discrete professions, such as with nursing. Historically, the field of nursing has been largely the role of the female gender. This has been evidenced by Christian traditions of Sisters (nuns) opening up their nunneries to care for the sick and injured (Ehrenreich, 2012). Nursing truly began to form as an organized profession with modern medical connotations following the period of Reformation, post 16th century. While there are many accounts of nursing existing as a field of study and care to late Roman Empire times, the period of the Reformation saw the pull of nursing away from formalized religious institutions and more into the secular field. The 18th century bore witness to what is now considered the modern field of nursing, with such leaders as Dorothea Dix, Florence Nightingale, and Clara Barton (first president of the Red Cross) (Ehrenreich, 2012). The perception of women as caring for those unable to care for themselves outside of the realm of direct physician care has roots in the fundamental human role of females as those that bear children and care for their needs. The injured and sick were an extension of the vulnerability associated with being helpless, something a mother would do. Females came to dominate the field of nursing, thus eventually leading to a ratio imbalance in the number of male nurses in the field (Wolfenden, 2011).

3.2 Evidence

Anthony (2004) reported on the issue of stereotyping of men as non-nurturing as contributing to a gender bias among nurse educators in bringing males into the profession. This bias was reported by Stott (2004) as leading to high attrition rates of male nursing students, with a focused problem identified as male nursing students being isolated by nurse educators in the academic and clinical setting. In a 2011 study, Meadus and Twomey conducted a qualitative examination of 27 male nursing students. In this study, male nursing students reported they felt pressure coming from their educators that nursing was not a suitable career choice for men.

The following chart illustrates the gap in enrollment and graduation of nurses by gender:

Figure 1: Gender Divide Among Student Nurses

(CTE, 2012)

However, other studies suggest that male nurses were fairly represented in the nursing profession, particularly in positions of professional nurse leadership. McMurray (2011) noted that while there was a perceived discrimination against male nursing students and male nurses, literature on the issue revealed that male nurses were fairly represented in the workplace, often given preferential treatment, and furthermore were well-integrated into their professional work environment. This finding was supported by Westphal (2012), who reported that male nurses, particularly those in leadership positions held disproportionately higher salaries than their female counterparts.

The suggestion by the reported research is that there is an initial roadblock for males entering the field of nursing study and the nursing profession due to gender and stereotype bias, though this may be mitigated later in life due to preferential treatment of males in the nursing workplace and higher salaries afforded to male nurse leaders over female nurse leaders in similar positions.

4. Recommendations

Based on these findings, it makes sense for nursing schools to make adjustments in their recruitment process and their educational practices. Recruitment may be supported first by expanding the knowledge base of nurse educators about the impact of stereotyping against males wishing to enter the field of nursing study (O'Lynn, 2004). Further applications within the educational setting may be built to integrate males in the nursing field by adopting a gender-neutral approach in the academic setting (Keogh & O'Lynn, 2007). Awareness of the stereotype issue can help in the recruitment of males into the field, and in the retention of male students throughout the course of study and beyond into clinical practice.

Regarding the findings on salary and position disparities with a favored bias toward male nurses in positions of leadership, nursing schools may help bridge the gender gap in higher levels of profession by providing an intensive leadership training curriculum to help counter later career ceilings that may be encountered by female nurses in their pursuit of their career goals. Providing an intensive set of instructional opportunities for male and female nursing students in nursing leadership helps to both raise the interest of male students and raise the awareness of leadership opportunities among female students, thus leading to an overall net benefit for all nursing students and the professional field of nursing (Westphal, 2012).

5. Conclusion

This report has examined the issue of gender ration disparity in the field of nursing both at the academic level and in the professional field. Gender theory and human development has created a bias in the field of nursing toward females as being more suitable for the role of nurse over males. Male nursing students reported a bias within the academic track as being one of isolationism and pressure against males as being suitable in the role of nurse. Further research revealed that once entering the profession, males held a preferential bias in the workplace, primarily in leadership positions with higher salaries than their female counterparts. Recommendations for enhancing recruitment and retention of male nursing students and male nurses are to increase awareness by educators on the effect of gender stereotyping against males, create an academic atmosphere based on the profession and not the gender of the nurse, and to provide equal an intensive opportunities in nursing leadership for both male and female students. The ability of nursing schools and teaching hospitals to enhance the field of nursing by increasing diversity in gender may be supported by providing an atmosphere of learning. This may be accomplished with forethought into the development of the curriculum to take into account the issue of gender in both stereotyping and in opportunities for students.


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