Picture a registered nurse (RN) in your head! No doubt she is personable, professional, and detail-oriented – all the qualities you would want for a healthcare professional taking care of you. But can you envision this nurse as a man? Can you overcome your preconceptions of the stereotype female nurse? Shall the twain between men and nursing ever meet?

Becoming a Male Nurse
Even though there is open dialogue challenging gender roles in our modern society, men are still an untapped and neglected source available for filling positions in occupational nursing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities in nursing are growing well above the average through 2012.

Although there are enough positions for both men and women to become trained and ready for action, nursing remains a female-dominated occupation. However, there is a growing shortage of nurses as the demand for healthcare expands faster than the industry can accommodate.

Male Nurses Challenging Preconceptions
With this in mind, you, as a man, would be wise to ignore cultural misconceptions that might obstruct your personal and professional development in nursing. If you’re interested in the healthcare industry, enjoy helping people in need, and want to be paid well for what you do, nursing could be the career you should invest in. You could be missing out on a great opportunity by passing over nursing as a career option.

Nursing as a Career
There are many avenues you can take after becoming a registered nurse (RN). The largest group of nurses works in hospitals; however, you can find opportunities in private offices, nursing care facilities, clinics, private homes, and public health organizations.
Depending on your position, you may be required to be on-call or make trips to a patient’s home, where you may have to be available on very short notice. If you want to work more regular business hours, consider working as an office, occupational, or public health nurse.

Following on the Steps of Successful Male Nurses
While it is true that a male nurse challenges many dated misconceptions relating to the career as one reserved for women, the number of male nurses is steadily increasing. That said, it can be more challenging for men. In a complete turnabout of the discrimination women sometimes have to endure in male-dominated industries, some male nurses profess to having faced mild discriminatory experiences at their places of work and homes. A common feeling among male nurses, especially in the beginning of their careers, is an added pressure to perform as well as female nurses. Some have felt that special note is made of their mistakes or that, as they are men, they are expected to be less caring or nurturing towards their patients. Many prejudices faced by men in nursing come from their peers and family who feel that nursing is ‘a woman’s job’.

Men who have sidestepped those initial challenges, find that the satisfaction and benefits outweigh the prejudices. Daily interactions with patients, autonomy and ownership over the care they provide for patients, visible faith and thanks for their knowledge and help, and the generous and stable income received as a nurse are sufficient rewards for nurses of either gender.

Nursing Qualifications for Entry into the Profession
You can earn a degree in nursing at associate’s, bachelor’s, or diploma level. It is possible to be licensed in more than one state but, periodically, you will have to renew your licenses with each state. It is advisable to have the right license for a particular state in place before you interview for a job in that state. If you enroll in an accelerated Bachelor of Science program (BSN), you may be ready to enter into the nursing profession in as little as 12-18 months. Although, most associate’s, and diploma programs (those offered by particular hospitals), take around two to three years. All accredited programs should qualify you for entry-level nurse positions.

A good healthcare education is vital to your nurse training. Make sure to shop around before enrolling in a program that is right for you. There are also options you can explore if you need to continue working or want to study from home. Distance learning programs and other part-time options are available for many nursing programs.

If you’re a man with ambitions in healthcare, set the RN in you free. Men can be just as good as women in this valuable and rewarding career. Heal the misconceptions while you nurture your own future.


  • U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos083.htm May 18, 2004

About the Author
A freelancer writer, Lena Chou works as a counselor at a non-profit youth agency in San Francisco. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Women’s Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Lena is now looking to enter Teacher’s College of Columbia University to receive her MA. in Social Studies Education in the Fall of 2004.