Number of male nurses steadily increasing

Hannah Baker

 Starting in a career in a field dominated by women wasn’t something Trevor Potts thought too much on when he decided he wanted to become a nurse.

“I like making people feel better and helping others,” said the senior from Sturgis. “It doesn’t bother me that it’s a field dominated by women.”

An increasing number of men, like Potts, are entering the nursing field. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, three percent of all nurses were men in 1980. Today, that percentage has grown to 6.6 percent, or one in every 15 nurses.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported between 2006 and 2016, registered nurses (RNs) are projected to add the largest number of new jobs among all occupations — 587,000. Although finding a job in the nursing field may not be a challenge for students pursuing a degree in nursing regardless of their sex, Potts and other male nurses could still run into instances where their gender does matter to hospital patients.

Potts said during his clinical training for SDSU a female patient asked that he stay out of the delivery room when she was giving birth. Although this happens, Potts said it’s few and far between and most patients are positive about him being a male and a nurse.

“There are always times when someone says, ‘Oh, another male nurse,’ but it’s usually a positive reaction or more of a surprise than a negative reaction,” he said.

By entering a field dominated by the opposite sex, Potts and other male nurses might be perceived as being at a disadvantage, but according to an article by Joan Evans, “Men in nursing: issues of gender segregation and hidden advantage,” from the Journal of Advanced Nursing, this is not the case.

According to Evans, because the United States is a patriarchal culture, men’s greater status awards them “situational dominance” even when they are the minority and even gives them a special privileged minority status.

“I think being a male will actually be more of an advantage,” said Potts. “Places are always wanting to hire male nurses.”

There is another advantage males see working as a nurse: higher pay. In 2008, the BLS reported female RNs earned a median weekly salary of $1,011, while the median weekly earning for male nurses was $1,168. This means that women made only 86.6 percent of what men made as nurses.

This number might have less to do with whether a nurse is a male or female and more to do with rank. According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, nearly half of their number — 46% — were male during 2008. These positions pay significantly more at about $160,000 to $180,000 per year. Floor nurses, who are mostly women, get paid about $50,000 a year.

Potts will begin as an RN when he enters the workforce, but doesn’t plan to stay there. After two years of critical care training he plans to climb the healthcare ladder and become a CNRA to earn more money, status and respect.

“You definitely see more men in that field. You can make more money, claim a higher status and you just receive more respect from doctors and health professionals overall,” Potts said.