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I was planning on becoming a nurse. Is this a good choice for a man?

This question is not common among college students, but it is important for those considering this field. The demand for nursing is ever increasing and more men are going into the industry now than in previous years. With extremely low unemployment rates for nurses and a burgeoning healthcare industry, many students are already planning a nursing career.  

Working as a registered nurse is a highly rewarding career path. Traditionally, it has been the realm of women with female nurses dominating the profession at almost 90%. Only 3% of registered nurses were men three decades ago and while numbers have risen to around 12% today, they are still low for a field that has seen huge growth.

Male-oriented sectors have lost a lot of jobs in the past two decades. Manufacturing for example has seen a 5-million job decline from an industry that is 70% male dominated. Conversely, education and health services which has a 75% female workforce has seen an additional 9 million jobs added in the same period. A shortage of nurses has resulted in recruitment drives and schools are now actively pursuing higher male enrollment for their nursing programs. There are also a growing number of nursing scholarships, many of which are male only and provided by the American Assembly for Men in Nursing.

Stigma and the perception that nursing is traditionally a woman’s job has kept men out of the field for decades. Things are moving in the right direction now and more men are entering the healthcare and nursing sector. From a pay perspective, men are more likely to be found in higher-paying medical positions, 41% of nurse anesthetists for example are men. This is the highest paid position which can earn on average more than twice as much as all other nursing occupations. Men are also tending to become oncology nurses, another high-paying specialty, reports a cancer care center in Maryland.

Wage growth and promotion are often better in expanding fields. All U.S. occupations combined have an average projected growth rate of around 7% between 2014 and 2024. Registered nurses, and licensed practical and vocational nurses can expect a 16% growth rate in their field for the same period. Healthcare jobs in general are expected to grow by 19% and home health aides can look forward to a 38% job growth. Once in the healthcare field, there is plenty of opportunity to change career paths from nursing to other specialties.

Nursing is one of the few sectors in which there is nearly always a guaranteed job. With more of the workforce retiring earlier, the demand for registered nurses is strong, even in times of economic downturn. According to Mark Prip from MyMedigapPlans, nursing care is often covered by Medicare. As baby boomers become seniors, this will mean guaranteed demand for nursing care because it will be paid by the government.

Culture is a little slower to shift but changes are occurring, just a few years ago men would not even admit they were nurses outside of the hospital. There was the additional factor that many female patients felt uncomfortable with a male nurse.

The Millennial generation sees things different, as they are far more open and flexible and old stigmas attached to male nurses are fading fast. Being in the minority in your field can often work to your advantage, so in answer to your question, your choice appears to be a very good one.

“Panic plays no part in the training of a nurse,” Elizabeth Kenny.