The nursing profession is an important field that is not always given the respect it deserves. Nurses in hospitals or health centers are very important partners in patient care and rehabilitation, and without them, there will be a huge gap in the healthcare industry.
With most Western countries seeing their populations age, there is always a shortage of nurses in the hospitals that take care of the citizens when they get sick. While nursing is a decently-paid career where there is a chance to help people, it is not attractive enough to fill out all the positions available. Beyond that, there is a clear lack of men in this profession.
In 2016, the Department of Health reported that while there has been an increase of 0.5 percentage points in the proportion of male to female nurses on the workforce, the ratio is still very low at 10.9%. In short, the profession is still largely female-dominated in Australia.
The interesting thing is, this is not a case of discrimination or a sort of “glass ceiling“ wherein the profession is considered “off-limits“ to the other gender. There is nothing that limits or stops men from becoming nurses. Thus, it is natural to wonder why there are too few male nurses around. Below are some reasons why.
- Cultural Conditioning
Gender equality and feminism are huge themes from the late 20th century to the current one. However, the trend has been more females getting into male-dominated professions than the other way around. When it comes to nursing, the older gender biases still remain. In fact, back in 1970, the ratio of male nurses to females was only 2.7%, as reflective of the traditional picture of female nurses.
This is even before television shows and films have become mainstream, so it is not right to blame the media for this conditioning. The gender roles have been around for far longer and this is a huge reason why changing it is taking a lot of time. In some cases, men studying nursing feel discriminated upon or become victims of stigma.
Studying online might reduce this, but it does not eliminate the problem entirely especially when they start working in the hospital. The only solution is for the general mindset to shift, accepting the fact that nursing is not just a female profession.
- Gender Roles And Peer Pressure
In the hospitals, there is also a hierarchy, with the doctors being the bosses and the nurses the subordinates. While there are more female doctors in the hospitals, it remains a taboo for men to take up the subordinate role of the nurse. These gender roles and the pressure from other men to be the leaders rather than the followers is one of the main reasons why the ratio of male nurses remains very low.
- Personality Interests
Even in childhood, it is more common to see little girls playing with dolls and taking care of them, while the boys may choose the doctor’s kit instead. Nursing, as a profession, requires a lot of care and nurturing the patients, and these traits are perceived to be highly feminine traits.
The problem is, there are also men who are innately caring and compassionate, who would find enjoyment and fulfillment in taking care of others. These are men who decide to enter the profession and they, unfortunately, face stigma for being nurses.
It is time to do away with the idea that only women are caring and suited to a nurturing kind of profession and accept that these traits are not gender-specific. Though men have their different ways to show concern and care, they can still be great at these jobs.
Is A Shift In Mindset The Solution To The Nursing Crisis?
As more baby boomers enter retirement and life expectancies go up, the need for nurses becomes greater. There is certainly enough open positions for men to work as nurses in the hospitals. In some cases, they are even more equipped for some of the more physical aspects of the job, like carrying physically-disabled patients.
While a complete shift is not realistic, the increasing number of male nurses is a positive sign that things are changing. In order to maintain an acceptable level of care in hospitals or healthcare facilities in Australia, the trend should continue and even continue upwards.