Nursing has long been a female-dominated field. In the United States, just 10% of nurses are male. In pediatric nursing, that margin is even more dramatic. Of the 25,000+ pediatric nurses in the U.S., fewer than 2% are men.
Men in nursing bring valuable experience and insights into the industry. If you’re considering a career as a male pediatric nurse, or if you are already one of the few proud men in peds, this article is for you.
Over the past 50 years, the percentage of men in nursing has tripled from 2.7% to 9.6%, but the numbers in pediatric nursing remain small. Why?
The New York Times reports, “The stigma against men [in nursing] still runs deep, particularly among older patients and in parts of the country with more traditional gender roles.” In the same article, V.A. hospital student nurse Adam White shares, “This narrative that men can’t provide care in the way that women can is part of that broad cultural narrative that misunderstands what nursing’s about. We need to talk with young people about caring as a gender-neutral idea, but also as something that’s rooted in skills, in expertise.”
Men are needed in pediatric nursing now more than ever before. Many forget that pediatrics includes patients ages 0 to 18. Young boys and teens are often more comfortable with a nurse of their own sex who understands the unique challenges and changes they are going through, someone who they can see as a role model. Some groups of parents, like a single father, for instance, might also be more at ease and connect more easily with a male caregiver. Male nurses provide unique perspectives, insight, and diversity in hospital environments that can help create safer, stronger working environments.
In addition, male nurses can help fill nursing shortages across the U.S. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the RN workforce is projected to grow by 15% between 2016 and 2026. This is during a time when we are expected to see an accelerating rate of RN retirements and a shortage of RNs across the United States. Limited space, budgeting, or faculty at nursing schools continues to exacerbate the current problem, as there are not enough trained and qualified nurses to fill current positions. Many current nurses are feeling the impacts of this national shortage through longer shifts, more patients, and burnout. Moving forward, male nurses will be a critical component of finding a solution to the current nursing shortage.
In a world that’s becoming more cognizant of gender equality, especially in the workplace, both men and women should feel free to follow their passions, especially in pediatrics.