Crushing Male Nurses Stigmas and Stereotypes

GettyImages-1303868827Men become Nurses for the same reason women do, to take care of people. And even though Male Nurses are becoming more common, they still face constant stereotyping on the job.

In order to provide optimum care and reduce health disparities, our healthcare professionals should be as diverse as the patient population they serve. This means Men must become equally represented in the Nursing field.

Increasing the number of Men in Nursing is seen as difficult because of social stigmas and stereotypes. Some common stereotypes that must be crushed are:

Women's Work

Nursing is viewed as a female dominated profession, but that is changing. Back in the 1960's Men made up about 2% of Nurses in the United States. In 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that number is closer to 13%. 

People tend to associate caregiving and nurturing with women's roles and simply because of their gender, Men are believed to be lacking these things and can't be a good Nurse. This of course isn't true. 

This misconception can dissuade skilled and caring men from entering the field, preventing them from truly helping people.

“In my neighborhood, especially my old friends, they always thought that being a Nurse was a job for females,” said Geovany Ruiz, who plans to work as an Oncology Nurse. “So, I put off being a Nurse for a long time. But when it comes down to doing the job, it doesn’t matter if you’re male or female. We can both do the job.”

Sexual Orientation

Other stereotypes that branch from the field being female dominated is Men's sexual orientation, including the belief that male Nurses are Gay. Or the opposite belief that Men join the profession with a higher female to male ratio with the idea that they have a better chance to achieve relationships.

"It's important to note this stereotype is often fueled by a patient's own insecurities and fears. Don't take it personally; keep calm and be patient with them. Again, educating patients on the evolving role of Nursing and how it's not a gender-specific role can help combat this stereotype," advises George Zangaro, RN, FAAN, Associate Dean at Walden University School of Nursing.

Doctor or Failed Doctor

Some people see a Man in scrubs or with a stethoscope and assume he is a Doctor. Other people assume that when a Male Nurse isn't a Doctor it's because he failed to become one. This harmful stereotype is rooted in the belief that Nurses are inferior to Physicians and that Nurses are Women and Doctors are Men.

Television and movies have a strong influence on society’s perception of Men and Women in healthcare.

Mark Gustin, RN, at Brandon Regional Hospital said, “The worst thing for Men in Nursing was 'Meet the Parents' because it emphasized the social stigma that Women are Nurses and Men are Doctors, Directors, and CEOs.”

A great way to combat these stereotypes is by educating patients that Nursing is not gender-specific and that Women are also entering a number of typically male-dominated fields.

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