Nursing, like other health care fields, has been predominately female for quite some time. To increase diversity, some schools are taking the initiative to find ways of attracting more men to attend nursing school and become part of the field. One such school is Chamberlain University in Miramar, Florida. Campus President W. Jason Dunne, DNP, MN, RN, CNE, gave us some insight into what they are doing to specifically get more men on campus.
I understand that you’re making strides to attract more male nurses to your campus. Why is this important?
It’s important to attract male nurses to the Chamberlain University Miramar campus, and to nursing in general. I believe diversity of the nursing workforce is a fundamental element of building a solid foundation of our profession that is reflective of the patients and families that we serve through our nursing care and practice. From my perspective, diversity includes not only attracting more male nurses, but also adding cultural and ethnic difference to our profession.
What are you specifically doing to attract men to the field? What are you doing differently?
Over the last year, Chamberlain University has been working with the American Association of Men in Nursing to build a chapter on the Miramar campus. In recent months, we received approval of our chapter and have been actively planning its launch with recruitment to follow over the next couple months. Having a committee/organization on our campus that advocates and celebrates men in nursing, and diversity in general, will provide a venue where male nursing students can come together from early on in their educational journey and feel supported and mentored as they embark on their careers as registered nurses. As our admission team members meet with prospective students, they discuss the various student committees and organizations that we have on campus. Having a conversation with prospective male students about our Men in Nursing chapter will send a positive message that we embrace and support men entering the nursing profession and are here to provide mentorship through their educational journey and beyond.
Why do you think that men are hesitant to become nurses? What are you doing to counteract these thoughts?
I believe there is still a stigma and stereotype that exists within our society that labels nursing as a woman’s profession. Interestingly, I often hear men in nursing described as male nurses but a female in nursing as a nurse and not female nurse. We need to change our language and how we have a conversation about men as nurses. One of the most powerful things that we can do to counteract this hesitancy is for male nurses to advocate their roles within the profession as well as in our local and national communities. I believe organizations such as the American Association of Men in Nursing can help shift this stereotype and advocate and support a more inclusive view of the nursing profession that is exclusive of gender. In addition, nursing educational institutions have a significant role to play in how we educate the next generation of nurses—we must instill in our new nurses that nurses’ work is not gender specific and encourage and promote the diversity of our profession.
What would you suggest that other colleges/universities do to attract more men to their nursing programs?
One of the most important things that nursing programs can do to attract more men into their nursing programs is to educate their colleagues—including admission advisors, counselors, high school teachers, etc.—about the importance of diversity in the nursing profession. Oftentimes, having colleagues explore their own personal biases about what a nurse is and what a nurse looks like can often be helpful in working through any unintentional bias or stigmas that exist within colleagues who have the all-important roles of supporting a person’s career path into the profession. In general, it is building awareness of the many facets of nursing and the opportunities that exist to support and serve patients and their families.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve encountered while doing this?
Some of the challenges that I have faced personally as well as working with students in the clinical setting relate back to the stereotype and stigmas that people/society hold about men in nursing. For example, I was working with a group of nursing students, and we were scheduled for a clinical experience on a women’s gynecological unit. In my group, there were two male and five female students. Unfortunately, the two male students experienced some prejudice from patients, families, and a select group of nurses on the clinical unit. The widely held belief or theme of the prejudice was that a male nurse should not be taking care of women with gynecological health challenges. Interestingly, all of the gynecologists on the unit were male doctors. One of the most impactful things that you can do is to open the dialogue and have a conversation with the patient, families, and nurses about men in nursing. In this instance, we spoke about the educational experience and training my nursing students had throughout their program, and we spoke about the patients’ hesitations with having a male nurse care for them. In the end, the male nursing students provided care and had developed an excellent rapport with the patients and the families. This was a positive ending, but it took having conversations one person/patient at a time.
What are the greatest rewards?
The greatest reward is that our nursing profession is elevated because our community of nurses reflects the diversity of our local and national communities that they serve.