Conclusion

In conclusion, this training curriculum blends numerous studies that have shown that the nursing profession provides an excellent work environment for both men and women. However, there is still room for improvement (Brady & Sherrod, 2003; Dyck, 2009; Kelly et al., 1996; O’Lynn, 2004; Patterson, 2002). It is hard to comprehend sometimes how this can still be an issue in the year 2012 when the United States has made such great strides toward gender equality over the last four decades.

Nursing remains one of the final frontiers for breaking gender barriers. Meadus and Twomey (2007) concluded that unless there is a concentrated effort by all stakeholders (professional associations, nursing unions, schools of nursing) to dispel the myths and stereotypes, the profession will remain underrepresented. Numerous professions that were once gender-segregated have made great strides toward integration in the last 20 years: physicians, dentists, lawyers, flight attendants, teachers, police officers, firefighters, and aviators to name just a few. There is also an outstanding opportunity for the nursing profession in the next decade.

Although the number of men in nursing has increased, the percentage of men in nursing has not increased beyond the 6% mark; and although the number of male faculty members is increasing, there are not enough to adequately socialize men into the profession (O’Lynn, 2004). More men in nursing need to become recruiters and mentors for new men entering the profession. Significant changes are needed to prevent the oncoming nursing shortage and ensure safe and effective healthcare of patients. With men as 50% of the labor force, they need to become a significant pool of nursing applicants to decrease the shortage.

The news is far from all bad. There is evidence that progress toward gender acceptance is being made in the field of nursing. Le-Hinds (2010) identified data showing that a primary reason for men not entering the field of nursing in the 1970s, and earlier, was disapproval from the men’s fathers and stated that this did not show up as a variable in research conducted in the last 20 years. Men in several studies indicated nearly a 100% rate of support from their friends and entire family.

As pointed out by the American Assembly for Men in Nursing, there are a large number of nursing programs that are extremely friendly toward men in nursing at both the student and faculty levels. The same is true of numerous employers including hospitals and outpatient healthcare centers. Undoubtedly, the situation for men in nursing continues to improve. Kelly et al. (1996) suggested that the issue of sexual or gender identity is not an insurmountable obstacle to overcome as nursing can successfully accommodate all males be they heterosexual, homosexual, and psychologically masculine, feminine, or androgynous. The clearest solution for decreasing the gender-based biases and barriers in nursing education begins with a better understanding of the issues through further study. The literature validates that with effort on everyone’s part, the necessary changes are possible.

Based on history, it seems likely that brave, caring men will continue to enter into the field of nursing. It is my hope that future research will add a new dimension to the discussions between the genders in nursing. (The Center for Interdisciplinary Health Workforce Studies offers recent statistics on male RN trends: http://healthworkforcestudies.com/publications-data/data_brief_update_current_trends_of_men_in_nursing.html.) This is critical because in the words of O’Lynn in the book he co-authored with Tranbarger (2007), "It is only after gendered challenges are brought to the discussion table that nursing can make strides" (p. 101).


Resources for Men in Nursing

The number of resources available to men in nursing continues to increase. Three of the most helpful options are listed below.

American Assembly for Men in Nursing (AAMN)

The AAMN is a national organization with local chapters founded in 1971 with the specific aim of increasing the number of men in the profession and to join with all nurses in strengthening and humanizing health care for Americans. Their web page has a wealth of information and resources. The AAMN also sponsors an annual conference. Available online at: http://aamn.org/.

Male Nurse Magazine

The publication is an internet-based magazine that has been on the web since 2002 with the mission to explore such topics as why in this time of job loss have more men not used this opportunity to explore the field of nursing. They also publish articles and assist with surveys and other data-collection endeavors about men in nursing. Available online at: http://www.malenursemagazine.com/.

Books and Articles about Men in Nursing

Books such as Men in Nursing: History, Challenges and Opportunities by Chad E. O’Lynn and Russell E. Tranbarger (Springer Publishing Company, 2006) provide a detailed background on everything covered in this training module as well as many other topics. Specific articles, such as those included in the reference section, can also be helpful in expanding your knowledge and to gain the details behind the information shared in this training module.


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