Episode 1: Men in Nursing
So the big question is this: With a looming nursing shortage ahead, how do we recruit more men into the field and overcome the stigma attached to being a male nurse? My name is Phil and you’re listening to Hire Education from RightJobNow.
Mark: Hey, good afternoon. Welcome to Hire Education from RightJobNow, the podcast that seeks to answer all your questions about recruiting and technology in the field of Health Care.
Mark: I’m here with my partner-in-crime Phil. Phil, how are you?
Phil: Hello! I’m great!
Mark: Hey man. Outstanding. So we’ve got our first podcast here.
Mark: That’s pretty exciting.
Phil: Very exciting!
Mark: Absolutely. Phil and I are not even in the same office today. We are using the magic of the Internet…
Phil: That’s right.
Mark: ..to connect and do this podcast. Our topic for today is going to be recruiting men into nursing in the healthcare profession.
We’re going to cover some…a little bit of history about what it’s been like for men over time in healthcare and specifically some ideas about recruiting men into the healthcare profession.
Most professionals roundly agree that men are going to be a critical factor in combating the nursing shortage. So…
Phil: There’s a lot of stigma to overcome with that.
Mark: Yeah, yeah, so, what can folks do to recruit men into the profession? So we’re going to discuss some ideas…a little bit of history of men in nursing and some ideas on how individual facilities and organizations can work to recruit more men into the industry.
Thought we’d start out with the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics released their January jobs report. Healthcare industry, no surprise, grew by 42,000 jobs in January. That’s down from 52,000 that were added in December. Still a record-breaking month for the industry.
Highest growth sector with 22,000 jobs was on the ambulatory services side of things, but hospitals had a gain of 19,000 jobs.
So roughly 11% of the nation’s jobs are connected to the healthcare industry. And the Bureau of Labor and Statistics expects that to grow to 18% by 2026.
Phil: Yeah, I saw that Healthcare overall was up something like 360,000 jobs. You know, that’s up over a quarter million from last year’s numbers.
Mark: Yeah, that’s, it’s amazing.
Phil: That’s huge.
Mark: It’s tremendous. So, in addition to that, US News & World Report came out this week with their 2019 best job study and nearly half of the 100 jobs that are in that list are in the healthcare industry.
And I think it just goes to prove that what we’ve been saying for the past 16, 17 years now that the Health Care profession is certainly a place for opportunity for job growth and job security that continues to grow, everyone knows that.
And so much so that right now there’s a concern because we are facing the shortage of nursing staff and primary care physicians.
The bureau actually is reporting that by 2022…that’s just basically three years away now…we’ll have a shortage of over one million nurses in this country.
And that’s despite an expected growth of the profession by 15% by 2026. And, you know, any of those gains are gonna be offset by the care that’s required by an aging population.
So, a tremendous amount of opportunity in need.
In addition to the hospital setting, there is also tremendous staff shortage in assisted care facilities, nursing homes, retirement homes, etc.
Phil: Yeah, I would imagine it’s the same everywhere.
Mark: Yeah, yeah. So much so that a number of the facilities…there’s recently been a change in the formulation in terms of how retirement homes, nursing homes, assisted living facilities are rated by Medicare and there were a tremendous number of facilities whose ratings were dropped because of the staffing shortages that were in their facilities.
So it’s just having a tremendous impact on patients that we care for, our seniors, and folks in our communities that truly need our help at this point.
Mark: Our main topic today: recruiting men into nursing. You know, it’s kind of interesting the number of men in nursing has kind of, it’s basically tripled over the last 40 years now.
About 12% of the total nursing population are men. And that number is down to 8% for those who are LPNs and in he vocational nursing field. But, you may not know this, men have had an essential role in nursing going back to 250 BC in Egypt.
Phil: Wow. I had no idea.
Mark: Yeah. And men were critical in the nursing profession working in hospitals during the Black Plague…
So, men in nursing is nothing new. They’ve been around in the profession for quite some time. Only back in the day they were doing the whole, you know, using leeches. I’d have a hard time doing that.
But, I tell you, that was certainly a prescribed method of care back in the day. But overall, you know, there’s just a demand for men in the profession because there’s an overall demand for nurses in the first place.
But it seems as though for a very long time now there are certain issues facing men and one of the primary issues facing men in the nursing profession is that of the gender stereotype – that nursing is just a field for women.
Mark: Of course there are also concerns, you know, you read a lot of articles that talk about the fact that it’s also a concern for patients. It’s known that for a lot of female patients, when a male nurse walks in the room, and of course, again, it’s… this is a gender stereotype as well, is that when a man walks in a room that they actually think that he’s a doctor when he’s a nurse.
And oftentimes a female patient, when they find out the man is a nurse, there’s a feeling… it’s uncomfortable for women in that situation. They’re looking for a female nurse and they’re not quite comfortable with the guy has a nurse.
Phil: Well, I have had to say that if I were in the hospital and a male nurse came in to, you know, give me a sponge bath… I may be a little uncomfortable too.
Mark: That is… (laughter) that may be true.
Phil: I’m kidding, of course.
Mark: I don’t know that we can use that, Phil.
Mark: But you know, I can, I can attest to that. When I worked in a hospital setting and I would, I went to a ton of surgeries and whenever I’d go to view a surgical case, of course I’d be in scrubs. And so as I’m walking down the hall into the OR, I would have people that would stop me and say, “Excuse me, doctor.” And of course, I’d, you know, I’d use that old line, “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV.”
So yeah, I think that is a common stereotype that, and completely wrong, but I do see, you know, that there are patient concerns that on some level there’s a greater satisfaction with having a woman as a nurse versus a man.
Some studies have shown that men are often reluctant to engage in activities that are traditionally dominated by women. And nursing is certainly one of those professions.
Mark: You know, social status is important to men. They’re concerned about their status. They want to… their job to translate into how others see them in regards to their masculinity, so, you know, it’s a big deal that historically women have been seen as the primary in the field of nursing. And so men are combating that stereotype.
A perfect example, Phil, remember that movie “Meet the Parents” with Ben Stiller and Robert Di Nero where he was a nurse. You know, he scored well on his MCATS for, you know, going to med school. But he had decided to get into nursing and everybody kind of looked down on him because he was a male nurse.
So, I mean, that’s a perfect example of…that’s actually bad for recruiting. And I mean, Ben Stiller is a funny guy and the movie was funny but nonetheless, I mean, that’s… that’s a bad example of men in nursing.
So a big detriment to men in the nursing profession is that whole gender stereotyping. The idea, again, that women are the primary participants in the nursing profession and that’s just not a real career for men.
When really, I mean, you know, what the industry needs to be doing is eliminating all those misconceptions about men in nursing.
I mean, Phil, think about, you know, in particular, say World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and certainly field medics in combat during the Gulf wars, during World War II, and both of the Europe and in the Pacific they were all corpsmen.
And, I mean, and those guys were carrying a gun, they were getting shot at, and dying caring for others. Take a look at the beginning scene of “Saving Private Ryan.”
Men have been a critical part of nursing and it is a… extremely fascinating profession for men to get into.
But I think, you know, one of the things you have to do early on is… is really start to eliminate those misconceptions about the industry. You’ve got to get in and you’ve gotta start encouraging and educating young men to look at the profession early in their academic life.
But, you know, we need to engage education institutions and engage them with information about the really exciting careers that are in the nursing profession.
You know, careers in, you know, cardiology medicine, emergency medicine, trauma, radiology, anesthesiology, surgery, critical care.
You know, the skills for those jobs require leadership, innovation, and technology knowledge… all those things that attract men and are self-fulfilling in terms of the social status that make men feel important about what they’re doing as a career and how they communicate that to people.
But the other thing we need to do, in terms of marketing campaigns, is to promote the nursing profession for men as an incredible professional job with great career progression opportunities.
Meaning they can, you know, start out in one place and they can move to so many other opportunities. And again, this appeals to the social status that concern that the majority of men in the workforce today.
By promoting these nursing jobs as, you know, it’s a great profession to be in and that there are great growth opportunities for men. I mean, certainly appeals to that need that men have in terms of… it relates to their social status… men that are conscious of their social status.
You know, essentially we have to have some aggressive marketing campaigns and they’re required both in our high schools and colleges.
Young men need to see nursing as a rewarding professional career choice. One that engages them and also translates, you know, shows the jobs and reflects the job opportunity and how it translates how they see themselves in regards to their masculinity.
And a lot of that I think, you know, means that looking at men that are working in the profession… men that are working in your hospitals, your surgery centers, etc., even in fields such as radiology and other areas, that these are strong capable men working beside… alongside women in the profession and that they reflect, you know, it shows, you know, that, I guess it’s kinda like when you do… you see those ads about, you know, the guys driving Ford trucks. What’s wrong with having, you know those male nurse driving a Ford track?
Phil: (laughing) Right…
Mark: You know, I just… again…it’s, I think it’s one of the huge issues that men have faced in this industry for so long and there’s nothing that says that strong gender stereotypes in men can’t effectively communicate into a caring individual in the nursing profession.
Phil: And really just making a difference in somebody’s life.
Mark: Yes! Absolutely. You know, it’s like we mentioned earlier, you think of all the men that have been in combat…field level combat roles, working with troops in the field, you know, starting back, of course, in World War II and the European and Pacific theaters and moving forward to today, it is an incredibly honorable profession with tremendous growth opportunity.
And it’s something that I think that many men that are looking to transition careers, it’s a… just a superb opportunity for them.
Phil: You know, that’s a really great point, Mark. I would’ve never thought to look of the military, but you’re right, there’s a large population of medical staff who are male, just by its nature, and it’s a great resource to fill those roles.
Mark: Absolutely. The military is really a great source of clinical professionals. It’s certainly a great recruiting opportunity.
I would suggest that, as we’ve done for clients in the past, is create either a section of your career website or a website unto itself or pages within your website that focus on opportunities, on recruitment opportunities for military clinical staff and show that you have a focus on recruiting those from the U.S. military.
Certainly if you’re in a region of the country where you’re near military base, where there’s a military hospital, it’s certainly a great opportunity. Those folks are disciplined, they understand the value of hard work, they’re great team members… these are the kind of people that are perfect and they also provide tremendous leadership.
The last thing I’d mention is if you’re putting together a recruitment campaign for men in nursing, I’d look for a strong male role models that you might have working in your nursing floors and use them, I don’t know, you may have a speakers bureau… it’s a great opportunity to send them out into the community to speak to civic groups, high school career days, community colleges, or even your nursing programs at your four year colleges.
Anything you can do two have something that reflects the strength and, you know, the social status of men within the nursing profession to go out into the community and to talk about the opportunities that exist today for men in the nursing profession… growth opportunities… you know, all the things that you can do with a nursing background.
I think it does nothing but help you out in the long haul.
So that’s pretty much it. I think men in nursing… there’re some great opportunities. A lot of guys that I have met in a clinical setting and in the hospitals, I mean, they were… they were great role models for this kind of thing.
I mean, you know, these are guys, you know, that we’re really secure, you know, from their gender perspective… were very caring individuals. I mean, just… and they were great teammates on the floor too.
I mean, let’s be very honest. I mean, physiologically there are things that, you know, in terms… and this is written up in studies too. I mean, there’s article after article that talks about the impact of men have, you know, in nursing units. I mean, certainly assisting with an unruly patient, an abusive patient, certainly female nurses face a lot of that today in hospitals. You know, assistance in helping moving patients, you know, when there’s a transfer order that comes through and…
But like I said, so many of the men that I had met that are in the nursing profession are really great examples of caregivers and unfortunately I’m not sure that hospitals always do what they can do to promote that as a profession.
You know, the idea today is that we should be encouraging anyone to get in the profession and certainly I think that there are a lot today considering the loss of jobs and some traditional areas that men are in, you know, this is a great opportunity, both on an income and career growth standpoint.