In honor of Father’s Day, we wanted to shine a light on 12% of the nursing population: Male Nurses.
While 12% may seem low, it was much lower in the 1970s (only 2.7%). (1) Thankfully, more and more men are joining the nursing field as the stigma around male nurses is going away. But the history of male nurses is deeper than the last few decades. In actuality, before the negative perceptions arose, nurses were predominately men.
According to David Ross, from the Liverpool John Moores University, the first nursing school started in 250BCE in India and it featured only men. (2) The tradition of male nurses continued throughout history. In the 11th century, there were the Knights Hospitalers who cared for travelers to the holy land and the 16th century even saw a male nurse who would later be sainted. (3) In America, male nurses served during the Civil War and the Spanish-American War during the 19th century. (4)
It’s theorized that perceptions changed with the creation of the Florence Nightingale School and Home for Nurses at Saint Thomas’s Hospital, which only allowed women to train to become nurses. The nursing profession was painted as “women’s work” where men “have no place except where physical strength is needed.” (3)
Davin Healthcare Owner and CEO David Theobald, MS, RN, went into the nursing profession after a nurse helped him through a bad accident (David wrote about his experiences here). David took a few moments to share his thoughts:
Men have a long-standing history of being a part of nursing and continue to support significant contributions to the nursing profession.
As a nurse, I am dedicated on honored to be part of the nursing profession. Every nurse or aspiring nurse is part of something bigger. We must embrace diversity and collaborate on nursing excellence while always supporting self-care and the future of nursing.
The American Association of Men in Nursing’s website is a good resource for men in nursing. I like to be called a nurse and not a male nurse but that’s me. As a nurse leader, my work is to support all cultures and diversity within this caring and wonderful profession.
Thank you to all the male nurses out there who help bring their perspective to the nursing field and we encourage anyone who wants to join the profession to do so. We are stronger with you.