Men in nursing

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A male U.S. Navy nurse attends to a child.

Males make up around 10% of the nursing workforce in the UK and USA. Nurses are typically regarded as female and males in nursing can find themselves referred to by the public and patients as 'male nurses' or 'murse' to distinguish them from other nurses.


During plagues that swept through Europe, male nurses were primary caregivers. In the 3rd century, men in the Parabolani created a hospital and provided nursing care.[1] The Codex Theodosianus of 416 (xvi, 2, 42) restricted the enrollment on male nurses in Alexandria to 500.[2]

Reasons for low representation[edit]

There are several reasons suggested for a low uptake of nursing by males, stereotypes of nursing, low pay, nursing job titles such as Sister and Matron and the perception that male nurses will have difficulty in the workplace carrying out their duties [3]

Campaigns to increase representation[edit]

Unlike the campaigns and groups set up to increase and promote women's opportunities within medicine [4][5] and surgery [6] there have been no comparable campaigns to increase the number of males within nursing.

Whilst there have been no campaigns to increase the number of male nurses in the profession, public perception of men working as nurses is changing which is seeing larger numbers of men apply for the role.[7]

Careers of Male Nurses[edit]

Despite there being low numbers of male nurses there is no indication that they suffer in their career and anecdotal evidence suggests that male nurses can be fast tracked.[8]

United Kingdom[edit]

The Society of Registered Male Nurses RCN history merges with the RCN in 1941.

After the second world war, large numbers of male nurses move into the work force as they were demobilised after the war and had gained medical experience join the profession.

In 1951 male nurses joined the main nursing register.

In 2004 the percentage of male nurses was 10.63% this had increased very slightly to 10.69% in 2008.[9]

In 2008 there are 132 male midwives on the RCN nursing register.

United States[edit]

In 2008, of the 3,063,163 licensed registered nurses in the United States only 6.6% of were men.[10] Men also make up only 13% of all new nursing students.[11]

Nursing schools for men were common in the United States until the early 1900, more than half of those offering paid nursing services to the ill and injured were men. Yet by 1930, men constituted fewer than 1% of RNs in the United States.[12] As they found other, more lucrative occupations, they left nursing behind.[13]

The American Assembly For Men in Nursing was founded in 1971. The purpose of AAMN is to provide a framework for nurses as a group to meet, discuss, and influence factors which affect men as nurses.[14]

In Mississippi University for Women v. Hogan, 458 U.S. 718 (1982), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5–4 that Mississippi University for Women's single sex admissions policy for its nursing school violated the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote the landmark opinion.

Male Nurses in popular culture[edit]

Terms used for Male Nurses[edit]

Nurse. Murse.

Notable Men in Nursing[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Menstuff. "Men and Nursing ", MenStuff
  2. ^ Parabolani: from Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "More men than ever work as hospital nurses". Daily Mail. Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  8. ^ Nursing Times Retrieved 21 October 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^
  10. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help);
  11. ^ Chung, Vicki. "Men in Nursing",
  12. ^ Where are the men? Nursing, Jul 2003 (available at
  13. ^ Occupational Segregation and the Devaluation of Women's Work across U.S. Labor Markets, Cohen, Philip N.,Huffman, Matt L.,; Social Forces - Volume 81, Number 3, March 2003, pp. 881-908, The University of North Carolina Press.
  14. ^ American Assembly for Men in Nursing (AAMN),
  15. ^ William Pooley, Guardian Article

External links[edit]