Kelli Leach
Kelli Leach
August 14, 2015 - 5 min read

Male Nursing – Increasing in Numbers as Stigma Subsides

I am married to a murse. Yep, a male nurse. My very own Focker. Jokes aside though, being a male nurse is pretty awesome. My husband and I have talked a lot over the years about whether or not he would go back to school to further his education, but he loves being a nurse and the benefits are awesome. He will very likely retire as a murse and for good reason.

Men on the Rise

According to a report the Census Bureau released in 2013, from 1970 to 2011, the number of male nurses rose from 2.7% to 9.6% for RN’s and from 3.9% to 8.1% for LVN’s. Male nurses, even in the same role, are apparently out-earning their female counterparts by 9%. I personally find that statistic appalling and hard to believe since most hospitals these days pay strictly based on years of experience, but apparently the truth is in the numbers. My suspicion is that males tend to be more willing to negotiate their salary than females, but that is just my speculation.

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Endless Opportunity

Being a male nurse isn’t as faux pas as it once was.  It is no longer considered a female career path or a stepping stone to becoming a doctor. My husband, Skyler works with many other male nurses, and it even seems that many couples are both nurses. There tends to be a pattern that if one spouse is a nurse, then often times the other spouse seems to go back to school to become a nurse too. Heck, I strongly considered it for a long time until I finally accepted that I am just not cut out to be a nurse.

Although nursing is not for me, I can totally understand why more and more couples are opting to work the same career.  Nursing is a great career choice for many reasons: the schedule (three on, four off every week), high pay considering it’s only a two to four year program in school, great benefits, and not to mention it is a very fulfilling career.  Also, a travel nurse duo is dynamite! But, I digress.

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Another draw to becoming a nurse, male or female, is that it is such a varied field. It’s not just labor and delivery or your school nurse that people might think of when they think of nurses. You can specialize in OR, ER, ICU, OB, Telemetry, Medsurg, Dialysis, Home Health; the list is near endless.  From those specialties you can even further specialize like Skyler has as a CVICU (Cardio Vascular Intensive Care Unit) nurse.

There is also always management if you get tired of bedside care. We even have a friend who works from home for an insurance company as an RN. And of course, you can always travel! There are hospitals (large and small, teaching and private), clinics, surgery centers, schools, etc. You can go back to school and become a nurse practitioner, a nurse anesthetist, a physician’s assistant, a doctor, etc. You get the gist.

Unlike many careers where you are locked into one role, as a nurse you have so many different directions you can go in. It is such a varied field with truly endless opportunities.  Also, our country has such a shortage of nurses, you are pretty much guaranteed a job once you pass boards (or at least once you have some experience).

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Scheduling Perks

I touched on this above, but another draw is definitely the scheduling flexibility. For a family, this is a great perk. I would guess this might be one of the many factors that play into the rise of male nurses. If one or both of the partners are nurses, it is so much easier to work around scheduling conflicts.

Nursing schedules can be anywhere from per diem working only a few days a month, part time working 20-30 hours per week, full time working 36-40 hours per week, to full plus overtime working 60-72 hours a week. You can work eight hour shifts, 10’s, 12’s or even 16’s.  There is really no such thing as a “typical schedule” for nurses anymore.

My husband and I prefer a schedule of three 12 hour day shifts so that Skyler can be home four days a week and doesn’t have to recover from being on nights. A friend of ours prefers night shift so that she can work an opposite schedule of her spouse so that somebody is always home with their child. Others we know prefer eight hour shifts because that is what works best for them.  It is so varied which is truly awesome! It ain’t your typical 9-5!

Incredible Benefits

Nursing benefits are typically second to none, especially when you consider that it only takes 2-4 years of post-secondary-education to become a nurse. Pay is pretty good to just plain awesome throughout much of the country and overtime is usually a great possibility because of the nursing shortages.

Healthcare benefits are usually great, especially if you are treated at your hospital. Paid time off can be pretty awesome, often times 3-5+ weeks a year for many nurses just starting out. There are typically great retirement plans and perks to employees with seniority, etc.

All-in-all, nursing benefits are better than most other careers. As families are trying to choose careers that fit their lifestyles and goals, nursing is now an attractive option for both females and males.

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The Funny Thing about Being a Murse

I asked Skyler and several of his friends if there is anything funny that they experience because they are a male nurse. Honestly, being in CVICU, there are several male nurses so it’s not really anything unusual. Now, I would imagine a male nurse in Labor and Delivery would have some funny stories!

The general consensus with my group of guys is that when people/strangers find out that they are nurses they always ask the most awkward questions about whatever might ail them. Keep in mind, this group of guys did what they had to do to pass boards when it comes to female issues and then have spent the rest of their career trying to forget it (haha), so they truly have no idea. If you are recovering from a heart surgery, they are who you want. Or even if you have suffered from some sort of trauma, they’re your guys. When it comes to anything regarding lady stuff, they do their best to not remember that part of school and aren’t going to be helpful with any of that.

Being a Male Nurse Rocks

In general, there aren’t a lot of differences in being a male nurse versus a female nurse. It’s equally awesome for both, and it’s cool that more men are choosing this career path. While discussing this article with my husband tonight he said that today there were actually only two female nurses and five male nurses on his unit – so that should give you some insight in to how things are shifting in the world of healthcare and gender roles! Being a nurse is awesome – and being a male nurse rocks!

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