The feminine white dress and black cap image nurses have held
for many years may need to be erased as the nursing shortage
reaches new heights in America.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently announced nursing
as one of the highest-ranking occupations in job growth.
The report said the number of employed nurses will rise from 2.3
million to 2.9 million by the year 2012, but there will still be
1.1 million jobs for nurses to fill.
Men make up about 5.4 percent of nurses in America, a number
that could be attributed to the fact that nursing has historically
been considered a woman’s profession, said Candace Pruett, the
nurse recruiter at Poudre Valley Hospital.
“History has a lot to do with the nurse stereotype,” Pruett
said. “Before the woman’s rights movements, women were teachers or
nurses or moms, and really had only three career options, and this
stereotyped nursing as a woman’s profession.”
A stereotype that Jerry Lucas, a night supervisor for the
Medical Center for Southern Indiana and publisher of
malenursemagazine.com, is trying to overcome.
“We look at what we see in the movies and what we have seen over
the years: most male nurses are med-school dropouts or gay,” he
said. “When we don’t see (men) out there, it creates a stigma
against men in nursing.”
He said often textbooks and medical conferences will refer to
nurses as women by phrasing sentences with “her job” and “she
By speaking to elementary school students, Poudre Valley
Hospital spreads male nurse awareness, Pruett said.
“By the third grade, most kids have an image of what (they
think) is a good profession and what isn’t,” Pruett said. “We try
to give a more modern image, that there’s not only women out
Pruett has written a book titled, “A Visit with my Uncle Ted,”
intended to educate elementary school students about men in
In the book, a child learns about his uncle’s job and the
benefits of being a male nurse.
Poudre Valley Hospital currently has 18 job openings for nurses,
with a minimum annual salary starting at $44,000.
Still, the number of men attending nursing school at the
University of Northern Colorado and Front Range Community College
reflect the national percentages of men in nursing.
Of the 176 students in the UNC nursing program, nine are men,
and at Front Range 10 of the 172 students are male.
Margaret Andrews, director of the nursing program at UNC, said
the staff encourages the male alumni and students to network with
other men who are interested in the health profession.
Lucas said he was not initially interested in becoming a nurse
but had been a medic while serving in the Army.
“Most male nurses have some sort of military background. There
they experience the things (nurses) do right now and that starts
their interest,” he said.
Craig Luzinski, chief nursing officer for Poudre Valley
Hospital, decided to become a nurse after being hospitalized with
pneumonia as a child.
“I had always been interested in health care and nursing
provides direct patient care,” he said. “It has a lot of
flexibility in the job and has many different units and
environments to go into.”