The demand for nurses has significantly increased over the past few years and while the profession is mainly represented by females, more and more men have started to join the field as well.

According to a study by the U.S. Census Bureau, male nurses are becoming increasingly more commonplace.

In 1970, only 2.7 percent of nurses were male, compared to 9.6 percent today, meaning that the proportion of male nurses has more than tripled over the past 4 decades. The male proportion of practical and licensed vocational nurses has also increased over the same period, from 3.9 percent to 8.1 percent.

The finding comes from a study of the 2011 American Community Survey which measured the proportion of men in each of the following nursing fields: nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, registered nurse, licensed vocational nurse and licensed practical nurse.

The majority the 3.5 million employed nurses in 2011 were women – close to 3.2 million. However, the number of male nurses is on the rise – close to 330,000 at the last count.

In addition, they analyzed the characteristics of men and women working in these fields, such as age, origin, race, education, earnings, industry, work hours and citizenship.

The author of the report, Liana Christin Landivar, a sociologist in the Census Bureau’s Industry and Occupation Statistics Branch, said:

“The aging of our population has fueled an increasing demand for long-term care and end-of-life services. A predicted shortage has led to recruiting and retraining efforts to increase the pool of nurses. These efforts have included recruiting men into nursing.”

Patient receives chemotherapy
More males are entering the nursing profession.

Male nurses typically earn more than their female co-workers. For every dollar male nurses earned, female nurses earned 91 cents. This difference in earnings is a lot smaller than most across all occupations though, with women earning 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.

Healthcare is among the fastest growing industries and as people are living longer there is an increased demand for long-term care as well as end-of-life services. The unemployment rate among nurses is extremely low due to this increasing demand. Only 0.8 percent of nurse practitioners, 0.8 percent of nurse anesthetists, and 1.8 percent of registered nurses were unemployed in 2011.

Some additional findings of the study, show that in 2011:

  • The majority of employed nurses were registered nurses (78 percent), followed by licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses (19 percent).
  • 41 percent of nurse anesthetists were male – the occupation with the highest male representation.
  • Male nurses earned an average of $60,700 per annum compared to $51,100 per annum among women.

According to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing’s Center, nursing is a profession with an extremely high burnout rate and many nurses report feeling dissatisfied with their jobs. They say that it is imperative that hospital leaders and policy makers improve work environments for nurses, which in turn also improves quality of care for patients.

Written by Joseph Nordqvist