An interesting article


Hi guys,

I am new to this forum, I am a second year nursing student studying in Canada.

I wanted to get your opinions on the following article:

Changing the Nursing Image to Suit Our Profession

Nursing is a profession that has been constantly fluid since its inception, regardless of the region, people, or situation. Brian Coulton (2009), a reporter for Metro Canada, has written an article that illustrates how the current view of nursing is skewed. He explains how the men are the minority in a feminized profession and that the image of nursing is one of a female. This issue has been present since the beginning of the profession and continues to fuel the stereotype that nursing as a career is strictly for females. However some people feel that there is nothing wrong with the current image of nursing. Global media constantly reinforces the idea that nursing is a gender oriented career. I feel that perpetuation of this image is a danger to nursing. Therefore we as a profession have to change both inwardly and outwardly. For various reasons both the people and the system as a whole are negatively impacted by this misconception. This paper will explore the affects of the current image of nursing and how this image can be altered for the better. This issue is critical to the profession of nursing, since it affects the current influxes of nursing students and the path that the profession will take in the future. It is forecasted that the shortage of nurses in the Canadian health care system will increase. Consequently this issue is tantamount to aiding this shortage, since the amount and type of prospective nurses interconnected to the image of the profession.

The profession of nursing is perceived as female profession. This distorted depiction has a negative impact because it stresses the idea of inequality in the profession. From this general perception nursing is an unattractive profession for males. According to Patricia Tumminia (1981), male students are constantly asked why they would want to do woman's work by friends, family, and patients. It is clear that the masculinity of male nursing students is threatened. There must be a change in the global image to a more gender neutral image to implement an understanding of diversity in nursing. Nursing will become a more appealing career choice for men because negative social and cultural pressures on the male nurses will deteriorate. This change will eventually balance out the male to female ratio of nursing students. The diversity of the population cared for should reflect the diversity of nursing. However, according to the Canadian Institute of Health Information's 2008 trend report almost all RNs (94.0%) in the Canadian workforce were female (2009). Nursing is clearly not a diverse occupation in regards to sex. In order to diversify the profession the image must be appealing to males. According to the National Nursing Research Unit in the United States of America, men applying for diploma courses dropped from about 10,000 in 2003 to 5,000 in 2007 (Dean, 2009). Nursing education programs are not doing enough to support and appeal to male students. As nurses we have to start planting the seeds of understanding and equality through education. According to Paul Watson a school nurse in England said 'We need to educate people at the earliest possible age that men can go into caring professions.' (Royal College of Nursing, 2009). Mr. Watson is illustrating the point that nursing a caring profession is seen as an unacceptable career choice for men even at young age. At every level a change must occur and nurses are responsible to lead that change.

Changing the perception of a feminized image that has been stagnant for over a hundred years is a daunting task. We must address this change within the profession of nursing and in society as a whole, since nursing is interrelated with the community. Within the profession diversity must be stressed in gender and other divisionary groups. A passive method in which we can promote is by simply changing the images of nurses on nursing literature that is circulated among nurses. For example a nursing magazine or health promoting pamphlet may indirectly promote the female image of nursing by displaying women throughout it. However, small changes like a male and female on the cover could show a gender balanced image. We should also hire more men, given that they meet the standards of their practice. It is important to indicate that this recommendation is not seen as preferential treatment but to bring about a more gender balanced workforce. Throughout the last twenty years a few nurses have been enlightening others about this issue through journal articles and other scholarly work. These works should be promoted and support by various nursing organizations to make nurses aware of any negative stereotypes of nursing and to allow further research into any other inequality that may be present in nursing. In regards to how the community views nursing, we must address misconceptions that the media promotes. For example health promotion advertisements should incorporate both male and female nurses. Nursing student should also support this change by educating their peers in other fields and by presenting the modern image of nursing to local pre-secondary and secondary school. This will make the nursing more appealing for youth who may see nursing as a profession for females and feminine men. As a result more men will come into the profession which will balance the image of nursing from a statistical viewpoint.

As a nursing student I believe that it is my duty to try to change the negative stereotype that nursing is a feminine profession. The youth must be informed about the transformation in nursing and how it is not a gender oriented career. Nurses should protest any negative stereotypes that are being portrayed in the media and even in health care facilities. We need to change the image to change the situation, it is a reciprocal relationship. This will increase the amount of nursing students and balance out the proportion of male to female students. In addition, we will be more able to effectively recruit, retain, and support men in nursing field. The health care system should become more gender balanced which will encourage more men into the profession, which will aid with the nursing shortage. Nursing students of today are the leaders of tomorrow. Therefore, it is vital that the nursing students reflect the diversity of the people.


Canadian Institute of Health Information. (2009). Regulated Nurses, Trends of 2004 to 2008.

Retrieved from

Coulton, B. (2009, March 11). Male nursing student aims to shatter gender stereotypes. Metro

Canada, Retrieved from Metro - Male nursing student aims to shatter gender stereotypes

Dean, E. (2009). Nursing needs an urgent image overhaul to attract more men. Nursing Standard,

24(6), 9. Retrieved from CINAHL database.

Royal College of Nursing, (2009). Negative stereotypes prevent men from entering profession.

Nursing Standard, 23(51), 7. Retrieved from CINAHL database.

Tumminia, P. (1981). Teaching Problems and Strategies with Male Nursing Students. Nurse

Educator, 6(5):9-11

nurse2033, MSN, RN

3 Articles; 2,133 Posts

Specializes in ER, ICU.

Good article. One problem I think is that most nursing leaders are women and they are happy with an all woman work force and don't see the benefits men bring to nursing. My patients often comment they like having a male nurse. Too often people's image of caring is of Mother Theresa. Nothing against this amazing woman, but she represents only one paradigm of caring. Popular media is a huge problem because they often portray the stereotype of any job. It's a testament to how far we've come that I never get a funny look when I tell people I'm a nurse. I work in critical care with a fair number of other men, far more than the national average of male nurses. Sometimes there is only one female nurse on shift. I think our best strategy is just to be great at our jobs. Then no one seems to care what sex you are.

laughing weasel

227 Posts

Have to agree with the whole harassment by friends thing. My buddies seemed disappointed that I did not have to wear a dress. I told them that I would be more of a man in a skirt than their dad was in pants and talked smack without letting comments really get to me and there were some pretty good ones that I wish I could remember. As pay and respect grows more men consider this an option as opposed to just a "girlie job".