Just Call Us Nurses: Men in Nursing

Laura A. Stokowski, RN, MS


August 16, 2012

In This Article

Calling All Men

William Lecher, President of the American Assembly of Men in Nursing (AAMN), hopes to attract more men into nursing and is working to bring the right message to men.

"Even small children don't believe that men can be nurses," says Lecher, when explaining why so few men choose nursing as a career, especially right out of high school. "Men tend to decide on something more socially acceptable the first time around. Imagine saying to your parents, your football coach, and your entire squad, 'I'm going to be a nurse.' It isn't easy. They fear being ridiculed." This difficulty, according to Lecher, explains why so many men in nursing are "second-degree men." They try what are perceived to be more socially acceptable careers for men first, and find their way into nursing when those careers are unsatisfactory or unsuccessful.

"First and foremost," says Lecher, "our goal is to increase the recruitment and retention of men in nursing." To this end, the AAMN hast launched a new marketing campaign with a more contemporary logo and the tagline "Advancing Men in Nursing." New posters designed for this campaign aim to boost the attractiveness of the image of men in nursing by illustrating concepts of brotherhood, belonging, men helping men, and leading the way. One of the posters shows a student nurse "reverse mentoring" another nurse with technology. AAMN hopes that these contemporary images of professional, compassionate, and competent nurses will chip away at stereotypes about men in nursing (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Posters for the American Assembly of Men in Nursing (AAMN) campaign to increase recruitment and retention of men in nursing. Courtesy of AAMN.

AAMN is also partnering with schools and colleges of nursing to increase the enrollment and retention of male students, and with hospitals and health systems to increase employment and retention of men in the workplace. The cornerstone of the approach is gender diversity and inclusion in nursing education and the nursing workforce.

Many authors suggest that to recruit more men into nursing, the profession needs to become gender-neutral,[14] a suggestion that resembles the "Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?" question. Can nursing become more gender-neutral without more equitable representation of both sexes? Taking the word "she" out of nursing textbooks isn't going to be enough, and doing away with the label "nurse" probably won't happen. However, when larger numbers of men overcome their hesitation to pursue a nursing career and are seen practicing in all areas of nursing, it is possible that society will be more accepting of the idea of men as nurses.


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