More Students Man Up for a Career in Nursing

More Students Man Up for a Career in Nursing

The health care workforce continues to grow and change, and the nursing profession has been no exception.

Written by Beth Phillips

In the School of Nursing, male enrollment by academic year has risen from 159 in 2007 to more than 300 in 2012.

In the School of Nursing, male enrollment by academic year has risen from 159 in 2007 to more than 300 in 2012.

The days of looking over at the nurse’s station at your local hospital and seeing a cadre of women wearing white starchy caps is a thing of the past.

The face of nursing is changing as more and more men continue to choose health care careers outside of the traditionally male-dominated fields of medicine and surgery.

“We’re not there to change nursing,” said Fausto Saa, a former combat medic for the U.S. Army and graduate of the School of Nursing’s RN to BSN program in 2010. “When I think of nursing I always think of my aunts, and I don’t want to change that. If anything, [men] just bring equality to the field. But do we do anything different than females? No. When you see a female nurse, you know they’re going to be nurturing. When you see a man, people tell me it’s a little different, but compassion is compassion male or female.”

Breaking Stereotypes

According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, three percent of all nurses were men in 1980. By 2012, that percentage had grown to 6.6 percent, or one in every 15 nurses. In the School of Nursing, male enrollment by academic year has risen from 159 in 2007 to more than 300 in 2012.

“There are a lot more men than when I started,” said School of Nursing Dean Michael L. Evans, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN, who began is nursing career in the 1970s. “In my graduating class there were 73 graduates, and of that group, about six of us were guys.”

Evans said he believes the shift has been caused, in part, by social changes around gender equality.

“If you stand back and look, a lot of the professions that used to be 95 percent men became 50/50 really quickly – law, medicine – that happened a lot faster than men in nursing,” Evans said. “I think the reason for that is that it was a whole lot more desirable for women to aspire to a traditionally male profession than it was for men to aspire to a traditionally female profession. But those barriers are really coming down quickly.”

Garry Olney, BSN, MBA, DNP, chief operating officer at Austin Regional Clinic, said other factors that may attract males to nursing are the profession’s push toward using advanced education, familiarity with technology, complexity and leadership skills to help patients establish and maintain optimal wellness.

Evans hopes to one day see a healthy mix of men and women in nursing student bodies across the country.

Evans hopes to one day see a healthy mix of men and women in nursing student bodies across the country.

“I remember the strange looks I used to get when I told people what I did as a job, or what I was studying,” Olney said, “but I feel that currently, men have a growing presence in the nursing field, and today there is increasing normalcy to the phrase ‘male nurse’.”

Unlimited Potential

James Voiland, a student in the School of Nursing’s DNP program, said he likes the versatility of the nursing profession.

“I’ve really found you can do anything you want to do within the microcosm of nursing,” said Voiland, chief operations officer for Amerigroup in El Paso.

Since Voiland began his health care career as a nursing assistant at the University of Michigan Hospital, graduating with his nursing degree from the University of Michigan in 1995, he has worked in a variety of nursing roles including serving as a paramedic, a flight nurse and an emergency room charge nurse for the U.S. Army.

“I never thought I would do administration, but what I do like about it is that I get to bring the clinical perspective side of it,” Voiland said. “I think nursing is beginning to branch out into the higher level administrative offices, and I think that has a good effect on clinical operations.”

In fact, when he was 18 or 19 years old, Voiland never saw himself as a nurse at all.

“I wanted to be a doctor,” Voiland said. “In 1991, there weren’t a lot of male nurses, and … I didn’t think about [nursing].”

“I applied for a scholarship with the Marines for pre-med program, but my 3.3 GPA didn’t quite get me there,” Voiland said. “As I was leaving the recruiter’s office, a female major asked me if she could talk to me about a nursing scholarship. I told her thanks, but no thanks.”

After a conversation with his mother, a nurse, Voiland changed his mind.

“I went back and took the scholarship,” he said. “When I got into the program I began to really, really like it, and I never really looked back.”

Room to Grow

Saa, on the other hand, knew when he got out of the military in 1992 that he wanted to be a nurse. He has worked as a nurse at Christus Santa Rosa Hospital in San Antonio for the last five years.

“The recruiters mentioned that nursing was an up and coming field for men,” Saa said. “A lot of people didn’t stop at the booth, but I did. I recommend [nursing] to anybody that is looking to health care – I recommend it to my nephews, I recommend it to my friends – they’ve been able to succeed and provide for their families.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Projections 2010-2020 released in February 2012, the registered nursing workforce is the top occupation in terms of job growth through 2020. It is expected that the number of employed nurses will grow from 2.74 million in 2010 to 3.45 million in 2020, an increase of 712,000 or 26 percent.

In the future, Evans believes the nursing workforce probably won’t be predominantly male, but at least in nursing education, the student body will be a healthy mix of women and men at nursing schools throughout the country.

“It needs to be about 50/50 and I think we’re about 10 years away from that. Now, it’s going to take decades to get to 50/50 in the workforce, but in terms of what schools have as students, I think it’s going to be 50/50 soon. There are schools who are already at 30/35 percent, and we hope to be one of those.”


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School of Nursing
School of Nursing

The School of Nursing began in 1979 with the development of the first nationally accredited Continuing Nursing Education Program in Texas.

With campuses in Lubbock, Amarillo, Abilene and the Permian Basin, the school offers a variety of programs:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • RN to BSN
  • Second Degree Web-based BSN
  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse Midwifery
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice

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Beginning in 1969 as Texas Tech University School of Medicine, TTUHSC now is a six-school university with campuses in Abilene, Amarillo, Dallas/Fort Worth, El Paso, Lubbock, Midland and Odessa.

TTUHSC has trained more than 20,000 health care professionals, and meets the health care needs of more than 2.5 million people in the 108 counties including those in the Texas Panhandle and eastern New Mexico.

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