Men in nursing: smoke and mirrors
The disparity in the number of nurses in the UK who identify as men compared with women is acknowledged within the profession. However, research has focused on identifying that there is a gender imbalance, rather than on why or how it can be resolved. In 2002, the proportion of men working in nursing was 10.2%, with suggestions that increasing the number of male nurses might bring social and economic benefits to the whole nursing workforce (Waters, 2002). Twenty years later, only 10.9% of registered nurses in the UK were male (Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), 2022a). In Scotland, the situation was worse with 9.1% of registrants identifying as men (NMC, 2022b).
A predicted rise in male nurse numbers has not materialised. The situation remains stubbornly in stasis, indicating that campaigns to recruit men have been unsuccessful. Campaigns that increased applications to nursing courses are too new to see whether they will impact on recruitment and retention.
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