During June, the national designation as Men’s Health Month helps highlight the need for men to advocate for their own health and that of the men in their lives. For Men’s Health Week, which runs June 13 to 19, Minority Nurse turned to an expert in men’s health to explore some of the top health issues and concerns facing men.
What are some of the top health concerns for men today and what are some of the implications if they are not treated properly?
There are many health concerns for men. Many of them have been around for a long period of time, such as heart disease, diabetes, etc. When those aren’t taken care of, there are significant health concerns and possible risks that can occur for men. Another topic that is gaining a lot of attention for men in low testosterone and testosterone replacement therapy. There are so many commercials for products that are supposed to help with low testosterone levels and increasing activity and stamina. Issues with men taking these supplements without needing them can lead to increased cholesterol, increased risk of stroke and heart disease as well as sleep apnea. It can also lead to increased aggression.
What are some of the barriers to addressing men’s health problems? Men often don’t seek health care until things are in advanced stages. Too often, men feel that they are invincible until something brings their health down. Men feel that being sick brings down their invincibility. Men too often don’t know enough about their own health and healthcare, so they don’t advocate enough for themselves.
As the number of male nurses increases, how can their care have a positive impact on men’s health specifically?
I think by increasing the number of men in nursing will allow us to better get men involved in the healthcare system. Men in nursing understand many of the barriers to care-seeking behaviors that make it difficult for men to seek healthcare. We can provide education about specific diseases and their progression to help men better understand their care. Men typically want as much information as they can get so that they can manage their health on their own. By understanding this, men in nursing can help educate these needs to their colleagues.
As a nurse, what do you want patients to know about men’s health and what are some warning signs for them to pay attention to?
I would want men to understand that they have a lot of control of their own health. They need to take ownership of their healthcare. They need to be involved in their own health and healthcare. We can’t leave it up to others to make healthcare decisions for us. Some of the biggest warning signs to look out for regarding their own health are activity levels and how they are able to tolerate activity and if they notice increased hunger and thirst.
What would you like male nursing students or early career nurses to know about this career that would’ve helped you when you were a novice?
The advice that I give my current students is to take advantage of any opportunity that they have. This will allow them to get support and mentorship from areas outside of their organization or unit. I also tell them not to get drawn up into the drama that often occurs on their units. Finally, they need to protect themselves. Too often, men are used to help with lifting and transferring patients. This can put a strain on their bodies. They need to do many things to protect themselves from injury. They also need to learn how to work in areas where they are often the minority. The best thing that they can do is to maintain a professional demeanor at all times.
For more than a century, nursing has been thought of as the domain of women. But that has fluctuated over the last few centuries. Men actually dominated nursing through the mid-19th century. During the Industrial Revolution, men began leaving nursing for factory jobs. Florence Nightingale led the advancement of women in nursing, targeting upper and middle class women for nurse training. In fact, men were not allowed to serve in the Army Nurse Corps during World Wars I and II. Today, as workplaces evolve, more men are entering the profession again amidst a nursing shortage.
About 13% of nurses in the U.S. today are men, compared with 2% in 1960, according to the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. However, in the high-paying specialty of nurse anesthetist, there is an equal number of men and women.
The United States is leading the way in the increase in the number of male nurses. While the U.S. rate of men in nursing was not much higher than in Switzerland and Brazil in 1970, it rose rapidly over the next several decades and far surpassed these countries in addition to Portugal and Puerto Rico.
The rise of men in nursing is due in part to a shift in available jobs, especially as traditionally male-dominated jobs in manufacturing jobs like automakers have been taken over by automation or moved overseas for cheaper labor. A recent study published in the journal Social Science Researchreviewed eight years of Census data. The study found that of men who had worked in male-dominated industries and then became unemployed, 14% decided to enter industries dominated by women, such as nursing. Eighty-four percent of men who didn’t lose jobs moved onto traditionally female jobs. Unemployed men who got jobs in female industries received a pay increase of 3.80% when making the move.
California is expected to have the highest shortage of nurses, and Alaska will have the most job vacancies. Other states that will face shortages of nurses in the next few years include Texas, New Jersey, South Carolina, Georgia, and South Dakota.
One driver of the need for more nurses is the growth of the aging population, who will require more medical care. Job growth is expected in long-term care facilities, especially for the care of stroke and Alzheimer’s patients. The need for nurses treating patients at home or in retirement communities will continue to grow. The rise in chronic conditions such as diabetes and obesity also means more nurses will be needed.
Pay and Training
The median annual wage for registered nurses was $71,730 in 2018, according to the BLS. The lowest 10% earned less than $50,800, and the highest 10% earned more than $106,530. Those working for the government and hospitals earned the most.
But like many other professions, men are outpacing women in pay. Male RNs make an average of $5,000 more per year than their female counterparts, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. This salary gap hasn’t improved since the first year the salary survey was done in 1988. The difference in pay ranges from $7,678 per year for ambulatory care to $3,873 for work in hospitals. The largest gap, $17,290 for nurse anesthetists, may explain why so many men enter that specialty.
The researchers note that increasing transparency in how much employees are paid could help narrow the gap. In addition, part of the pay gap may be due to women taking more time out of the workforce for raising their children. FiscalTiger.com suggests that offering adequate leave to both mothers and fathers after the birth of a child could have a role in making pay more equitable.
The Washington Center for Equitable Growth’s report suggests that the amount of formal training required to become a registered nurse may bring men into nursing from other occupations later in their careers. The minimum training for registered nurses is an Associate Degree in Nursing. Increasingly, employers are demanding more education, however. That includes earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. RNs in the U.S. military must have a BSN, and the Veteran’s Administration, which employs the most RNs in the country, requires a BSN for promotion.
While men are still a minority in nursing, various programs offer support and networking. The American Association for Men in Nursing was founded in 1971 but shuttered in a few years. In 1980 it was reformed and now has thousands of members. It encourages men of all ages to become nurses and supports their professional growth.
Some nursing schools also have groups to support male nursing students. New York University, for example, has Men Entering Nursing (MEN), open to all nursing students at the Rory Meyers College of Nursing to discuss the concerns and perceptions that affect men and what it means to be a male in the field of nursing.
There is a growing demand for more nurses in general and that the demand for male nurses is currently on the rise. Male nurses are increasing their presence at the bedside, hospital, clinic, and nursing home. The American Association for Men in Nursing (AAMN) profiles the progress of its campaign for a 20% increase in the number of male nurses in the workforce by 2020. We all know that the nursing profession would benefit from a more diverse representation of gender, age, and cultures within the workforce.
Male nurses are bringing balance to the profession, which benefits patients as a whole. Having male nurses ensures that male patients are well cared and represented. Sometimes patients prefer a nurse of a certain sex, particularly for procedures like inserting a catheter, serving a bedpan, or administering EKG. Male nurses have skills and care-giving strengths that can make nursing an excellent career for them. Importantly, the benefits of being a male nurse are the same benefits of being a nurse.
If you are male and thinking about becoming a nurse, don’t hesitate to explore the career and most importantly look into yourself to ensure that this is the right career for you. Nursing is a challenging job and one that requires hard work, integrity, and dedication. Nurses can treat every patient regardless of gender, but dealing with human sickness and patients who may be crabby and cranky is simply a fact of life for nurses. As nurse, you are able to help patients and give them a level of comfort and put them at ease. The world of nursing holds many possibilities. There are over 100 different nursing specialties available and there are plenty of ways to advance your career if you are willing to work hard. Since not everyone has what it takes to be a nurse, there are a lot of considerations when it comes to nursing and what your personality needs to be like in order to be a good nurse.
Here are four key questions to ask yourself.
1. How well do you cope with stress and emergency situations?
Nursing jobs can be stressful at times. If you are someone who can work well under pressure and copes well with stress, you will do well as a nurse.
2. Are you easily offended?
Nurses sometimes come in contact with patients who are hostile or unfriendly. Being easily offended can make your nursing job difficult and stressful quickly.
3. Do you consider yourself to never stop learning?
The field of health care is continuously changing, whether it is a new disease or recently discovered new treatment, nurses learn something new every day. Therefore, a good nurse is always ready to learn more.
4. Are you a team player?
Teamwork is essential in nursing to getting the job done right and improving the patient’s health. Nurses, who enjoy their job, work well with other team members.
See Our Champions of Nursing Diversity
Sign up now to get your free digital subscription to Minority Nurse