Men in Nursing: Stigma

Why Is There a Stigma Surrounding the Male Nurse?

Nursing is often considered a female-dominated profession. According to 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics labor force data, women make up approximately 87% of registered nurses and 88% of nurse practitioners in the United States. The male nurse stigma partially comes from the false assumption that women are better suited than men for caretaking roles, according to an article from the New York Times. This stigma manifests itself in a number of ways. While they may be welcomed in the workplace, studies have shown that some male nurses are, in fact, subject to gender expectations exercised by their female counterparts.

The stigma associated with male nurses has, however, become less prominent over time as the demand for more nursing professionals in health care continues to grow. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that about 175,900 openings for registered nurses are projected each year, on average, from 2019 to 2029. An evolving view of male nurse stereotypes is allowing professionals in the field to more widely acknowledge that male nurses are not only competent in the caretaking role but also bring other benefits to health care environments. For example, some male patients feel more comfortable with a male nurse

Male Nurses Statistics

While men are still the minority in nursing, the percentage of male nurses has increased to about 13%, compared to 2% in 1960, according to a 2017 report on men in nursing from the Washington Center for Equitable Growth (PDF, 12 MB). This trend can be seen throughout the scope of nursing roles, from licensed practical nurses (LPN) to nurse practitioners (NP). 

According to 2020 labor force data, male nurses made up the following percentages of the nursing workforce in the United States: 


Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses


Registered nurses


Nurse practitioners

Why Become a Male Nurse?

There is an increasing demand for health care services due to the aging baby boomer population, according to the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook section on nursing. The BLS also notes that new hires are needed to fill the spots of professionals leaving the field as a result of retirement. Hiring more male nurses not only widens the applicant pool to address this demand but also potentially brings more diverse perspectives to nursing.  

There are also individual benefits to being a nurse. In addition to the rewarding feeling of helping care for patients, nursing offers a variety of professional opportunities, including advancing one’s education to work in specialty areas, such as midwifery/women’s health and adult gerontology acute care

For those considering how to become a male nurse, earning potential may be another possible benefit. According to BLS pay data, the median wage for registered nurses and advanced practice registered nurses in 2020 was as follows: 

Registered Nurses


Nurse Anesthetists


Nurse Practitioners


Nurse Midwives


How to Become a Nurse

According to the American Nursing Association, those who are interested in becoming a registered nurse generally take one of three educational paths: 

  • Complete a diploma program for nursing
  • Earn an associate degree in nursing (ADN) 
  • Earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN)

ADN programs typically take two years to complete, while a BSN can take four years to complete. 

Following the completion of a nursing program, individuals must pass the standardized National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX)-RN to become a licensed nurse. According to the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook section on nursing, individuals with a BSN may have better job opportunities than RNs with an ADN. RNs who have earned their associate degree can complete their BSN through RN-to-BSN bridge programs. 

Working nurses may also choose to further their education to earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MS in Nursing) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). Doing so allows one to pursue a role as an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). Advanced nursing degree programs, such as the online MS in Nursing program from Georgetown University, can be completed in about two years. DNP programs typically take three to four years to complete.