There has been a growing number of men in the nursing profession over the past few decades. A 2019 survey of 180 male nurses found the most common reasons for their career choices included finding meaning and joy at work. Meaningful careers and a more welcoming environment have drawn men to the profession.
The strong demand for nurse practitioners makes the nursing profession attractive to caring professionals. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 46% growth in NP jobs by 2031. There are abundant career opportunities for men in nursing as perceptions of the field move away from traditional gender stereotypes.
The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) determined that there were 219,125 female nurse practitioners and 26,278 male nurse practitioners in 2022. This trend is more pronounced than the 2.1 million female registered nurses and 500,000 male nurses found by the 2019 American Community Survey. Male nurse practitioners are in high demand because of these disparities, making it an attractive career path for registered nurses.
Day-to-Day Responsibilities for Male Nurse Practitioners
Nurse practitioners are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) who provide primary and specialty care to patients of all ages. They are trained for patient evaluation, diagnosis and treatment planning through graduate education and clinical placements. The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) lists the job responsibilities for NPs including:
- Interpreting diagnostic tests including radiology reports and blood panels
- Prescribing medications and treatments
- Providing culturally competent counseling
- Teaching patients of all ages about diet, exercise and disease prevention
Patients come into contact with nurse practitioners in a variety of clinical environments. An AANP survey found that 24.2% of respondents worked in private practice as solo practitioners or as a member of a medical group. Respondents were distributed across the following work settings:
- Hospital outpatient clinics (14.5%)
- Inpatient hospital units (12.1%)
- Community health centers (8.1%)
- Urgent care facilities (4.3%)
- Emergency rooms (3.1%)
Gender Trends in the Nursing Profession
The aforementioned job responsibilities and work settings are shared among female and male nurse practitioners. A natural follow-up to this information is, “Why are there so many more women than men in nursing roles?” After all, male care providers have helped patients for centuries.
There wasn’t a professionalized nursing workforce until the mid-19th century. Medical work was dominated by men due to the prevailing social values of the time. Florence Nightingale is credited with professionalizing the nursing field following her battlefield treatment experiences during the Crimean War.
Nightingale relied on her knowledge of math and science to reduce the deaths of British soldiers due to infectious diseases. She later established what is believed to be the world’s first nursing school in 1860, thus formalizing education based on best practices learned in the conflict including the importance of observation:
“The most important practical lesson that can be given to nurses is to teach them to observe-how to observe- what symptoms indicate improvement what the reverse- which are of importance-which are of none- which are the evidence of neglect- and what kind of neglect.”
Higher standards for practice created pathways for employment by women at a time when career opportunities were limited. Nurse education coincided with the professionalization of physician training, a field dominated by college-educated men. This divide continued into the mid-20th century as states and nursing schools discouraged men from enrolling in nursing schools.
Growing Share of Men in Nursing
- 1990: 5.7%
- 2006: 8.9%
- 2019: 11.5%
A long-standing stigma against men working in the field diminished with the nursing profession’s increasing profile. There was a perception of male nurses and nurse practitioners as intruding on a female-centered profession or not pursuing more prestigious careers as physicians. Dr. Ernest J. Grant - the president of the American Nurses Association - confirmed a more welcoming environment from the start in the profession:
“When I first began my nursing career in the 1970s, male nurses were often mistaken as either orderlies or physicians…I can attest to the fact that the nursing profession is changing both in terms of acceptance and assimilation of nurses who are men.”
Why Should Men Consider Nurse Practitioner Careers?
Experienced male nurses can add Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degrees to fill the nation’s shortage of primary care providers. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) estimates a shortage of up to 124,000 physicians by 2034. Men in nursing can meet the needs of underserved communities and an aging patient population.
Relating to Male Patients
A 2021 study found that the average life expectancy for an American male was 75.1 years, while female life expectancy was 80.5 years. Researchers identified significant declines in life expectancy among black and Hispanic males due to health inequities. Male nurse practitioners can speak about sensitive or uncomfortable topics with male patients on the path to better health outcomes.
Pursuing Private Practice
There is an increasingly favorable environment for nurse practitioners who want to establish their own practices. AANP identified full-practice authority - or practice without physician supervision or collaboration- in 26 states, the District of Columbia and two territories. Male nurses who pursue additional education and licensing gain greater autonomy over patient care.
Improved Salary Outlook
Nurses enter the profession to heal the sick and help their communities. There is also a strong financial incentive for male nurses to move into APRN roles. The BLS found a median salary of $120,680 for nurse practitioners in 2021 compared to $77,600 for registered nurses.
Training for Nurse Practitioner Roles at Carson-Newman University
Men in nursing may want increased autonomy and salaries once they gain professional experience. Carson-Newman’s MSN-FNP program prepares registered nurses for careers as Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs). This innovative degree features 100% online courses and free clinical placement services. Carson-Newman also offers an FNP certificate program for nuses who already hold an MSN degree.
The program’s faculty members are current nurse practitioners who impart knowledge and first-hand experiences. The MSN-FNP prepares experienced nurses for national certification exams required for state licensing. Forty-six credit hours of coursework builds valuable skills in areas including:
- Advanced Pathophysiology
- Advanced Pharmacology
- Advanced Primary Nursing Care for Adults
Student Experiences at Carson-Newman
There is no better evidence of Carson-Newman’s success in training male nurses than the first-hand experiences of students. Kevin Light chose the MSN-FNP program because it allowed him to prepare for career advancement while working full-time. He found the one-on-one guidance of an academic advisor helping, saying:
“I was even encouraged in my first semester to have a better work-life balance to be successful and that meant a lot to me.”
Carson-Newman cultivates a welcoming community among its faculty and students. MSN-FNP student Chad McDannel cited this community as a reason for choosing this program over others:
“...the faculty, staff, and even all the other students were all working together and doing this as one big team. That has just really helped to take a lot of the pressure off and just focus.”
Get in touch with our enrollment advisors to learn more about how you can advance your nursing career with Carson-Newman.