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Congress rejects call for strategy to recruit more men to nursing

Speakers say they want to promote nursing to everyone, regardless of gender

RCN congress rejected a call to create a strategy to recruit more men to nursing.

Many speakers at the annual congress in Belfast said they opposed the idea because they would rather promote nursing to everyone, regardless of gender.

The issue was raised by David Ferran of the Belfast branch, who said fewer men were joining nursing at time when more nurses were desperately needed.

Nursing is evidence-based, and the evidence tells us the numbers of male nurses are falling, he said. Our message should be clear, that men are welcome in nursing.

Register shows decline

Nursing and Midwifery Council figures show about 11% of the 690,278 nurses and midwives on the UK register at the end of March 2018 were male.

Mr


David Ferran said the RCN’s message should be that men are welcome in nursing.
Picture: John Houlihan

RCN congress rejected a call to create a strategy to recruit more men to nursing.

Many speakers at the annual congress in Belfast said they opposed the idea because they would rather promote nursing to everyone, regardless of gender.

The issue was raised by David Ferran of the Belfast branch, who said fewer men were joining nursing at time when more nurses were desperately needed.

‘Nursing is evidence-based, and the evidence tells us the numbers of male nurses are falling,’ he said. ‘Our message should be clear, that men are welcome in nursing.’

Register shows decline

Nursing and Midwifery Council figures show about 11% of the 690,278 nurses and midwives on the UK register at the end of March 2018 were male.

Mr Ferran recalled an experience he had as a nursing student when his mentor, a woman, asked him to provide personal care to an older male patient. ‘She could see he was embarrassed and uncomfortable about being undressed by a female. I was the only male member of nursing staff on that day, as I frequently am.

‘What would have happened if no male members of staff had been on shift that day?’

Craig Davidson, a student committee member for Scotland, said singling out men would be discriminatory. ‘I don’t believe we should be giving scholarships or grants to attract men into nursing,’ he said.


Jason Warriner RCN disagreed
with the idea of a strategy to
attract men into the profession.
Picture: John Houlihan

‘Remarkable women have paved the way in our profession for years and we would be doing a disservice to discriminate positively like this.’

Need to do more

RCN public health forum chair Jason Warriner also disagreed with the idea of a strategy to attract men. ‘What we should have is a strategy to promote nursing as a career for everyone, regardless of their gender,’ he said.

Greater Bristol branch member Penny Mannings said the RCN needed to do more, and referred to a video about careers put out by the college around the time of congress. ‘They were all women, there was not a single male,’ she said.

Asghar Muhammad of inner north central London branch said he had experienced discrimination in his community as a nurse and that was something the RCN should be aware of.

‘Male nursing is a stigma in the south Asian community,’ he said. ‘How we overcome that is a big issue we need to work on together.’

Positive models

After the resolution was rejected, RCN general secretary Janet Davies defended the college's record on male representation but acknowledged it could do more in terms of promotional materials.  

 ‘We have a very high proportion of men on our council… so we have got those positive models within the governance,’ she said.

‘But I think it is absolutely fair that we always need to look at anything we put out to make sure we have the right breadth of image and the right breadth of role.’

Ms Davies said attracting men into nursing would become more challenging in England once the postgraduate nursing student bursary is scrapped in August 2018. She said men were often inspired to come to nursing later in life after experiencing caring for someone or wanting to make a difference.


Asghar Muhammad said he had experienced discrimination in his community as a nurse.​​​
Picture: John Houlihan


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