Advice and development

Where are all the male nursing students?

As England's chief nurse embarks on a project with the RCN to improve the image of nursing, let's start by recruiting more men into the profession, says nursing student Andrew Haydon. 
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As England's chief nurse embarks on a project with the RCN to improve the image of nursing, let's start by recruiting more men into the profession, says nursing student Andrew Haydon

When I told my young daughter that I was training to be a nurse, she said, 'But why? You should be a doctor because you're a man.'

This got me thinking. If a five-year-old believes this, do other people think the same?

Walking into my tutor group on my first day of training, there were about 20 female students, but I was the only male. Where were all the other men? Perhaps they had gone to the toilet or to get some water. Time ticked on, and they never did come back with any water. Nor were they in

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As England's chief nurse embarks on a project with the RCN to improve the image of nursing, let's start by recruiting more men into the profession, says nursing student Andrew Haydon 


Nursing student Andrew Haydon is calling for more males to consider the profession.

When I told my young daughter that I was training to be a nurse, she said, 'But why? You should be a doctor because you're a man.'

This got me thinking. If a five-year-old believes this, do other people think the same? 

Walking into my tutor group on my first day of training, there were about 20 female students, but I was the only male. Where were all the other men? Perhaps they had gone to the toilet or to get some water. Time ticked on, and they never did come back with any water. Nor were they in the toilet (I checked). 

9.4%

the number of male students offered places on pre-registration nursing programmes in the UK. 

Source: University and Colleges Admission Service (2016) 

A few weeks later, another male student joined our group. Finally, a bit of bromance. But I was still shocked at the lack of male students: out of a cohort of about 150 students, only 10% were male.

Outdated view 

On my first placement I worried whether I would be accepted as a male nursing student, especially by the patients. Sure enough, some had similar views to my daughter, wondering why I was training to be a nurse instead of a doctor. 

It made me question why there was such an outdated, stereotypical view of job roles. And it's not just nursing. Other public sector services, such as the fire service or the police, face similar issues. 

I have met some amazing nurses on my journey so far, but far fewer males than females. Walking around hospitals, there is a distinct lack of male nurses in any of the literature or on the posters in the corridors. Surely this could change? 

Not only is nursing a rewarding career, it is exciting. In just one day, you may help save someone's life, support a loved one through an incredibly distressing time, and see a patient you have cared for leave hospital and go home well. 

Too important

Chief nursing officer for England Jane Cummings recently announced that she is embarking on a joint project with the RCN to improve the image of nursing. This must include initiatives to help attract more men into the profession, such as more male advocates going into schools and colleges to talk about nursing. 

16,440

the number of males taking up nursing student places over the past seven years, out of a total 174,910.

Source: University and Colleges Admission Service (2016) 

I am looking at ways I can support my university with this. I regularly go back to Reading College where I did my access course to talk to students about my experiences of nursing and what a fantastic profession it is. But I cannot do this alone, it is too big a task for one person.

With the NHS facing significant staffing shortages, the reality is that we need more nurses, male and female.

Let's start making some positive changes and look at how we can recruit more men into the profession. It may take time, and it will certainly take effort, but this is too important an issue to ignore. 


Andrew Haydon is a nursing student at the University of West London 

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