The benefits of increasing the number of nurses
The nursing profession continues to evolve to meet the ever-changing demands of health care. In recent years, DEI efforts have become standard practice in healthcare staffing; however, men continue to be an underrepresented group within the nursing profession. Increasing the number of nurses could have a significant impact on the health sector.
In 2022, the United States has approximately 4.2 million registered nurses. Although a staggering number, nurses only make up about 9% of the nursing workforce, or about 330,000 out of 4.2 million. Culturally, nursing has been widely seen as a female domain.
Prime-time TV dramas continue to promote the narrative that nursing is for women. As healthcare organizations prioritize DEI, it is crucial that male RNs are recognized, accepted, and valued. Let’s explore the potential benefits if healthcare organizations increase their number of nurses.
Addressing the National Nursing Shortage
The United States is experiencing an unprecedented shortage of nurses, which is expected to last through 2030. COVID-19 has presented immense challenges for healthcare workers, leading many to quit altogether the profession. The focus on encouraging male RNs to enter the profession could help address the national nursing shortage.
Vince Baiera, BSN, Principal at Relias, emphasized the importance of increasing the number of male RNs. “Health care needs more male nurses, period. For a healthcare system that is dramatically understaffed, with the profession being approximately 90% female, we are essentially missing the half of the population (men) who could help make a difference for all Americans,” says- he. “We are in the midst of a shortage in our country that will have a ripple effect for years to come and will unfortunately prevent many Americans from getting the care they need and deserve.”
Not only will increasing the number of male RNs promote equity and inclusion, but it could also be extremely beneficial for patients. With an increase in the number of male RNs, nurse-patient ratios are likely to improve. Studies showed that nurse-patient ratios impact patient outcomes, including in-hospital mortality. When nurses have more time to spend with patients, fewer adverse events occur.
Increase in DEI and patient representation among caregivers
A focus on DEI can impact all facets of a healthcare organization, potentially improving staffing outcomes, and perhaps most importantly, patient care outcomes. In 2021, the number of men in the United States is approximately 164 million, nearly half of the population. This is a big difference in the number of male registered nurses – 330,000 – who are available to provide care.
The lack of nurses can inadvertently lead to patients not only being underrepresented, but also misunderstood. Male RNs provide insight into the male experience to help better understand how best to care for male patients.
Ray Goodwin, BSN, RN, is a staff nurse at ICU Neuro in Winston-Salem, NC, and explains why it’s crucial for patients to have nurses.
“Having men play a female-dominated role has changed the way care is delivered and the way nurses can advocate for their patients,” Goodwin says.
“Before, it was very easy for a [male] doctor to ignore a [female] nurse because gender barriers in America were so permanent. By having the male perspective better represented in nursing, more patients can be understood and advocated for.
Changing the Culture: Breaking Nursing Bias
The healthcare field has historically been a fairly accurate reflection of the cultural biases present in society. Men were encouraged to pursue roles as surgeons, nurse anesthetists, and other more high-profile roles in health care, while women were encouraged to become nurses.
This reinforces the cultural narrative that women are conditioned to help men, not challenge them. As awareness of this issue increases, it is essential that the medical field reflects this cultural shift.
Baiera intervenes on this issue. “It starts with removing any remaining stigma that might surround the profession that says it’s just for women and it’s not a ‘manly’ job. Having started my career at the Cleveland Clinic in their Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit, I can assure you that this will test your critical thinking ability and endurance to the highest degree regardless of the gender you identify with. he says.
“By educating more men about the profession, we can attract people from all socioeconomic backgrounds and create a more diverse healthcare workforce,” Baiera said.
“It adds value to the patient as they will feel they can relate more to the caregivers and will feel their best interest is at the center of their care.”
For systematic change to occur, it must not only be reflected in direct care settings, but also in education. Educators will need to advocate for male RNs to achieve equality in nursing.
Increase the number of nurses account
Encouraging more male RNs to join the profession could not only combat the nursing shortage, but also improve DEI efforts, break gender stigma and, above all, improve the quality of care. and the lives of patients. At some point, everyone will be a patient, and having a carer who understands is crucial. By promoting greater male representation in nursing, the culture can change for the better.
As our nation’s population continues to diversify, increasing the diversity of the nursing workforce can help nurses better meet patient needs and advance health equity. To learn more about current levels of diversity in nursing, review the findings of our Nurses Salary Research Report.