‘It’s time to encourage more men to become nursing associates’
Senior Lecturer Ian Cooper has written an opinion piece for the Nursing Times about his experience of being a nurse and encouraging other men into the profession.
To open Ian writes:
Very often being the only male in a female-dominated environment has presented many challenges. Having been told many times when required to carry out a procedure that "You’re a man!" and asked "Why didn’t you want to be a doctor?" has meant I have been subjected to traditional social stigmas that it is not right for a man to be a nurse.
Despite this stigma, nursing has given me a secure, diverse and challenging career. I started as a urology nurse then moved on to practice nursing, where I then became qualified as an advanced nurse practitioner and now work as a senior lecturer on the nursing associate programme.
Training for the nursing associate role commenced in 2017 and the first nursing associates joined the Nursing and Midwifery Council register in January 2019. The role was commissioned to help bridge the gap between healthcare workers and nurses. Current figures estimate a shortage of 40,000 nurses and the government are committed to increase nurse numbers by 50,000 over the next five years. The number of male nursing associate apprentices at the university is 11.6 per cent which is a similar figure to the number of registered male nurses.
Further into the piece he writes:
As I am working at the university, I feel I now have the platform to engage with local schools and colleges to attend career advice days and also be involved in talking with teenage boys about the benefits of a career in nursing.
Studies have shown that men often decline being a nurse as there is traditional family and societal pressure for the man to be the breadwinner and that nursing is not a very masculine job to do. If I can speak with this age group and demonstrate that you can build a successful career and provide for a family, then teenage boys will give nursing consideration, whereas before it is something they hadn’t ever considered.
Working at the university offers me an opportunity to explore how I can become involved in raising the profile of men in nursing, particularly in relation to the new nursing associate role. This will be an exciting challenge as I develop new skills and insight into how we can reach this audience. I need to embrace social media, write more articles for journals and really portray nursing to men in a positive light.
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