Nursing is a notoriously difficult career. From long hours with few breaks, to an unpredictable workload, nurses are expected to support patients and their families through some of their hardest moments, which can be difficult at the best of times. And perhaps even more so for male nurses, who still only make up under 11 percent of all nurses in the UK.

Despite being one of the most gender-segregated job roles, in 2019 male nursing applications in the UK hit all time high. The group with the highest application rate was school leavers, aged 18. In the last decade, applications in this age group have risen by 50 percent, reflecting changing attitudes surrounding the traditionally female role.

The closing of the gender gap comes despite the removal of the NHS bursary, which previously helped students to cover costs associated with their degree. Between 2016 and 2018 there was a 31 percent decrease in applications due to the withdrawal of this funding, leaving many applicants unable to pursue a career in Nursing. 2019 applications have seen an overall 4.1 percent increase on 2018 however, suggesting that campaigns such as ‘We are the NHS’ are encouraging more people, including men, to consider Nursing.

To gain a better understanding of the challenges facing nursing students today, Concrete asked current second year students to share their thoughts on the national rise in male applicants.

Andriena Richards said ‘I think it’s fantastic that there has been an increase in male nursing applicants. Men should be encouraged to become nurses so that patients see a variety of people in the profession.’

Although, she also pointed out that there is sometimes still a stigma around male nurses, with some being called gay or asked why they chose not to be doctors instead.

Sam Woolcock, who has worked with patients with dementia said that he has noticed the value that some male patients place on having a male nurse and ‘man-to-man’ input in their care.

Roberto Bogyere mirrored this point. He applied for nursing because he loves caring for people, and finds it especially rewarding when patients he works with regain a sense of independence that can so often be disrupted through illness. He said: ‘At the end of it all, I can say that I helped that person regain their skills and their life back. That is something I find very satisfying.’

Surprisingly, despite the national increase, UEA has seen a slight fall in male applicants this year, from 21.24 percent in 2017/18 to 19.51 percent in 2018/19. Although, with male students making up approximately one fifth of all of its Nursing students, UEA still leads the way in closing the female: male split nationally.

Despite the literal blood, sweat and tears that student nurses experience during their Nursing degrees, the general consensus is that it is worth it to pursue a career that you love, whatever your gender…


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