When it comes to the nursing industry, men are in the minority. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 9 percent of nurses are men. And yet Alvin Jeffery, a nurse scientist, educator and nurse practitioner in Nashville, Tennessee, has thrived in a female-dominated industry.

Jeffery has held a variety of positions in the nursing profession, from emergency department technician to pediatric critical care nurse. While he has enjoyed taking on new challenges throughout his career, his current role — nurse scientist — is his favorite.

[S]peaking up and showing up is the key for success.

“I love the role because it offers the flexibility to do everything from interact with people in a clinical setting, speak at conferences, write books and articles to help inform practice and ask important questions for which I get to lead a team to finding an answer,” says Jefferey.

Carving your own path

While he doesn’t think nurses need to follow his same career path, he does believe they should seek as many opportunities as possible if they want to become a leader.

“Seeing how other units or organizations provide patient care, having mentors, doing volunteer work, serving on a local non-profit board, precepting a new nurse, attending a national conference, traveling internationally, and so much more... All of these experiences help you realize there's not just one way of doing something,” says Jefferey.  

Advice for the men

Jeffery says speaking up and showing up is the key for success in nursing.

“Once you're in school, speak up when you don't understand something or if you feel like you're not receiving equal treatment as your female peers,” he advises. “Once you're on the job, speak up when you notice opportunities for improvement and show up for committee meetings, town halls, and other places where decisions are made in your organization.”