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Men in Nursing

3 Nursing Experts Share Advice for Aspiring Professionals

How can men contribute to and benefit from a career in nursing? Three male nurses tell us about their experiences in the field and why diversity in nursing is critical.

Benjamin Phillips

BSN ’18 University of Colorado College of Nursing Pediatric Emergency Nurse, Children’s Hospital of Colorado

When did you first become interested in nursing? What inspired you to pursue this kind of career?

Like many nurses, I entered the nursing profession as a second career. I was looking for something that would be challenging, and more importantly, rewarding. I don’t ever have to wonder why I’m going to work.

What has your experience been like in your program or in the field?

The University of Colorado (CU) College of Nursing was both challenging and rigorous. However, I felt prepared to enter what can often be an unremitting profession.

Why do you think it’s important to encourage men to go into nursing? Are there benefits to more diversity in the profession?

I think that men entering nursing is great for the profession. A more equal distribution of gender and accurate representation of diversity in health care is a great emerging trend.

What excited you the most about nursing and what advice can you offer to prospective students?

Nursing is that perfect mix of purpose, compassion, and critical thinking. There are certainly days that are challenging, but the reward is a career filled with continued purpose.

Charles Lanum

Staff Nurse, Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center Emergency Department

When did you first become interested in nursing? What inspired you to pursue this kind of career?

After college, I was working with the mental health population but could not pay my bills and didn’t want to sit behind a desk all day. Psychiatric nursing was appealing because it allowed me to continue working with the psychiatric population while incorporating medical and pharmacological knowledge into my skill set.

What has your experience been like in your program or in the field?

As an ED psych nurse, my job is more than just passing pills. It requires critical thinking and a broad range of skills and education in order to care for patients in crisis. The ED is fast-paced, and nurses have lots of responsibility and autonomy in their roles. It’s also meaningful to serve one of the most disenfranchised populations in our community.

Why do you think it’s important to encourage men to go into nursing? Are there benefits to more diversity in the profession?

Any field benefits from diversity, and having more men is one way to increase that diversity. Nursing doesn’t lack something that only men can provide. The job requires empathy, compassion, discipline, intelligence and resiliency. Those are qualities of the people in health care, regardless of gender.

What excited you the most about nursing and what advice can you offer to prospective students?

Nursing involves a lot of responsibility, education, and a large skill set. I am most excited that my job will constantly require me to expand on these skills and challenge me to grow. I also had the opportunity to be mentored by great nurses, and I like being in a meaningful job that allows me to be supported by my coworkers.

Mark Erickson, BSN, RN

DNP Student, Seattle University

When did you first become interested in nursing? What inspired you to pursue this kind of career? 

I became interested in the field when traveling with a volunteer group called Global Impact. The team I worked with consisted of health professionals that collaborated with locals to provide health care in rural villages in northern Vietnam. I saw what an impact these professionals made on the people they cared for. It was a career-defining moment.

What has your experience been like in your program or in the field?

My experience as a nurse has been incredible. Some days are challenging, but the hard work is rewarded by the positive influence I have on people’s lives. As I have grown into the role, it has become a part of who I am. Clinically, I have developed a great education. I have also learned so much about myself in the process.

Why do you think it’s important to encourage men to go into nursing? Are there benefits to more diversity in the profession?

In order to care for a diverse population, it is imperative that the nursing workforce diversify so all Americans have access to high quality care. Nursing remains predominately white and female. Strategies must be identified to expand the profession in terms of not only gender but also ethnicity and race.

What excited you the most about nursing and what advice can you offer to prospective students?

Nursing isn’t just about caring for others. What I find most exciting is the honor of getting to know my patients and learning from them. If you are thinking of becoming a nurse, I would recommend joining a medical volunteer program. It’s a great way to gain experience and exposure before committing to nursing school. Experience and education go hand in hand.

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