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- According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data from 2023, men represent nearly 12% of all licensed practical nurses, registered nurses, and nurse practitioners.
- The percentage of nurses who are men has grown by 59% over the past 10 years.
- The American Association of Colleges of Nursing and nursing programs are expanding their recruitment efforts to men and other groups that have been historically underrepresented in nursing to fill the staffing shortages.
Nurses at all levels are in demand due to retiring nurses, primary care provider and nursing shortages, and high rates of nurse burnout. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) wants nursing programs to use more diverse recruitment strategies to recruit underrepresented groups in nursing to fill some of these gaps, such as men.
Men have been increasingly choosing nursing as their profession over the last 20 years. Find out about the growth of male nurses and the role they play in filling staffing shortages and creating a more representative workforce.
Male Representation in Nursing
The number of male nurses continues to grow at all levels of nursing, but nursing still has a long way to go to overcome the stigma labeling nursing as "women's work." However, in the last 20 years, the number of nurses who identify as men has more than doubled.
Men in Nursing by License Type
The percentage of nurses who identify as men has increased over the last 20 years, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In 2002, nearly 7% of RNs, LPNs, and NPs were men. Twenty years later, male nurses now make up about 12% of total nurses.
In the last 10 years alone, the percentage of nurses who identify as men has increased by more than 59%. Male LPNs increased by 112%, NPs by 108%, and RNs by 51%.
Number of Male Nurses Over Time
The BLS did not start tracking NPs as a unique occupation category until 2011 because of the changes in occupation classifications in the 2010 census that affected all future years. Before 2011, NPs were classified as RNs. Employment data for men in other nursing roles, such as certified nursing assistant, certified nurse midwife, and clinical nurse specialist, are not currently reported by the BLS.
Effective with January 2011 data, occupations reflect the introduction of the 2010 Census occupational classification system into the Current Population Survey, or household survey. This classification system is derived from the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC). No historical data have been revised. Data from 2002 to 2011 are not strictly comparable with later years.
Percentage of Male and Female Nurses
By Nursing Licensure, 2022
2022 had the highest representation of total male nurses. Male nurse representation was highest among RNs.
The Increase of Male Nurses From 2011-2022
Within the last 12 years, the percentage of RNs, NPs, and LPNs who are men has grown significantly. Yet, growth has not always remained consistent. On average, the percentage of male nurses increased by 0.3 percentage points year-over-year. Yet, in 2016, 2019, and 2022, men comprised a smaller percentage of total nurses than in the prior year.
From 2011 to 2022, the total number of male nurses increased from just over 303,000 to more than 500,000.
The table begins with data from 2011 because of the changes in occupation classifications in the 2010 census that affected all future years.
This data does not account for transgender and nonbinary individuals because the BLS only tracks the percentage of women in industries since most industries are male dominated. The number of male nurses was determined by subtracting the percentage of female nurses from the total number of employed persons.
Men as Advanced Practice Providers
BLS only started collecting data on the percentage of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) by sex in 2011. Before then, APRNs were listed as part of the RN data.
Additionally, few nurses become certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) and certified nurse midwives (CNMs), so BLS did not break those specialties down by sex. According to the most recent data on CNMs from the Health Resources and Services Administration's Nursing Workforce Survey in 2018, only 1% are men.
However, even the limited data on APRNs shows a growth trend for men becoming APRNs in the last 12 years. The number of nurse practitioners that are men has grown from 9,400 to more than 29,700 between 2011 and 2022
Most male nurses are CRNAs. According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) in 2022, men make up 40% of CRNAs compared to just under 13% of total LPNs, RNs, and NPs.
Male Representation by Nursing Degree
Men make up more of the currently enrolled students in bachelor's, master's, doctor of nursing practice (DNP), and doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) in nursing programs than the people who currently hold each degree. This trend shows the recruitment strategies may be working. Men are also slightly more likely to hold an associate degree in nursing (ADN) than a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree. Only about 13% of BSN students enrolled in the 2021-22 academic year were men, despite most employers preferring or requiring BSN-prepared nurses.
The percentage of associate and bachelor's degree-holders who are men changed less than 2% between the 2020 National Nursing Workforce Survey and the 2018 Health Resources and Services Administration's Nursing Workforce Survey.
DNP degrees are most popular among male nurses currently enrolled in nursing school and who have already completed their highest degree. This may be because 40% of CRNAs are men, according to the AANA, and CRNAs need a DNP to practice.
Men in Nursing School by Degree Type
|Degree||Percentage of Men Enrolled|
Source: AACN Fact Sheet - Enhancing Diversity in the Nursing Workforce
Men in Nursing by Highest Level of Education
|Degree||Percentage of Degree-Holders That Are Men|
The Role of Men in a Diverse Nursing Workforce to Combat the Nursing Shortage
The AACN wants to recruit more men, along with other groups that have been underrepresented in nursing, as part of their diverse nursing recruitment strategy. Nursing has historically been an industry of mostly white women.
According to the AACN, "Though nursing schools have made strides in recruiting and graduating nurses that reflect the patient population, more must be done before equal representation is realized."
However, the AACN and nursing programs are rethinking who they recruit into nursing. BLS projects 203,000 openings for RNs each year from 2021-2031 and a 46% projected increase of NPs between 2021-2031. Nursing schools know they need to recruit a more diverse workforce to help combat the nursing shortage.
More male nurses are part of that strategy. More than 215,000 men have joined the nursing field as LPNs, RNs, and NPs between 2002 and 2022, according to BLS. However, male nurses have not increased in number consistently since 2002.
These efforts have been inconsistent depending on the degree, license, and specialty. Most male nurses earn their DNP and become CRNAs. Other than CRNAs, registered nurse is the most popular nursing role for men.
Men are also drawn to certain specialties over others. According to the 2020 National Nursing Workforce Survey, men made up fewer than 3% of LPNs and RNs who worked in specialties such as:
- School nursing
- Labor and delivery
Popular Specialties for Male Nurses
We made a list of the top five specialties for male LPNs and RNs, based on data from the 2020 National Nursing Workforce Survey, most male nurses are in specialties with fast-paced environments that require them to be adaptable, have physical stamina, quickly solve problems, and critically think.
Certified registered nurse anesthetists fact sheet. (2022). American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology
Enhancing diversity in the workforce. (2022). American Association of Colleges of Nursing
Labor force statistics from the current population survey. (2023). U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Nursing workforce survey data. (n.d.). Health Resources & Services Administration
Nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners: Occupational Outlook Handbook. (2022). U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Registered nurses: Occupational Outlook Handbook. (2022). U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Smiley RA, et al. (2021). The 2020 national nursing workforce survey. Journal of Nursing Regulation
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