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INDIANAPOLIS — The demand for nurses continues to rise and more males are being drawn to the field than ever before. While it’s a profession mostly dominated by women, this hasn’t stopped the many men entering the field looking to make an impact and break the long-held stereotype. 

“Some of the stigma is related to traditional gender roles,” Jason Gilbert, chief nursing officer for Methodist and IU Health hospitals told News 8. “Nursing didn’t fit the masculine mold and there was this thought that men couldn’t be as caring and compassionate in the field as women.” 

But responsibilities continue to evolve, said Gilbert. Baby boomers are aging rapidly, requiring increased provisions and services. The expanding role of nurses coupled with the flexibility the job affords is two factors attracting men the most. 

“Stereotypes still exist, but we’re starting to overcome them. It’s one of the few professions you can have such a variety of experiences without changing professions,” Gilbert said. 

The path to a nursing career is neither quick nor easy. It takes years of coursework, internships and clinical rounds. At a minimum, an associate’s degree is required. That degree can take up to three years to complete. There’s also the option to obtain a four-year bachelor’s and move beyond to the master’s and doctoral level, opening opportunities in multiple clinical settings, academia, and professional development. 

“It’s one of the most exciting times [for male nurses],” said Tanya Hahn, vice president of talent acquisition at IU Health. “The variety of roles to choose from, the different settings you can work in.”

The profession, Hahn said, also really resonates with early careerists and millennials: “They are all very motivated to find meaningful work and a career in nursing provides that.”

Nursing attracts a special kind of person — someone caring, compassionate and who can spring into action in a medical moment’s notice. 

“Tasks can be scattered, so you have to be sharp,” said Tyler Hoeppner, an intensive care unit nurse at IU Health Methodist Hospital. “You have to come in and know exactly what you have to do at exactly the right time–certain procedures, certain medications. It can be really busy, and you’re constantly on the go. But you have to be. You have people’s lives in your hands.”

When asked what advice he’d give a man considering a nursing career, Hoeppner responded: “Nursing is such a great field to get into. The stereotypes are gone. You work hard. You get to think. There are a lot of rewards in what we do.”

Story by Dr. Mary Gillis, D.Ed

(PHOTO: only5/Thinkstock)