In 2004, men
made up 3.2% of Saskatchewan's nursing workforce; below the Canadian average
of 5.4%. Nursing is a profession traditionally associated with women. Even
today, when women make up increasing percentages of traditionally male fields,
such as law and medicine, men have not seen a parallel increase in their numbers
in the nursing workforce.
male RNs the most frequently identified areas of responsibility in 2004 were
Medicine/Surgery (17.6%), Psychiatry/Mental Health (13.2%), Critical Care (9.3%)
and Emergency Room (9.0%). Despite the fact that males comprise only 5.4%
of the RN workforce, males account for 14.4% of all RNs employed in Psychiatry/Mental
Health" (Canadian Institute for Health Information, 38). The Weyburn psychiatric
facility, for example, had a full complement of male nurses to work the male
patient wards. For a large portion of the institution's history, female
nurses were not allowed to work on the male wards.
nurses were some of the pioneers of the profession, tending to wounded soldiers
during wars. But since the actual registration of nurses began, men have
made up a very small proportion of them.
reason for such a small number of male nurses is difficult to determine. Cultural
and social biases that discourage men from entering nursing certainly play a
role. An article published in the March 2004 issue of On Campus News ,
a University of Saskatchewan newsletter, points to stereotyping as the main barrier
to males entering the nursing profession. Male nurses will often be mistaken
for doctors; a stereotype that has been difficult to overcome. Furthermore,
a lack of role models in the profession and among university faculty is a factor.
The University of Saskatchewan College of Nursing "has made a concerted effort to
hire male faculty (it has two)...but it has yet to provide protected seats for
male students as it does for Aboriginal applicants, another group underrepresented
in the profession" (On Campus News). An article in a University of British
Columbia newsletter also points to the portrayal of nurses as seductive females
in movies and on television as a contributing factor (Forgacs).
of educational institutions, unions and workplaces are more difficult to pin
down. Larry Connell, a nurse in Alberta, mentions that his union has a
constitution that refers to nurses as "her" and "she", but mentions that he's
willing to "work on that." His experience has been that most patients
are receptive to male nurses and, except for the odd co-worker taking exception,
gender has never been a barrier for him in his work.