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Most Male Nurses Work in Intensive Care Unit (ICU)

In hospitals and clinics across the country, the intensive care unit, or ICU, tends to have more male nurses than female nurses for a variety of reasons. Based on the research available, there isn’t one overriding push to make the healthcare work area gender-specific. Instead, the reasons tend to include education and skill, the type of environment an ICU involves, and the time available for a nurse to develop more specific certifications via training or formal education.

Reason Why Most Male Nurses Work in Intensive Care Unit (ICU)

Attraction to Specialties

While there is no question that female nurses dominate the occupation overall, with male nurses only representing slightly over five percent of the nurse population, most male nurses gravitate to specialty positions for both higher pay and work environment satisfaction. A 2005 study of 498 nurses by Hodes Research found ninety-three percent of respondents were registered nurses.

Specialty roles require a higher level of nurse skill sets than general nursing. As a result, these positions pay better both in clinics and hospitals, as well as in nursing facilities. A certified registered anesthetist, commonly used in ICU and the emergency room, can earn an average $135,000 annually. For men, who traditionally find themselves in the real or perceived role of being a breadwinner, finding more income tends to be more attractive career-wise.

Men’s ability to pursue specialty positions, which are common in ICUs for a variety of intensive care needs, tends to be greater since they frequently aren’t in the role of childcare. As such, they have more time to dedicate to studying and pursuing higher-pay positions through studying, working overtime, and developing experience faster. Not surprisingly, more male nurses are eligible to be placed in ICUs than female nurses simply based on skills, attributes and knowledge.

Attraction to the ICU Environment

A number of male nurses prefer action-oriented environments rather than general care. For reasons ranging from communication issues with the opposite gender to better career role fulfillment, men in nursing tend to find more career satisfaction being in the thick of trauma care and immediate stress situations than they do in general care settings. As such, they gravitate to those roles that require immediate decision-making and reaction, with little time to ponder or ruminate over tasks.

Background Training

A good number of male nurses are also coming out of military roles where all they did in their assignment was work in trauma and military ICUs as nurses. As a result, the civilian ICU is the next best thing to what these nurses were already doing in their military assignment, including the level of reaction and work drivers they were responsible for.

Conclusion

Due to a variety of reasons discussed above, male nurses are more likely to be found in fast-action locations of healthcare including ICUs, operating rooms, trauma centers and emergency rooms. According to Scrubs, the role fits their pursuits, career path, background, and nature better, according to both anecdotal statements and pay statistics. In most cases, the salary available tends to be the key driver attracting male nurses to the ICU, but the fast-paced work environment also matches prior roles and personal expectations as well. Not surprisingly then, male nurses populate the ICU in far greater numbers.

Nursing Scholarships

American Assembly for Men in Nursing (AAMN) American Cancer Society Doctoral Degree Scholarships in Cancer Nursing Gallagher Student Health Careers Scholarship
The Gates Millenium Scholars (GMS) National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA)
New Careers in Nursing (NCIN) Nurse Corps Scholarship (NCS) Nurses of Tomorrow
Nursing Economics Foundation Tylenol Future Care Scholarship American Holistic Nurses Association
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