attracting more men into the profession could contribute to the talent shortage

The state of the NHS workforce has rarely been more in the public consciousness. A global survey of nurses conducted by consultancy firm McKinsey in the summer of 2022 highlighted the perilous state of the sector. The survey, which was carried out in France, Singapore, Japan, the United States, Australia, Brazil and the United Kingdom, found that around one in four nurses considered leaving the profession. At the heart of this desire was burnout caused by overwork and understaffing.

It’s a situation that has been widely debated in the UK following the first-ever strike by members of the Royal College of Nursing in England. Data from NHS Digital reveals that there are more than 133,000 vacancies in NHS England, around one in three of which are for registered nurses. The scale of the crisis is underlined by the fact that this figure has increased by 19% compared to the same period last year.

The large number of vacancies has led to an understandable call for renewed interest in recruiting new nurses to the NHS. This is an effort that would be greatly facilitated if the sector were as attractive to men as to women. Indeed, official data from the Nursing and Midwifery Council shows that only 11% of registered nurses in the UK today identify as male.

gender stereotypes

This matters in several ways. First, men can often suffer from discrimination when applying for or working in stereotypically female roles. Indeed, research has shown that men receive approximately 40% fewer interview requests when applying for jobs in female-dominated industries.

These gender stereotypes emerge as young as five years old, with children associating certain professions with men and others with women – and they are incredibly difficult to change. Doing so will require rethinking how nurses are portrayed both in the media and in communication between industry and the general public.

We have seen in attempts to increase the number of women studying science, technology, engineering and math (Stem) and participating in these industries, that having a strong supply of role models greatly increases the participation of women. Just as these efforts have had to confound the stereotype that science and engineering are male disciplines, we also need a concerted effort to show that men can also thrive as nurses.

Research shows that going against gender norms has a social and emotional cost, but while there is less stigma associated with women when they work in “masculine” jobs, it does The same is not true when men perform “feminine” jobs. This is confounded by the stereotypes often associated with nurses as effeminate or homosexual (or failed doctors).

Not only does the healthcare sector face a chronic skills shortage today, but it is also estimated that the number of jobs in the sector will increase by 13% by 2031. Although the focus has been justified on Stem topics as underpinning the jobs of tomorrow, healthcare jobs promise to be more important than ever due to an aging society and the general trend of increasing healthcare spending. If industry wants to meet these needs, it cannot afford to neglect half the population.

Successful efforts to increase women’s participation in Stem point to several approaches that could be taken to do the same for men’s participation in health-related roles.

For example, healthcare organizations and universities should actively target men for job vacancies and training opportunities. This should be done in conjunction with providing more positive male role models. The potential for this was highlighted by a recent NHS campaign, called We are the NHS, which resulted in record numbers of men leaving school and applying to become nurses. The campaign was backed by actor Charles Venn, who plays a nurse in the BBC series Casualty.

This is a result to build on, with investments to support such campaigns. For example, in the United States, the American Association for Men in Nursing offers scholarships to men who have embarked on a career in nursing, but while this is encouraging, it is not on the same level as the support funding offered to Stem-related projects. .

Getting more men to become nurses has clear benefits for both the NHS and society as a whole, but getting there will take a real national effort. We showed what is possible with the desire to attract more women to Stem. Now we need to replicate that to make sure men feel nursing is a career for them.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Zografia Bika is currently receiving EU funding from the Interreg France (Channel) England program (2018-2023) called “Increase Valorisation Sociale” (“social value” in French) which offers micro-enterprise and business support services. employment to those furthest from the labor market, who are often ‘invisible’ and face a variety of complex barriers to employment.

Adi Gaskell does not work for, consult, own stock or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond his academic appointment.

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