Background: Nursing, despite its advancement, is still widely perceived to be a “female profession”. Globally, this perception has often deterred the entry of qualified young men into the profession making recruitment and retention of men into the nursing profession a worldwide challenge. Nigeria is no exception. In Nigeria most men who venture into the profession leave soon after graduation in search for greener pastures or divert to study in other fields like medicine because of the public misconceptions about men in nursing. It is critical that we recruit more men into the nursing ranks to address the greater need for a more diverse nursing workforce. Exploring into the perceived misconceptions’ may be a solution to the low male enrolment into nursing and to the nursing manpower shortage at the long run.
Objective: To explore the perception of adults towards men in nursing in Calabar municipality of Cross River State, Nigeria.
Methods: A self structured questionnaire was administered to 196 adult men and women selected through purposive sampling.
Results: Of the 196 respondents 169(83.3%) were between the ages of 18-30yrs, only 27 (13.8%) were aged 28 and above. Considering gender, male and female were 98(50%) each. Majority 175 (89.5%) were single while 19 (9.7%) and 2 (1%) were married and divorced respectively. 146 (74.5%) had tertiary education whereas 34(17.4%), 2(1%) and 14 (7.1%) had secondary, primary and no education respectively. The result further showed that adults in Calabar municipality have negative perception of men in nursing: men become nurses because they are under achievers 132(67.3%) agreed; men in nursing are less compassionate than females 115 (58.7%) agreed; men in nursing are as skilful in giving care as women 172(87.4%) disagreed. Factors that influenced perception includes: mass media 104(53.0%), society’s consideration that nursing is feminine 109 (55.6%) and the misinterpretation of a man’s touch to sexual influence 152(77.6%). Furthermore the result showed that society’s perception has a negative influence on men in nursing as 127 (64.8%) respondents agreed that they cannot do a job that the society considers inappropriate for their gender.
Conclusions: Adults in Calabar Municipality seems to have a negative perception about men in nursing and this reflects the limited attraction by men to the nursing profession even though they appreciate it. Regarding men’s influences on professional development, and also the importance of gender-based caring, policies for recruitment and retention of men in nursing must be followed hastily. Future research is indeed warranted to investigate other key factors that may influence the overall male perception toward the profession of nursing.