Recruitment and Retention of Male Nursing Students

Monday, 9 November 2015: 10:40 AM

Deborah Kane, PhD, RN
Dale Rajacich, PhD, RN
Sheila Cameron, RN, EdD, DSc (Hon)
Faculty of Nursing, University of Windsor, Windsor, ON, Canada

Background:The national workforce of RNs in Canada is only 6.8% male, with provincial percentages of male RNs ranging from their lowest in Prince Edward Island (2%) to their highest in Quebec (10%) (Canadian Nurses Association, 2012).  This small number of males attracted to nursing as a profession is particularly important because of the projected shortages of RNs (Murphy et al., 2012). If current trends in Canada’s health profile continue Canada will face a 23% (N=60,000) RN shortage by the year 2022 (Tomblin Murphy et al., 2012). In order to increase the number of men in the nursing profession, it is essential to understand what factors brought current nursing students into their nursing program, as well as what factors affect their decisions to stay in their nursing program.

Method: Purposive and snowball sampling was used in this descriptive, qualitative study. Sixteen male nursing students participated in two focus groups conducted in southwestern Ontario. Through open-ended questions, students were asked to share what attracted them to nursing; if they have been treated differently from their female colleagues; what challenges they face as male nursing students; and what has kept them in the program and/or led them to consider withdrawing from their program. Focus group transcripts were subjected to manifest and latent inductive content analysis to identify both common and unique features of the experience of male nursing students.

Results:  Several common themes emerged as factors that affect the recruitment of men into nursing, including the stereotyped perceptions of nursing, public perception of men in nursing,  the influence of significant others, and job opportunities and job security. While male nursing students identified experiences with discrimination and stereotyping as negatively influencing their career choice, the rewarding experiences they encountered while providing patient care, positively influenced their retention within their nursing program. Greater understanding of the attractive and deterrant factors for men to enter a nursing program may provide areas of focus for recruitment strategies for post-secondary institutions. As well, understanding the causative factors affecting retention of men once they have entered a nursing program may provide an increased understanding of methods by which male attrition can be decreased.