Recent surveys show that less than 6% of all registered nurses (RNs) are male. Male nurses have existed for many years, though the profession has always been dominated by females.
Why this is can be left to debate, though it probably stems from the fact that nursing was one of the few careers that women were able to have long ago. During wartime eras, men were fighting as soldiers while women helped by becoming nurses. Today, however, male nurses enjoy a prosperous career in a growing field. The number of male nurses is growing worldwide.
There have been a few famous male nurses throughout history. Although women like Florence Nightingale and Clara Barton are often credited for being groundbreaking nurses, people like Walt Whitman and James Derham dedicated much of their lives to nursing. Whitman, most famous for his poetry, was a volunteer nurse during much of the Civil War. Derham was the United States' first African American physician, though he first served as a male nurse.
Becoming a male nurse is a great opportunity for a fast-paced career with plenty of potential for growth. The United States, in particular, is experiencing a shortage of nurses. For this reason, more financial aid opportunities are opening for nursing students and the average salary of a nurse is above the national average. In fact, the average yearly income of a licensed male nurse is only expected to rise in the projected future.
Men have sometimes hesitated entering the nursing field, as it is often misconstrued as a career for women. Nothing could be further from the truth and the stereotype of nurses being subordinates to doctors is also fading. Today, more doctors view nurses as equals than ever before. The roles of doctor and nurse merely different. Neither is more important than the other. Also, the image of a male nurse is changing and it is becoming less unorthodox to see a practicing male nurse in a medical facility.
With the nursing industry booming and financial aid being offered specifically to those in nursing school, there had never been a better time for men to enter the nursing field. Many schools are making efforts to quash the stereotype of nurses being female. Since male nurses are a minority, schools and textbook manufacturers are updating literature to show male nurses more prominently than they had in the past. With such efforts to make the nursing field more diverse, there should be a surge in male nurses in the near future.
The role of nurse is revered in society as being a position for those with skill, knowledge and compassion. This reputation is due in no small part to the famous men and women that have proven themselves to be selfless, dedicated nurses.
The legacy of many nurses has lived on for decades and continues to inspire people to become professional caregivers or, at the very least, more compassionate. Listed below are the five most famous nurses in history.
Florence Nightingale - The word "nurse" is synonymous with Florence Nightingale, the most famous nurse of all time. A British nurse who worked during the 19th century, Nightingale was a selfless nurse who braved harsh conditions in battle during the Crimean War. Also a statistician, Nightingale's dedication to reducing the deaths of British Army soldiers produced some groundbreaking findings on the living conditions of patients. Nightingale advocated cleanliness for all people in the hopes to reduce illness and death.
Clara Barton - Clara Barton's name is almost as closely related to nursing as Florence Nightingale's. Barton is most famous for organizing the American Red Cross. A lifelong philanthropist in the 1800's, Barton was shocked at the number of lives lost in the Battle of Bull Run due to lack of medical supplies. After that, she traveled with medical teams during the war and assisted as a nurse. Amazingly, she had no formal medical training before her efforts in the war.
Margaret Sanger - Margaret Sanger is one of the most famous nurses and women's liberation activists in the world. She advocated women's use of birth control, something that was not common in the early 20th century when she was working as a nurse. Sanger founded the American Birth Control League, which later became Planned Parenthood. She is largely credited as being responsible for making birth control readily available for women worldwide.
Dorothea Lynde Dix - Also known as "Dragon Dix", Dorothea Dix was one of the most famous nurses in the Civil War. She did, in fact, serve as Superintendent of Nurses during that era and was known for her patient advocacy. Dix fought for the fair treatment of both patients and prisoners, bringing about great changes in the policies of mental hospitals. Her unfortunate nickname, however, stemmed from the strict rules she enforced with her staff nurses.
Walt Whitman - Although not necessarily famous for his nursing, Walt Whitman is perhaps one of the most famous nurse in history. At the very least, Whitman is the most famous male nurse. This celebrated poet, author of Leaves of Grass, spent the better part of the Civil War as a volunteer nurse after his brother was wounded.
There are many great historical figures who have served as nurses. The career is considered a noble one, which the above people have only further highlighted. What makes a nurse famous is usually not his/her skill in medicine but a dedication to the rights and health of all human beings. This is a philosophy that everyone can aspire to, not just professional nurses.