Male nurses spearhead recruitment drive in Scottish schools

Male nurses are to spearhead a recruitment drive among boys at schools in Scotland.

Recruitment of male nurses is worryingly low at 11 per cent  and numbers are slipping back even further. Picture: Rex/Shutterstock
Recruitment of male nurses is worryingly low at 11 per cent  and numbers are slipping back even further. Picture: Rex/Shutterstock

It’s part of a plan by the Royal College of Nursing to attract more men into a profession where women account for 89 per cent of the workforce.

A pilot scheme is being planned where nurses of both genders will talk to pupils to give them an insight into their roles and challenge stereotypes.

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The initiative, which is being drawn up by the (RCN) Students Committee, is expected to launch next year and target pupils from primary seven to S2 in Scotland.

It is part of increasing efforts to boost the low number of male nurses, which have declined in Scotland, according to the latest figures.

Experts say there is a need for a “rebranding” of the nursing profession to make it appealing to both sexes and challenge society’s perception of it as “women’s work”.

Latest figures show men account for just 11 per cent of the nursing workforce in Scotland – with the equivalent of 6,658 full-time posts in March 2018.

That figure has dropped from 6,828 in 2013.

Dr Heather Whitford, of Dundee University’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences, will be speaking at an RCN event being held later this month at Glasgow Caledonian University to discuss why men are under-represented in the profession.

She said research had shown that fewer than one in ten nursing students are male.

She said: “Although nursing is viewed as a worthwhile career choice, there was a perception it was a predominantly female profession.

“We think positive rebranding of nursing is needed, probably at a national level.

“School education is probably a key aspect – so at pre- school, primary school and secondary school there needs to be the introduction of topics with gender-neutral images and language to try to counter the stereotypes of the kind of person who becomes a nurse.

“It is a very pervasive societal view of what nursing is. It is a hard one to overcome.”

The University of Dundee launched a campaign last year called #Mendocare which aims to encourage more men into nursing.

The RCN event, Nursing: A Career For Men, will be held at Glasgow Caledonian University on 28 August.

Theresa Fyffe, RCN Scotland director, said: “Nursing is a rewarding and exciting career and it’s really important that we encourage as many people as possible into the profession. Growing demands on health services mean that more nurses with the right level of complex decision-making and technical skills are needed.”