The Lived Experiences and Challenges Faced by Male Nursing Students: A Canadian Perspective

Wally J. Bartfay, Emma Bartfay


Background: Despite the impending shortage of nurses in
Canada and globally, the recruitment and retention of males
to the profession has been a challenge in the new millennium
due to a variety of social barriers and negative stereotypes
propagated by the mass and social media, and in part by
schools of nursing themselves.
Purpose: To examine the lived experiences of male nursing
students in Ontario, Canada and their perceptions of
reported educational and practice barriers, and social
Design: A phenomenological approach was employed to
examine the lived experiences of 37 male nursing students.
Methods: Purposive and snowball sampling techniques were
employed to recruit male students from a mid-sized
university school of nursing. In depth, face-to-face
interviews were conducted and guided by semi-structured
open-end questions. Interviews were transcribed verbatim,
coded and thematically categorized to make sense of the
essential meanings.
Results: Barriers to recruitment and retention of males in
schools of nursing included the feminization of nursing
curriculums; reverse discrimination by female nursing
students, faculty and nursing clinical staff; a lack of positive
male role models in academia, and negative social
stereotypes including that men in nursing are effeminate,
gay or are labeled as inappropriate caregivers
Conclusion: The active recruitment and retention of males
into schools of nursing may help to address, in part, the
predicted global shortages facing the profession, while also
helping to promote gender diversity and social equity in this
critical health care profession.


Male nurse; stereotypes; recruitment; retention; gender diversity

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