More men needed in nursing

Michael McIlhone, Pegasus Health Director of Nursing, reflects on males in the profession and how to encourage more.

“I’ve been nursing for 44 years. I vividly remember when I commenced my training being the only male in my nursing class. In those days males predominately went into mental health or tertiary nursing. Not many, if any, went into primary care. That’s gradually changed over the years but we still need to provide more information and access for men to see primary care as an attractive career option.”

Michael said there are about three male nurse practitioners working in general practice in Canterbury and up to 10 male registered nurses working in general practice or primary health care.

One of the ways to increase the number of males in primary care nursing is to make it clear early in their training that it is a varied option with plenty of opportunity. Michael says in Canterbury there are good relationships between health providers and trainers to enable this. Relationships with secondary schools are also developing.

Michael says males in primary care often say it fits well with their desire to make a difference and connect with a variety of people. The same applies to males in nursing training: “ They don’t see barriers, they see opportunities.”

“Primary c are is at the coal f ace and engaging with people and their needs. If you want to be involved in a holistic area of health and empower the health consumer, it offers that and more.”

Michael says encouraging more males into primary care nursing reflects
a model where patients have the opportunity to identify with the most
appropriate health professional to meet their health needs.

“Part of achieving equitable access and equitable health outcomes is developing a workforce that reflects the diversity of our patients – men are part of the solution.”

Read the full November newsletter.