Scotland

Why are only one in 10 nurses men?

Craig Orr with other nurses
Image caption Craig Orr is the only male nurse on his ward

Craig Orr used to be a police officer but after retiring early he retrained as a nurse.

His new career means the 46-year-old, who works at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy, is "surrounded by women".

Craig told BBC Scotland's The Nine: "There are approximately just over 50 members of staff and I'm the only male nurse here."

It is a similar story at hospitals across Scotland.

Last year the number of male nurses fell to a seven-year low, accounting for about 10% of the 65,000 nursing staff across the country.

Image caption Craig's ex-police officer colleagues can't believe his new career

Studies have suggested that men view nursing as a worthwhile career with good progression opportunities.

But they perceive a strong societal link between nursing and femininity which deters them from taking it up.

An NHS study last year said there was still a "stigma" attached to men in nursing and there were not enough role models to challenge this.

It also said that focus groups suggested men take longer to mature than women and do not realise that nursing is a suitable career for them at a young age.

Craig Orr says that when he bumps into ex-colleagues from the police, they ask what he is doing now.

"I say 'I'm a nurse'," Craig says.

"They say 'Oh really, I didn't expect that'."

Image caption Lee Ormiston is one of five men on his university nursing course

Lee Ormiston is a student nurse.

He is one of just five men in his year at Dundee University's School of Nursing in Fife.

"I think it is seen as a primarily feminine occupation," he says.

"Every TV programme or film you see, it is always a female nurse and you are not so 'macho' being in a nursing profession."

Image caption Lee says nursing is not considered 'macho'

Over the past decade the number of male nursing students across the country has remained stagnant at about 10%.

Recent figures from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) show male applicants for nursing courses in Scotland were up this year to 410 but they are still down from 460 in 2010.

Lee says: "Because there are not a lot of males already in the profession, that is causing the ones that want to do it not to come into it, because they feel it is not for them."

Dundee University School of Nursing lecturer Richard Craven has been doing research into why men are not applying to do nursing.

Image caption University lecturer Richard Craven asked football fans about their attitudes to males in nursing

Last weekend he went to Raith Rovers against Brechin City to talk to male football fans about nursing.

Some said the career was considered feminine and they would not go into it but others agreed there should be more men involved.

Mr Craven said: "From a person-centred care point of view, it gives people choice.

"I'm thinking particularly of experiences I have had in care of older adults, for example, where men of older generations, perhaps affected by things like dementia, might identify more strongly with younger men than they would with a woman carer."

Glasgow Caledonian University is also campaigning to address the gender imbalance in nursing.

The message could not be simpler - men are nurses too.

Student nurse Lee Ormiston says: "You can be a man, you can be empathetic, get a career in nursing, help people. Definitely."

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