Number of male nursing students increases statewide
Hospitals across Florida are trying to mend staffing gaps created by a statewide shortage of nurses. A 2008 report by the Florida Center for Nursing Care estimated that the shortage could expand to as much as 52,000 over the next 13 years.
The nursing profession has traditionally been female dominated, but some colleges are reporting that more males are applying to registered nursing programs, a trend that could assist the health industry in dealing with the staggering demand for care by the aging baby boomer population.
Last week, St. Petersburg College reported that male enrollment for two-year nurse degrees increased from 83 to 90 and four-year programs from 48 to 60. Seminole Community College also discovered an increase of male applicants from 32 to 58.
Currently, only 6 percent of nurses across the United States are male, according to 2006 figures from the American Nurses Association.
Local colleges in Lee County, on the other hand, reported a steady male nursing population of approximately 10 percent, and no substantial increases like its counterparts statewide.
These figures may change because local colleges such as Edison State and Florida Gulf Coast University recently expanded their degree programs.
Edison State College in Fort Myers offers a bachelor’s of science in nursing. The school had a steady increase in its male nurse population and peaked at 30 percent in 2004, but today is around 10 percent.
“It is sort of surprising because we thought there would be more males if the job market changed,” said Dr. Mary Lewis, head of the nursing program at Edison State College. “It could be that it wavers back and forth.”
The number of males at Edison State College has fallen, she said, but also the average age of students has dropped. It used to be 35 years old but now it is between 26 and 30, she said.
According to Pam Nulman, spokesperson for Edison State College, there are 40 students graduating from the nursing program this week and four are males.
“That has been running fairly consistent the last few years,” she said.
The university is opening a new building for its nursing bachelor’s program in the fall of 2010. Edison State will offer a bachelors of science in nursing in 2009. While it has enough room for 100 students, Nulman said that 150 have already shown interest.