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More Men Opting For Nursing Careers

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — When you are at the hospital or doctor's office and a nurse comes in the room, do you expect to see a man or woman?

When John Worsham makes his hospital rounds, some of his patients are surprised to learn he is a nurse.

"I'll have people that are really excited about it, then I have other people who are kind of unsure about it," he said."They'll ask me when I'm going back to med school."

Even though nursing is still dominated by women, more men are becoming RNs. Today, nearly 5.5 percent of nurses are men. In 1980, only 2.7 percent of nurses were male.

At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing, 8 percent of students are men. At Duke University 11 percent of nursing students are male.

Richard Redman, an associate dean at UNC's nursing school, was a nurse in the 1960s.

"I think nursing was viewed as women's work. Most nurses were women," he said.

That is no longer the case.

"The old stereotype of the nurse sitting by the patient's bedside with the hand on the feverish brow is long gone. It's a high- tech environment that requires someone who's well prepared with a strong background in science," Redmond said.

Men are typically drawn to critical care positions like surgery and the emergency department.

"They like the idea of being able to work in those intense situations," Worsham said.

Worham also likes being able to spend more time with patients and the fact that he was practically guaranteeda job.

He said he is set in a career he plans on sticking with for a long time.

"I think it's definitely more than I thought it would be," Worsham said.

To recruit more men, nursing schools send male and female nurses to career fairs. If a man inquires about the nursing program at UNC, a male student or faculty member follows up.