Objective: This paper aims to provide an account of the first phase of a qualitative longitudinal study that explored the initial challenges men in nursing face to become registered. What is known is that men, a minority group within nursing, face the usual challenges of all new nurses in their quest to register as nurses. In addition, they have added pressures that hinder their quest due to being male.

Primary Argument: An Australian nursing shortage is looming due to nurses retiring from this female-dominate profession. Hence, the retention of men in nursing is an area requiring attention in order to support a sustainable workforce.

Subjects and Setting: Nine newly graduated male registered nurses participated. These nurses had recently commenced employment in the Western Australian metropolitan health region.

Findings: Individual face-to-face interviews produced the theme of role misconception with a major focus on male or nurse what comes first. This theme was derived from the categories of gender stereotyping and marginalisation.

Conclusion: This study suggests the need for a gender-neutral image when promoting nursing within and outside the professional environment. Furthermore, consideration for a professional title mutually accepted by both women and men in nursing, with the gender-neutral ‘nurse’ title preferred by the men in this study. Moreover to acknowledge that men in nursing will augment a technical savvy workforce that will complement emergent complex nursing practices, and enhance a more comprehensive Australian nursing workforce that will assist with meeting the health care needs of a diverse population.


male nurse, intimate touch, nurse image, marginalisation, role misconceptions


This article originally published: -

Juliff, D., Russell, K., and Bulsara, C. (2016) Male or Nurse what comes first? Challenges men face on their journey to nurse registration. Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing, 34(2): 45-52.

Reprinted with permission of AJAN (Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing.

Link to Publisher Version (URL)


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