At the frontline of patient care, nurses serve as advocates for a diverse population every day, prompting a need to build a nursing workforce that mirrors the variety of patients it serves. Leading this demand for diversity is the staggering gender gap among registered nurses, with 88.6 percent of nurses being female according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 
A leading advocate for closing the gender gap in nursing is West Coast University (WCU), recognized in 2018 as one of the American Association of Men in Nursing’s (AAMN) Best Schools for Men In Nursing. 
In response to AAMN’s 20 x 20 Choose Nursing initiative to increase the enrollment of men in nursing programs to 20 percent nationally by the year 2020, WCU has been focused on fostering gender diversity at the university level through a supportive educational environment.
“Gender inequity is both a challenge and an opportunity in the health workforce,” said Dr. Claudette Spalding, Dean of Nursing at WCU Miami campus. “A diverse nursing workforce is essential for progress toward health equity. Male nurses bring balance to the profession, benefiting patients as a whole.”
WCU inspires and supports men of all ages and backgrounds to honor their calling to become nurses and leaders in healthcare through events and career service resources. The university also educates its faculty, students, and the community about the contributions men have and the many career options available for their unique interests and strengths.
A key driver of the gender diversity initiative at WCU Miami is the annual Men In Nursing event, bringing together current and prospective students, community leaders, alumni, hospital executives, and employers to discuss current trends and practices in the industry and allow students to ask questions and network with a variety of male leaders in the industry.
“As we do with all students, we connect male students with alumni to obtain not only valuable feedback for success in their nursing careers but also mentorship from male leaders in the local healthcare community,” said Georgetta Railic, Director of Career Services at WCU’s Miami campus.
By providing resources and networking opportunities at the university level, WCU students are well-equipped to ensure a balanced diversity in the workforce by the time they graduate, as well as contribute to the improvement of patient care for men.
“As we have seen with female patients preferring to be cared for by a female nurse or doctor, then maybe males may also prefer to be cared for by someone of the same sex,” added Dr. Spalding.
While there are still more women than men in nursing, gender diversity among nurses has improved significantly. Men currently make up 11.4 percent of registered nurses, an increase from the 2.7 percent of male RNs in 1970, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. 
At West Coast University, the male student population in the nursing program has increased 16-fold since 2014. This is a result of the university’s efforts to educate male students about the benefits and opportunities of being a male nurse, despite outdated stereotypes.