I’ve seen several good things coming out of UT Austin, and more good things out of Texas generally (although of course no state is perfect). Add this to the list: UT Austin’s dean for the School of Nursing Alexa Stuifbergen is actively reaching out to male students and encouraging them to sign up.
This recent article gives us one of a series of interviews between The Daily Texan and Dr. Stuifbergen. Here’s an excerpt:
Stuifbergen: There’s a constant demand for healthcare professionals, and so there’s a great need. With nurse practitioners, they are becoming more and more desirable … People like to have nurse practitioners take care of them because they get a slightly different kind of care. I think people are really coming to recognize the important role that nurses play.
The sick and the dying will always be with us, which means there will always be a need to take care of them. That’s job security. You don’t see huge layoffs with nurses like you do in other professions. Also, nursing pays decently relative to the cost of schooling.
Stuifbergen: That’s always a challenge in nursing. The number of male students in nursing programs around the country is pretty stable at around 5 to 10 percent. It is a greater problem in faculty recruitment, partly because that [percentage] is a small number to recruit from, and many of them are not choosing to go into nursing education. So we actively recruit to enhance the diversity of our faculty at all times because we think it’s important for our students to have faculty that reflect the diversity of our student body, which is getting much better.
Another program that has been getting better at recruiting men is our alternate-entry master’s program, because we do get men from other professions. Last year, the president of our undergraduate students’ association was male, and he did a great recruiting video that is going out to high schools around Central Texas. And so I think that sort of thing really helps recruit male students, too
Here again, we see the need for men to be able to see how other men navigate these kinds of female-dominant environments. I would love to see the video, but I was unable to get a hold of it.
The only thing that bugs me about getting more men into female-dominated fields in an educational environment is that in the event of any kind of conflict over protocol, women are given a nuclear option of resolving the dispute by other methods – namely, making false accusations of harassment or assault.
And while there is a strong systemic push to crack down on men for bad behavior, there is no strong push in academia to crack down on women for theirs. This isn’t to knock UT Austin’s nursing program, but it’s something that academia in general simply need to be aware of and find some method of resolution for.
I’m also going to plug UT Austin’s Longhorn Association for Men in Nursing. From their website:
In order to accomplish these goals, we discuss issues pertinent to men in nursing as well as host speakers with expertise in fields of nursing of particular interest to men to encourage men to consider nursing as a career. Some of these include nurses in critical care, the emergency department, nurse anesthesia, military, academia, and various others advanced practice nurses. We also organize social and volunteer events as a way of providing fun and educational experiences to help build technical, networking, and leadership skills.
This is exactly the kind of thing we need more of in higher ed. Also, it’s one more thing that makes me glad to live in Texas.