By Laura Acosta | Picture by Josh Garcia
The number of men enrolled at The University of Texas at El Paso’s School of Nursing in spring 2012 was double the national average for male nursing students. According to the 2011 annual report from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, men made up 11.4 percent of bachelor’s nursing programs and 9.5 percent of master’s programs. Approximately 22 percent of the students enrolled in UTEP’s undergraduate nursing programs were male in spring 2012, and 21 percent of the graduate students were male.
Kenneth Trey Stice, who graduated from UTEP’s Accelerated Fast Track Bachelor of Science in nursing program in May, said he didn’t have any reservations about becoming a nurse. “I actually didn’t even think about it until it was pointed out to me in the first few classes about how many males are coming into the field,” Stice said.
Once considered a “women’s profession,” male nurses are becoming more common in the workforce. The National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses conducted in 2008 estimated that 6.6 percent out of 3.1 million registered nurses were men. The survey is published every four years by the Health Resources and Services Administration. “When you see the interaction between male and female nurses on the hospital floor, it’s such a good combination,” Stice said. “Each gender brings in so many attributes like stability, leadership and positivity.”
When UTEP School of Nursing Dean Elias Provencio- Vasquez, Ph.D., enrolled in nursing school in the late 1970s, only two men were in his class. Since then, Provencio-Vasquez has become the first Hispanic man in the country to earn a doctoral degree in nursing, and in 2009 he became the first Hispanic man in the nation to become dean of a nursing school. “Nursing is appealing to more men because it is a highly respected profession with the opportunity to help others,” Provencio-Vasquez said. “It also offers great job security, pay and benefits.”
Pedro Ramon, assistant dean for undergraduate education, said the school educates future nurses who are committed to the profession, whether they are male or female. Even though nursing pays well, it requires nurses to be compassionate and understanding, and to become emotionally involved with their patients. “Although it is demanding emotionally and physically, people who go into nursing for the right reasons have a high level of satisfaction because they know they’re exerting changes,” Ramon said. “They’re helping people, and the population is healthier and better for it in that the quality of care that is being provided is compassionate and caring.”