The University is recruiting students to join the first-ever on-campus student organization for men in nursing.
The GW chapter of the American Association for Men in Nursing launched earlier this semester in an effort to break down the gender stereotypes within the profession and support men in nursing, chapter leaders said. Members will complete community service, engage high school students in the nursing profession and host events related to stereotypes in the nursing field, officials said.
Almost 90 percent of students in the nursing school were female in 2016, according to institutional data.
Jess Calohan, the faculty adviser to the AAMN GW chapter, said men represent about 10 to 12 percent of the profession in the civilian sector. He said the GW chapter is in its early stages, and there are currently six executive board members, one of which is a female.
“This is an opportunity for us to teach them strategies of how to better communicate with each other and also with other nurses,” Calohan said. “It’s an all-inclusive type of environment and not just limited to male membership.”
AAMN is a national organization with 46 chapters in the United States. Nursing schools have struggled with recruiting men for nursing programs because of gender stereotypes, but groups like AAMN work to decrease the gap between the number of males and females in the nursing profession, according to the group’s website.
Calohan said the group will host professional development and support activities for students. He said the chapter will work to give back to the community by volunteering at homeless shelters and helping with high school physicals.
He said the chapter is still creating its mission and vision. The group has not had its first membership meeting yet but plans to host one later this semester, though members hope to recruit more members in the meantime through a Facebook page, he said.
“We’re really in the infancy of this organization, kind of establishing what role we’re going to play in the nursing school,” Calohan said.
Preston Volman, a second-semester nursing student and the president of GW’s AAMN chapter, said the first meeting will be open to all students and will be held by the end of the fall semester. He said the meeting will be announced through a weekly newsletter for nursing students and the school’s events calendar.
“While we are still trying to find our niche on campus, the group is seeking members who are passionate about destigmatizing the nursing profession as a female-only profession and promoting the inclusivity of the profession,” he said.
Volman said the chapter hopes to host weekly meetings to provide students with opportunities to network and share their experiences with their involvement in the “incredibly fast-paced” nursing program.
“Any student who feels they are struggling with either the transition to this rapid-paced program or just getting a feel for what is most of interest to them as a professional is encouraged to reach out to the GWU AAMN chapter as a source of camaraderie and collaboration during their time in the nursing program and after,” Volman said in an email.
Volman said the chapter will also offer opportunities for students to mentor their peers if they are interested in learning about specific areas of nursing.
“We hope to give people a glimpse of non-discriminatory and satisfying careers that both women and men can hold in nursing,” he said.
University spokesman Tim Pierce said preliminary meetings were held over the summer to gauge student interest, and the chapter officially launched this semester.
“By creating an inclusive environment for this minority population within the nursing profession, it reduces any stigma that may be felt and encourages more people to come into the profession and grow a workforce facing shortage issues,” he said.
Pierce said the chapter will hold meetings on topics related to men in the nursing profession, host local events and speakers and attend national events.
David Keepnews, a professor of nursing, said the chapter will reach out to other academic populations, like high school students, as they consider their career options – which will help students see nursing as a health care profession for everyone regardless of gender.
Keepnews said all nurses need to be caring and compassionate, but there is often a stereotype that these are “female” traits, and this attitude excludes men from joining the profession.
“It’s a stereotype that harms both women and men,” Keepnews said in an email. “To the extent that men have accepted or even internalized those views, it has kept many men from choosing nursing, but that continues to change.”