James Madison University

More Male Students Choosing Nursing

March 29, 2013

The number of male nurses in the United States has tripled since 1970. While the profession is still predominantly female, the JMU nursing program is hoping to inspire more men to choose nursing as a career.  Currently there are eighteen male students enrolled in the program.  Undergraduate program director Dr. Cynthia Rubenstein says, “Within the nursing profession and here at JMU, men enrolled in nursing are well received, respected and supported in their career choice.”

Sophomore Justin Falls encountered nothing but support from his friends and family when he decided to return to college to pursue a nursing degree after working for eight years as a photojournalist. Falls says, “I wanted a job where I could provide direct help to people and the community.  Nursing also seemed like a sustainable career choice for my future.”  Falls is currently working on his prerequisite courses and awaiting formal admission to the program.

While Falls’ path to nursing did not follow that of a traditional undergraduate student, senior Eric Croucher came to JMU as a freshman knowing that he wanted to pursue nursing. “I wanted a job that worked with people daily and was beneficial to the community.  I don’t feel that there is any other job that hits these two ideals the way that nursing does!”  Senior transfer student Quin Sweeney echoed those sentiments, “I transferred from UNC-Wilmington with the intention of trying to get into the JMU nursing program. I love the patient and nurse interaction, and JMU has a phenomenal program.”

The strength of the program is what first attracted senior Richard Kirchgessner to nursing.  “I have always wanted to work in a medical profession”, Kirchgessner said.  He started out his freshman year at JMU as a health sciences major, but by the middle of his second semester, he felt a call to change his major to nursing. The high level of direct patient contact and clinical experiences required by the program were appealing to Kirchgessner. In JMU’s nursing program, students receive 700 hours of direct patient contact in various clinical settings such as psychiatric, pediatrics and different surgical units.  He said, “Nursing is such a diverse field.  I know I can get a good job with my bachelor’s degree while I save money and plan for a graduate program, possibly Nurse Anesthetist.”

JMU’s nursing faculty are credited with creating a learning environment that contributes to the success of these male nursing students.  Sweeney remarked, “[My professors] have all been fantastic.  JMU is extremely lucky because we have a crop of extremely passionate nursing professors.  They will do close to anything to help you succeed.”

The success and excellence of JMU nursing students has been recognized year after year by the Virginia Student Nurses Association (VSNA).  In addition to multiple association awards and honors for JMU students, Croucher was recently elected as president of the VSNA.  “Being president of the VSNA is another way I can reach out and be involved in my first professional [nursing] organization.  I had so much faculty and peer support and this is a great way to represent JMU,” Croucher said.

Looking toward the future, the nursing program at JMU hopes to attract a growing number of male students to the program.  Rubenstein says, “The delivery of nursing care and the skill set necessary for the science and profession is not gender-based.  Nursing is a profession that should appeal equally to men and women.” Croucher has this advice for other men considering the nursing profession, “Talk to other men in the program… and study hard and work hard because nursing school isn’t easy!”