Why we need more male nurses in Australia

Post by Open Colleges on June 2nd, 2020

How many men work as Registered Nurses in Australia?

89% of Registered Nurses in Australia are women. That means that only 11% are men.¹ When it comes to Enrolled Nurses, 10% are men.²

The healthcare industry in Australia is growing rapidly. It’s expected that there will be around 26,300people employed as Enrolled Nurses by 2023. And if the rates of qualified male Enrolled Nurses don’t increase, it means that by 2023 there will only be around 2360 male Enrolled Nurses employed around the country.

When it comes to Nursing Support and Personal Care Workers, the figures are a little different, with 22% of the workforce being male.³ This is still quite a low figure, however.

Why aren’t there more male nurses?

Part of the reason could be ingrained stereotypes about the nursing profession. It’s typically seen as a ‘female’ profession, and there are still many prejudices and stereotypes that exist in Australia.

These stereotypes affect both men and women in nursing roles. Women are thought to be ‘natural carers’ and so more suited for a role in healthcare. But this outdated stereotype doesn’t work in today’s modern society. It’s a damaging stereotype for both genders, as it assumes that if women are more caring than men, then men must be less caring and less nurturing towards their patients.

Whether you are the correct fit for the job has nothing to do with gender and everything to do with your personality, skills and work ethic.

One of the most important things to take away from this is that if we are going to work towards complete gender equality in Australia, then we need to start by breaking down outdated stereotypes that affect us all.

Why is it important to have more male nurses?

By 2030, it’s predicted that there will be a severe nursing shortage, particularly in New South Wales.

In 2018, the ABC published an article that suggested there would be a shortfall by 2030 of both Enrolled Nurses and Registered Nurses.⁴

The article suggested that the workforce in NSW would amount to only 7500 Enrolled Nurses, but this would be far less than the forecasted demand of 13,000.

To fill this gap, it is imperative that both men and women begin training now to enter the field as qualified professionals ready to step into roles in the healthcare system.

We also know that having a diverse and inclusive workforce means that you get a variety of different perspectives on things, which can lead to new and creative ways of thinking and problem solving. Having a diverse workforce also means that all customers (or in this case, patients) are looked after appropriately.

Just like how some female patients may prefer a female nurse, male patients may prefer a male nurse. This could be for a number of reasons, including cultural reasons. Having a nurse of the same gender can often help patients feel more comfortable while they are undergoing what could be a very stressful time. But if male nurse numbers remain low, this will not be possible. 

Are you ready to become an Enrolled Nurse?

Healthcare workers are one of the most valued and trusted professions in Australia. After seeing such acts of courage and selflessness during the COVID-19 pandemic, this is more true than ever.

If you’re ready to follow a rewarding and fulfilling career in the healthcare industry as an Enrolled Nurse, then take a look at Open Colleges’ HLT54115 Diploma of Nursing. This is a blended learning course, which means that it takes place online and at our South Australia- and Western Australia-based campuses. This way, you get the flexibility of online learning combined with real, hands-on experience.

The Diploma of Nursing can also act as a pathway to university if you were looking to continue you studies and become a Registered Nurse.

What are you waiting for? There are plenty of opportunities out there for determined people looking to make a difference. The first step starts right here.


  1. Australian Government Job Outlook, “Registered Nurses”, www.joboutlook.gov.au.
  2. Australian Government Job Outlook, “Enrolled Nurses and Mothercraft Nurses”, www.joboutlook.gov.au.
  3. Australian Government Job Outlook, “Nursing Support and Personal Care Workers”, www.joboutlook.gov.au.
  4. ABC, Kathleen Calderwood and Greg Miskelly,
  5. January 2018, “NSW needs nurses as ‘catastrophic’ shortage predicted to affect patient care”, www.abc.net.au.
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