Aim. The aim of this paper is to report a study to: (a) explore Taiwanese male nurses’ motivations for becoming a nurse; (b) reveal their professional developmental process in nursing; (c) understand the difficulties hindering their professional development from both professional and gender aspects; and (d) identify the strategies they use to cope with these difficulties.
Background. Hindered by historical, cultural, economic and warfare factors, the proportion of male nurses in Taiwan remains low. Taiwanese male nurses’ career development process has not been well investigated yet.
Methods. A descriptive qualitative research design was used, with a convenience sample of 15 male nurses (mean age 30·8 years) with a Bachelor's degree in Nursing Science. Data were collected by semi-structured interviews and analysed by content analysis.
Results. Taiwanese male nurses’ entrance into the nursing profession involved three phases: pre-study, study and employment. The difficulties encountered during career development were related to the gender expectations of patients and the general public. The nurses received support more from superiors than from colleagues. The strategies they used included (a) improving their professional knowledge and skills to obtain higher levels of satisfaction and better opportunities for promotion; (b) thinking aggressively about job promotion; (c) choosing specialist departments as appropriate environments for graduate study and personal growth; and (d) changing their professional track for personal growth.
Conclusions. Based on the nature of nursing work and clinical experiences, Taiwanese male nurses believed that nursing was a profession suitable for both men and women. Their preparation for career development started at the pre-study phase. The major strategies they used were related to a strong desire for personal growth and professional promotion. Finally, a conceptual framework was developed to depict this complex phenomenon.