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Keywords:

  • Israel;
  • male nurses;
  • nursing profession;
  • occupational choice;
  • personal motives;
  • social motivation

Aim  This paper intends to explore what leads Israeli men to choose nursing as their profession.

Background  In the early years of nursing education in Israel, like in other western societies, men were excluded from the profession. Shortage in nursing personnel and urgent needs led to recruitment of men into the profession for a short period of time. Only since the early 1990s the nursing profession is experiencing a gradual but steady influx of men. Yet, nursing is generally perceived as women's work, and men have to cope with the stereotypes attributed to them as a prominent minority in a profession primarily occupied by women. Currently, no study had examined who are the Israeli men who are willing to enter the profession and why.

Methods  A 52-item questionnaire was distributed among all registered female and male nurses in three general and three psychiatric hospitals during 1997–98. The questionnaire covered sociodemographic characteristics, exposure to the profession and reasons for choosing the profession. The response rate of 74% included 123 male and 137 female registered nurses.

Conclusions  Early exposure to the profession and the fact that the majority of male nurses belong to ethnic minorities and recent immigrants to the Israeli society were the most prominent factors in the selection of the nursing profession by these men. Surprisingly, economic considerations did not constitute a compelling motive in this population.