Campus Life

Nursing a viable career path for men

Changing long-entrenched attitudes can often be a slow and gradual process. Peter Kellett, an academic assistant in the University of Lethbridge's Nursing program, is attempting to give that process a nudge.

Kellett and the Faculty of Health Sciences will present a Men in Nursing Recruitment Day, Feb. 13, as they try and show men that nursing is not only a viable career option but it should be a desirable one as well.

"The primary challenge of attracting men to nursing is the general public views nursing as a woman's profession," Kellett, a nurse for 14 years, says. "What I'm really hoping to do with this day is to help men realize that this is not just a profession for women."

Drawn to nursing because of an interest in the medical field and a mother who worked as a nurse, Kellett says there are many false impressions about the profession that seem to steer men away.

"I think one of the misconceptions is that nursing is somehow a lower profession and it is not. It's very much a dynamic and challenging career and very worthwhile to be part of — you make a difference every day," Kellett says. "I had considered other health-care professions but what attracted me to nursing is that nurses are the people who have a long-term relationship with the patients. I think the bond between nurse and patient is like no other in the health-care field."

While the number of male nurses is growing in Canada, with men accounting for just six per cent of all nurses, there's much room for improvement. Now is also the perfect time to get into the field, Kellett explains. With many nurses from the baby boomer era expected to retire in the coming years, he cites the Canadian Nurses Association as predicting a shortfall of 113,000 registered nurses by 2016.

"In terms of job security, you really can't ask for much better."

The U of L, and its partner Lethbridge College, will help satisfy some of that need with a pair of program offerings. Currently, the Nursing Education in Southwestern Alberta (NESA) program is available as a four-year baccalaureate program in conjunction with Lethbridge College. Its numbers have steadily been on the rise in recent years with more than 172 first-year students currently enrolled (with 564 in the entire four-year program).

New to the University in the fall is an after-degree program that will accept initially a class of 35 students. This is for those who already have a degree and who meet the inherent prerequisites. Offered in an accelerated format, it consists of six consecutive semesters.

"It's very demanding but you could train to be a nurse in two years," Kellett says. "From the point of view of getting through education and getting into the workforce, it is a very attractive option for some people."

Kellett is testimony to the many avenues nursing can take people. He says training as a generalist in the health-care field opens innumerable doors and offers a diversity within a career that is entirely unique. In his 14 years as a nurse, he's held positions in Newfoundland, Texas, northern Manitoba and southern Alberta, working on surgical floors, at remote nursing stations, as a primary health-care manager, in the emergency room and now as an instructor.

Given all that, at the end of the day, it's mostly about connecting with people.

"If you want to have a job where you have the potential to make a difference in people's lives every day, nursing is a great option," he says.


• Kellett earned his bachelor of nursing degree from Memorial University in St. John's, Nlfd. and is currently working on a master's degree from Memorial

• The Feb. 13 Men in Nursing Recruitment Day runs 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Morning sessions are being held in AH117 with the afternoon sessions in the Nursing Skills Lab, PE040

• As of April 1, 2009 a first-year Registered Nurse in Alberta will earn $32.34/hour before educational adjustments or shift differentials (approximately $60,000/year, if working full-time)

• For more information on the U of L's nursing programs, see the Faculty of Health Sciences website (