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INSIDE BINGHAMTON UNIVERSITY

Decker’s male enrollment tops national average.

By : Cait Anastis

While nursing remains a field dominated by women, men are becoming a larger part of the picture, especially on the Binghamton University campus. While 8 percent of students enrolled in four-year nursing programs nationally are male, at Binghamton they account for 11 percent of the Decker School of Nursing’s enrollment. In the school’s Baccalaureate Accelerated Track (BAT) program, 16 percent of the students are male, said Fran Srnka-Debnar, student services coordinator.

One factor attracting men to the school is the attitude of the people working there, said Thomas Simons, a clinical instructor in the program.

“I think probably the number one reason is that the entire faculty and administration are receptive to men in nursing and that’s not always the case with every school of nursing,” he said.

While attitudes about men in nursing may be changing, Simons said, in some cases men may still encounter “old school” attitudes when entering the profession, even from nursing educators. At Decker, male students have been featured prominently on the school’s Web page and are welcomed during the admissions process. Last year, a student group for men in the program was formed to provide additional support. The group now has about 25 members.

While Srnka-Debnar couldn’t pinpoint one specific reason that male students are drawn to the Decker School, she said that there are a number of factors why male students opt to enter the program. In addition to the welcoming attitude of faculty and staff, economic considerations, job security and the opportunity to make a difference on the job contribute to the choice to study nursing for many men.

While the school’s BAT program targets those returning to school to pursue a second degree, many of the male students in the traditional program also already have degrees in another field.

“Sometimes the choice was forced, because they lost a job,” Srnka-Debnar said. “Sometimes it’s a life-changing event. I’ve heard prospective students say that they want to do something that makes a difference. They focused on money before.”

Binghamton’s proximity to New York City may also play a role in the decision to study nursing.

“We saw a large increase after 9-11 of people wanting to get into human services areas,” Simons said.

One of the school’s male students was pursuing a medical degree when he took a job as a nurse’s aide for the experience, Srnka-Debnar said. The student discovered that he really liked what he saw the nurses doing and wanted the long-term contact with patients that doctors don’t have, so he changed career paths and transferred to Binghamton.

“The other attractive thing, depending on where you choose to go with your career,” Simons said, “is that there is a lot of autonomy once you become an experienced nurse, and I think that is very appealing to men.”
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Last Updated: 10/14/08