Tripp Craven probably had walked past the Margaret C. Moore Building near Tate Street thousands of times through the years.

That’s where the School of Nursing at UNC-Greensboro is housed. And that’s where Craven spends much of his time these days. Craven has worked in health care for 17 years, and much of what he’s been doing has been similar to nursing. As a clinical assistant with Cone Health, some of his duties include helping to triage patients. Yet, he never pursued a nursing degree. Until now.

Craven is among a growing percentage of men who are entering the field of nursing.

The Center for Interdisciplinary Health Workforce Studies Publications & Data released a report last year indicating that the percentage of male (full time equivalent) nurses has remained steady at 11 percent over the past five years, which shows the percentage of male nurses has grown proportionally to that of the entire R.N. workforce. Data also show that the proportion of associate’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees in nursing awarded to men has doubled from 6.6 percent in 1984 to 13 percent in 2015.

The U.S. Census also shows that male representation has increased significantly over the past decades, as the demand for nurses has increased. A study released in 2013, Men in Nursing Occupations, shows the proportion of male registered nurses has more than tripled since 1970, from 2.7 percent to 9.6 percent. The study also reveals that the proportion of male licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses more than doubled from 3.9 percent to 8.1 percent.

Susan Letvak, professor and director of the Pre-licensure BSN Program at UNC-Greensboro, confirms that male representation in the program has increased greatly over the past few years. The university doesn’t recruit nursing candidates because there are four times the number of qualified applicants as there are seats, Letvak says. But one way that they’ve increased male representation is through the Veterans Access Program, which she directs. She says the university does actively recruit medically trained veterans into a specialized program, which is outside of the traditional BSN program.

Although there are more men entering the nursing field, the workforce is still predominantly female. Of the 120 students in Craven’s class, 24 are men. Letvak says just 19 of the 122 nursing seniors this year are men.

In 2011, 9 percent of all nurses were men, while 91 percent were women. Male representation was highest among nurse anesthetists at 41 percent.

Craven has always been drawn to the anatomy. His earned his first degree in anthropology, with a minor in chemistry in 1998. He was particularly interested in biological anthropology. He also became interested in how people live with chronic illnesses and how it impacts their daily lives.

He became an emergency medical technician in 2001, and he has been working in medical clinics, hospitals and doctors’ offices since.

He describes his decision to become a nurse as a “circuitous, but lateral entry into nursing.” When Craven becomes a nurse in 2019, he says, he’ll be able to help more people in more ways.

“As I’m learning more about nursing theory and practice, a lot of what I’ve been doing for a long time has been nursing,” he says. “The philosophy of it. The motivating philosophy and working collaboratively in a health care team. I’ve already been doing this.”

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