THE future of NHS nursing in Scotland will become untenable unless more men join the ranks, a leading academic has claimed.

Currently less than 10 per cent of students and applicants to nursing courses are men.

Dr Anna Gavine, from the University of Dundee, said that by having such a low number of men in the nursing profession the NHS was “essentially losing almost half the talent pool”.

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“At a time when the NHS is facing more challenges than ever, relying on only half the population is untenable,” she said.

Herald View: Men have a role to play in solving nursing staff crisis

Dr Gavine, who is a research fellow from the institution’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences, said that outdated views about men and women’s role in society, as well as a lack of role models, contributed to the low numbers of male applicants.

She said: “Often when people think of a nurse, they automatically think of a woman and that could be due to stereotyping and outdated views of what a nurse actually does in their job.

“We used to perceive the situation as being a female nurse helping a male doctor and now that’s really not the case.

“More women are going into medicine than ever, and nursing roles also involve a lot more autonomy so it’s a very different picture now.”

Herald View: Men have a role to play in solving nursing staff crisis

She added: “From speaking to male nurses and male nursing students, we know that having a positive male nurse role model makes them more likely to consider nursing as a career.

“So given the low numbers of male nurses, many men don’t see other men working in this role which can re-enforce the stereotype. Other factors like peer pressure and careers advice may also play a role.”

Today, a number of male nurses and staff from Ninewells Hospital and Medical School will be at an information stall at the Overgate shopping centre in Dundee to offer advice and share their experiences under the banner #MenDoCare.

Dr Gavine said they wanted to speak to men who may not have considered nursing as a “rewarding and dynamic” profession.

Herald View: Men have a role to play in solving nursing staff crisis

She said: “I think we need people to see the huge variety in nursing roles that are now available and increase the visibility of male nurses. I think also getting into schools early and encouraging boys to think about nursing as career would be really helpful.

“Men also have characteristics and attributes that can have a real positive impact for their patients.

“For some patients, in particular male patients, it can be hugely beneficial to be given the choice to be treated by a male.

“It’s important for healthcare providers to represent the people they care for so we need more gender diversity to achieve this.”

Targets have been set for Scottish colleges to have no subjects with more than 75 per cent of students from one gender by 2030.

Herald View: Men have a role to play in solving nursing staff crisis

However, figures from earlier this year show that five out of 18 subject areas are currently missing the requirement.

Men still dominate the subjects of nautical studies, construction and engineering, while women dominate hairdressing and beauty and care-related subjects.