Did you know that around the turn of the last millenium, women weren't allowed into nursing? That's according to this post on allnurses.com, anyway. In fact, that post has a pretty interesting timeline of the history of men in nursing.
The first nursing school, according to the article/post, was founded around 250 B.C. and was exclusively for men because women were considered to be not pure enough.
this Medscape article, nursing schools for men were relatively common in America around 1900. In just 30 years, the percentage of nurses who happen to be dudes dropped down to less than 1%.
So, what's the reason for this? Well, there are a few theories. One, talked about in this article, posits that men found "other, more lucrative occupations" and, slowly, left the field. I'm not sold on this, however.
Personally, I'm more apt to believe the theory set forth in the previously mentioned Medscape article. The hero of nursing, Florence Nightingale, lobbied women to take up the call to care for the sick and injured. Also, she lobbied governments to make it more difficult for men to become nurses, saying that men were "not suited to nursing." She is actually pretty well known as one of the reasons for the downfall of men in nursing. Lots of nurses don't know about this, though, because "Flo" is always so strongly doted on as a hero for the profession. I suppose she is, but she sure made it difficult for dudes.
|Graduating class of 1899 from Victoria General Hospital, Halifax, Nova Scotia|
(from this Medscape article)
It's a long, slow climb, but we're getting there. Nursing went from being the doman of men only to becoming known as "women's work." It's taking a while, but we're working on swinging that pendulum back towards the middle of the spectrum.