Many people think that the field of nursing is only for women, but there are actually many men who go into this field. Men are becoming more and more common throughout this field. Throughout history, men have played an important role in shaping the nursing field. Here are a few of the most historic male nurses.

Gerard Thom, aka Brother Gerard, founded the Hospitallers a group that provided care to the sick and wounded in hospitals. Brother Gerard went on to build seven more hospitals in 15 years, and the group became richer as they continued their mission and began to expand from their hospitals in the Mediterranean to Europe and Jerusalem. The Hospitallers were granted the right to work under an order in the Vatican. They wanted to honor the eight beatitudes by adopting the white, eight-pointed cross as their main symbol. As of today the Knights of Malta, one of the Hospitalers military orders, is still up and running today.

The first African American to practice medicine in the United States was James Derham. He was born as a slave in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His owners were doctors and one of them, Dr. Robert Dove, helped encourage his interest in medicine. 1783, while Derham was working as a nurse, he bought his freedom then opened his own practice and helped patients of any race. In 1802 Derham disappeared and no one knows what became of him.

In the Civil War, Walt Whitman volunteered as a nurse to help injured soldiers during the war. He had originally planned on enlisting in the war but since he was in his forties he was too old and unable to enlist. He was always interested in the human body and was interested in different types of occupation that required physical strength. Whitman often visited New York Hospitals to help boost moral by bringing gifts, writing letters, or making sure everyone was comfortable. Throughout his volunteer work he gained the trust of the doctors and was put in charge of many of the wounded soldiers who were being transferred. Occasionally, Whitman moved from New York to Washington DC and cared for thousands of men in so called “hospitals”. He worked for free at the hospitals, and the little money he got from freelance journalism he used to buy gifts for the wounded.

In 250 BC, the first nursing school was only for men because they were “pure” enough to handle the job. The standards stayed this way for about two millennia until in the 19th and 20th centuries when war was at an all time high. During this period, the thought of nursing as a man's job switched to a profession mostly for women and in 1901 there was a major shift in the nursing field and men were no longer allowed to be nurses. This is changing now though. In 1996, about 5.4% of nurses were men. That number has grown since then. There are many organizations out there to help change the stereotype of nurses being only women, and bringing more men into this particular field. No matter what your gender, getting a degree in nursing does not have to be a challenge and there are online programs and colleges to help you become a nurse, whether you are male or female.