Why Dads Should Become Nurses

RAK Editor Monique Seleen’s husband, Chris Seleen, BSN, RN, Oncology Stem Cell Transplant Nurse.

My husband comes from a family of nurses—his mom is a nurse and his older brother is a nurse practitioner—so it wasn’t a surprise when he decided to go back to school to become a nurse also.

At the time, we did not have kids yet, but already it felt like having a nurse for a husband had its benefits: You have a built-in caretaker when you’re sick, it’s a well-paying, stable job with good healthcare benefits, and there’s just something about a man in scrubs…

Flash forward to when we became parents and I’ve grown to love my husband’s nursing career even more. While he’s not a pediatric nurse, it’s comforting to know he has CPR training, understands all the medical jargon when we go to doctor’s appointments, is calm under pressure—especially any scary illness-related incidents,  not to mention he can handle the sight and smell of bodily fluids a lot better than I can!

While more males are starting to enter the nursing field, it’s still seemingly a female-dominated career—but it shouldn’t be so unbalanced.

We talked with Dr. Andy Nydegger, Senior Director of Campus Development for Arizona College of Nursing, a nurse, and father of two, on some of the many reasons why dads make great nurses:

What are some reasons why nursing can be a promising career for dads? 

I became a nurse after years of service in the US Air Force. When it was time to pick a new career, I wanted to do something that my kids would be proud of. Saving lives and caring for patients and their health is an honorable profession.

But I also want to be present for my kids. Most nurses do not bring their work home with them. When they are off work, they can give their families the attention they need. I believe time, positive role modeling, and attention are the three most important things a dad can give their kids.

Finally, nursing is an economy-proof job. No matter the state of the economy, there will always be a need for nurses. Dads, or potential dads, looking for a steady career can find it in nursing. This is a significant motivating factor for my Arizona College of Nursing students.

Some have suffered from economic downturns and don’t want to be stuck, unable to provide for their family.

How can the flexibility of nursing schedules (three 12-hour shifts) benefit busy families?

Nursing is one of the most flexible jobs in the world. Being a nurse means you can make a great living and meet your family’s needs. I love that I can work pretty much anywhere and anytime. This is an especially important consideration for modern dads. Being a nurse allows you to support the needs of your kids, whether you are the sole provider or arranging a schedule with your partner. It also means you can work anywhere. Nurses are needed all over the world. You can move to accommodate your partner’s needs or to get your kids into the best school.

How can men be naturally empathetic, kind caretakers (especially as dads), and how that can be transferable to a nursing career? 

My experience has been that male nurses genuinely care about their patients and strive to give them the best care possible. I think the most important way to show my patients that I care is to listen to them. They are often scared and vulnerable. They want someone to talk to. Male nurses can be that trusted ear to listen to them.

Those same skills are also important at home. Being a dad requires listening to your kids and ensuring they feel cared for. Children and teenagers often encounter situations that make them scared and vulnerable. It’s our job as parents to help them feel safe and navigate difficult situations. There are many parallels between parenting and nursing.

What are the trends/stats around men in nursing and the need for more male nurses in the (local) community?

Historically nursing has been a dominant female profession, but more men are joining nursing. Men comprise 9-11% of the nursing workforce, and that number is growing. Arizona trends along the national average. At Arizona College of Nursing, we are seeing more gender diversity in nursing. It is a fantastic thing to see.

When I first started nursing school, I was told by a professor that men shouldn’t be allowed to be nurses. This statement made me sad and I was determined to prove them wrong. Diversity of background and experience is vital for the nursing profession. Male nurses add to the story and fabric of nursing.

About Dr. Andy Nydegger

Andrew Nydegger, DNP, MSN-Ed, RN, CNE, is the Senior Director of Campus Development for Arizona College of Nursing. Andy is a proud nurse of more than 12 years who is passionate about helping student nurses succeed.

Prior to becoming a nurse, Andy served in the US Air Force. During his service, he became very ill. Due to the incredible healthcare workers and the high-quality care that he received, he was inspired to become a nurse.  He was excited to join a profession where he could impact peoples’ lives for the better.

Andy graduated with a BSN from the University of Utah and shortly after licensing, found a desire to teach. After attaining a Master’s degree in Nursing Education, Andy spent several years teaching and learning everything he could about Nursing. As he learned, he was given opportunities to lead and after, he obtained his Doctor of Nursing Practice in administration and leadership.

One of Andy’s favorite parts of being a nurse is the opportunity to advocate for the profession.  He currently serves on the board of the American Nurses Association. At home, Andy loves spending time with his wife and two kids. They enjoy traveling, art, music, and sports.