Paul Fedorchak of Bedford, Pennsylvania, was a plant manager for Morton Metal Craft. When the company was bought out and the plant was closed in 2009, he decided to switch careers.
Fedorchak became a registered nurse.
"I always wanted to go into the medical field," he said. "The plant closing was a blessing in disguise."
He qualified for education assistance under the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance that helps trade-affected workers who have lost their jobs as a result of increased imports or shifts in production out of the United States. He was one of eight men in his nursing class. Fedorchak, 40, is now employed by Conemaugh Memorial Hospital in Johnstown and specializes in respiratory patient nursing care.
"They could have put me anywhere and I'd have been fine with it," he said.
Male nurses are becoming increasingly more commonplace. According to a study by the U.S. Census Bureau, in 1970 only 2.7 percent of nurses were male, compared to 9.6 percent today. The male proportion of licensed practical nurses has also increased from 3.9 percent to 8.1 percent in the same time period. The majority of registered nurses, 64 percent, work in hospitals. An equal number of licensed practical nurses work in nursing care facilities or hospitals at 30 percent each.
Zeke Fyock, 20, Windber, is a senior at Conemaugh's nursing school in central Pennsylvania. He is one of about 20 men in a class of 50. He worked several years as a nurse's aide before starting nursing school and continues to work as an aide.
"The demand for nurses is extraordinary right now," he said. "A lot in my family are in health care, including my uncle and my mother who are nurses."
He was always interested in nursing and shadowed his uncle while in high school. That led to some static from some of his friends, but he has learned that many of those who made fun of him are not doing anything now.
"I think that was jealousy because I always had a focus and a career goal," Fyock said. "When you can give care and compassion to people, you brighten their day. This is a great career."
Cathy Lilly, site administrator for Somerset County CareerLink, said while employers can't specify male or female prospective employees when they contact CareerLink, she thinks male nurses are in demand.
"Some employers look for nontraditional type employees because a person who goes into a nontraditional career is showing dedication," she said.
There is quite a demand for employees in the health care field, and not just nurses, Lilly said. Certified nurse assistants and people trained in medical technology are also needed. She knows of several people who had been furloughed from other jobs who have decided to go into the medical field.
"These are careers with a future," she said. "The majority of people, men and women, who go into nursing are truly dedicated. Nursing is a calling."
Male nurses have an advantage over female nurses from the standpoint of having more upper body strength, but lifting patients is more of skill in knowing how to do it then of having upper body strength, Fedorchak said.
"Older women — there's maybe one or two who didn't want me around them because of modesty," he said. "I always tell them if they have a problem because I'm male let me know and I'll get a female nurse. If they don't feel comfortable I don't take it personally."
He would recommend that other men consider nursing as a profession.
"If you have an outgoing personality, if you are compassionate and want to help others, this career is for you," he said. "I really enjoy it. I have the opportunity to be around people and to help them. I love it. No matter what you do in life, do it because you love it, not because of money."
Source: Daily American