Although women outnumber men in the nursing profession today, this was not always the case. Men in the military traditionally cared for the sick. In parts of the Arab world, only men were considered capable of public nursing. The first school of nursing, founded around 250 B.C. in India, only accepted men. Men only were considered to be pure enough to touch patients, women were not. They were trained in every aspect of care, including: cooking, bathing, feeding, massaging limbs, assisting in walking and movement, and making beds. For years men were the main medical practitioners, delivering care to patients and nursing the sick back to health.
During the American civil war nursing volunteers cared for the soldiers wounded in battle. Both the Confederate and the Union Armies had teams of nurses – male and female – contributing to the war effort. Although mostly the women are noted as nurses, there were hundreds of men who gave much needed medical attention to fallen soldiers. Walt Whitman, a famous writer and poet, left his pursuit of the literary arts in favor of nursing. Even though a number of men such as Whitman ventured into the nursing profession, their numbers would decline in Europe and North America for over a century.
Florence Nightingale, despite her reforms that transformed healthcare, may have also reduced the role of male involvement in nursing.
Full article from MyNursingUniforms Nursing Blog.