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Record number of men applying for nursing courses following recruitment drive

The number of 18-year-old men applying to study undergraduate nursing courses in England has risen by more than 50% over a decade, according to new figures.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, the body who administers university application processes, found that applications from 18-year old men to study nursing jumped from 290 to 440 between 2009 and 2019, a 66% increase in 10 years.

The January 2019 deadline saw a particularly significant jump in applications from the demographic, with a 9% rise between 2018 - where 370 applied - and 2019 - where 440 registered their interest before the deadline.  

The encouraging figures follow the launch of NHS England’s ‘We Are The NHS’ recruitment campaign last summer, which was primarily targeted at school children aged 14-18.

Scotland and Wales also saw the number of nursing applications from 18-year-old men receive boost, from 40 to 70 (75%) in Scotland and from 20 to 30 (27%) in Wales. However, Northern Ireland saw no difference, remaining static at 70 applications.

This is part of a wider-scale increase that saw nursing applications overall rise to 30,650 people in England this year, up 4.3% on 2018. Applications had previously dropped by almost a third (31%) between 2015 and 2018.

The surge of nursing applications in 2019 largely rang true across the UK: in Northern Ireland, from 2,350 to 2,570 (a 9% rise); in Scotland, from 4,820 to 5,250 (9%); and in Wales from 2,590 to 2,720 (5%).

Frankie Caruana, a senior orthopaedic practitioner at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, Kent, and who starred in the ‘We Are The NHS’ campaign, encouraged more men to consider the career.

He said: ‘It surprises me that some people still think nursing is not an option for men. I never feel prouder than when I’m making a difference to people’s lives day in day out. I’d recommend a nursing career to anybody – man or woman.’

Director of Nursing for transformation at NHS England Paul Vaughan said: ‘Nurses are at the heart of people’s NHS care so it’s encouraging to see such an uptake in nursing applications since the launch of the campaign – especially amongst men.

‘We want to get young people, including boys, to think about a career in nursing from an early age, which is why NHS England has been working for some time with families and schools to highlight the huge positive impact we can have for patients and the many roles available within the profession.’