It’s no secret that the nursing profession is largely dominated by women, but the push is on to change that in New Brunswick.

The New Brunswick Nurses Union is developing a campaign to try and encourage more men to enter the profession by changing attitudes and breaking stereotypes.

“We need to break down those stereotypes because nursing has been seen traditionally as a female career, but I think that the technical aspect of it and the skills that are required for a registered nurse to care for New Brunswickers, that men should be looking at that as a possible career choice,” says Paula Doucet, a spokesperson for the New Brunswick Nurses Union.

Only 1,048 of the 19,418 registered nurses in the Maritimes are men. In New Brunswick, 5.5 per cent of registered nurses are men, while the number is 5.6 per cent in Nova Scotia. Only 3.7 per cent of registered nurses are men on Prince Edward Island.

“There’s a whole cohort out there that we’re not actually reaching out to, to say that nursing is actually a wonderful career, and I think young men today could be looking at nursing as a possible career choice,” says Doucet.

Robert Pelletier and Thomas Walsh are two of only a handful of men enrolled in the nursing program at the University of New Brunswick, and they each have family connections to the profession.

Pelletier says, when it came to consider nursing as a career, he had a great role model in his mom.

“She was happy that I chose that profession,” he says. “She sees me as a good nurse and I’m going to go back home in north of the province so there is tons of work available.”

“Both of my parents are nurses and they’ve been nurses over 30 years, so I’ve been around it my whole life,” says Walsh. “I wanted to help people.”

As for why more men aren’t becoming nurses, Pelletier says he’s not sure why that is, but he hopes that changes soon.

“I’m not sure, to be honest. I mean, any time I talk to people, I always praise the profession,” he says. “I encourage my friends to get involved.”

“I know some years that haven’t had any men in the classes,” says Walsh. “Don’t be nervous about getting into a female-dominated profession. It’s actually a lot of fun working with girls and no different than working with guys.”

The union expects to launch the campaign later this year.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Nick Moore