speech from walk of care


we are Pia and Hannah from Walk of Care Halle.

Nursing – a woman’s profession. That’s how it is anchored in our society.

But if we look at the historical course of nursing, it becomes clear that the origin wasn’t exactly a female one.

Pastoral care and later nursing finds its origin in monasteries, where it was initially carried out by monks and lay brothers. The first hospital orders were formed, such as the Antonite Order in 1095, where only men belonged. Only much later, from the middle of the 17th century, female nursing orders were founded as well.

From the middle of the 19th century, nursing was reformed. Many of the founders of professional nursing were women, such as Florence Nightingale or Agnes Karll.

Even today, we find in health care and nursing, as well as in care for the elderly about 80% people that are read as female.

We are here today because sexism and sexual harassment are a major problem in the nursing profession. Almost every day we have experiences that cross boundaries. 

Sexism is found in all professions: Care professions are often characterized by the fact that they are carried out by people who are read as female. However, sexism in care professions does not originate from the fact that so many female-read people perform it, but arises from the consequences drawn by society.

If a person searches for “nurse” on the internet, women in skimpy outfits are quickly displayed. Little remains of the professionalization of nursing.

Even if people watch various hospital series today, the distribution of roles is clear. The man is the successful hero in white and the woman is the nurse who adores the doctor. I, too, am confronted with this preconceived role model.

Just the other day, I was transferring a patient together with a colleague that is read as male. As soon as we entered the room, the patient commented, „Oh, now the doctors are already pitching in?!“

Why is a male colleague automatically mistaken for a doctor? Why is the woman at his side perceived as a nurse? And why does this bother me?

I am proud of my profession, but the lack of appreciation in society makes me wonder. If a male colleague mentions that he is a nurse, he often receives the comment, „Wasn’t it enough to be a doctor?“

Society needs to stop portraying the stereotype of nurses to the public in the outdated role models. After all, we are no longer “only” nurses, but professional nurse specialists.

Sexual harassment is something almost every nurse experiences firsthand.

Although there are studies on this topic, prevention measures are difficult to implement. This is because our profession crosses many intimate boundaries. Nurses are inevitably touched by patients during daily personal hygiene or when changing positions. The question is, where does sexual harassment begin and where does it end?

Is it sexual harassment if a patient grabs me by the waist while I’m repositioning?

Is it sexual harassment if a patient lets me hold the urine bottle even though he can do it himself?

Is it sexual harassment if a patient gets an erection during personal hygiene?

Or is it sexual harassment when a patient asks me about my relationship status?

These are questions I’m sure every nurse asks themselves at one time or another. We need to stop asking these questions only for ourselves and start questioning and critically reflecting them with seriousness. Nursing is heavily influenced by people who are read as female. But nursing is also a profession in its own right. And it has long ceased to be just a vocation of self-sacrificing women!