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Back to White Student Nurse Uniforms?

Back to White Student Nurse Uniforms?

Ani Burr | Scrubs Magazine

April 14, 2010

No, no… I ‘m not talking about wedding gowns or spring dresses. I’m talking about the super starchy, pressed and polished white uniforms we’ve all been instructed to wear. There’s been a lot of talk about nursing uniforms lately, and so I thought I would throw my two cents in.

I’m sort of torn. Of course, I took the advice we learned from orientation and bought a button down top (in case you get dirty) and extra large pockets (for all the odds and ends we shove into them). The top is a little loose for comfort (and better pocket use), and with my school patch on the left sleeve I look like ::superhero voice:: STUDENT NURSE – soon to be healer of the sick!

Ok, so I don’t really think looking like the Michelin Tire man is all that great, but you know, we’re not in a beauty contest, so I will over look that. I do understand the need for students to be identifiable, to stand out when there’s an emergency, and to be easily differentiated from the rest of the staff. However – maybe it’s just me, but I feel like when I wear my uniform it’s like having “CAUTION – STUDENT” written all over my face.

I actually didn’t really notice the way I was treated differently in white scrubs until I was allowed to wear colored scrubs during our pediatric rotation. Obviously, white’s a bit sterile and scary to kids, so we were able to don whatever colors or patterns we wanted (a super exciting moment!). But WOW – what a difference. On my first day in teal colored scrubs, I walked in, introduced myself as a student nurse, and was treated with more respect than in the previous year of rotations.

The parents felt comfortable talking with me, the kids weren’t afraid, but the biggest, most recognizable difference was the attitudes of the staff members. I felt like we were suddenly treated as part of the team, not as “just some student.” We were asked opinions about care and not just utilized as someone who could do the dirty work (as it’s seemed we were labeled in other hospitals). Granted, a lot might have to do with quality of care at the hospital, but I’m not convinced that the attitudes toward us students would have been the same had I been wearing my crisp white uniform. I think that as long as we inform our patients and staff that yes, we are students and we’re here to learn, we don’t need to be more identifiable than anyone else.

On the issue of color coding the floors/specialties, etc., I can see the advantage, sure. I get that patients have a ton of people going in and out of the rooms, but I really don’t think it’s something that can’t be fixed by introducing yourself to your patient and having a small conversation with them. Maybe all that’s needed is an in-service on bedside manners? One hospital I was in had an extension on their name tags with a specific color and a very large “RN” printed on both sides so there was really no question who you were talking to and what floor they were on. Seems a lot more simple than mandating a color coded floor.

I don’t think we need to be color-coding everything, but whatever is in the patient’s best interest. I do, however, think that nursing school uniforms should be re-considered, maybe ALL white isn’t the best choice.

Nursing students: What do you think about your school’s uniform? Do you think it impacts the way you’re perceived by patients? By staff?

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    china_cat84

    about 3 years ago

    8 comments

    My school requires an ALL white scrub set - white pants, white top, white shoes, white socks...you get the idea. And yes, the white socks are important! Students have been known to get in trouble for wearing green socks. Our tops also have our school patch on the left shoulder.

    The white is REALLY frustrating. Believe me, I understand the need for us to be easily identifiable, but seriously? 95% of the nursing students are women, which means 95% of us have a certain period of the month when white is a BAD color - which, undoubtedly, falls on a clinical day!

    And whites do make a difference, depending on where you are. In nursing homes, the residents treat you with more respect because of the white uniform, but the staff doesn't - we're used as free workhorses. When I did my surgical rotation, I had to wear greens provided by the hospital and it made a HUGE difference! Not once was I treated like an idiot, nor was I asked to run mundane errands or perform stupid tasks that have no meaning to my education. And I always introduced myself as a student and no one seemed to care!

    Not only that, but I think requiring us to wear whites costs us - the poor college students - more money. They get stained, they get dingy, we might even have to turn them over to the hospital if we get blood on them...if our scrubs were a darker color, stains wouldn't show as much and they wouldn't get dingy as easily.

    One school in the area wears royal blue bottoms and their school's shirt on the top in royal blue - the school's name and logo are very large on the back and the name/logo is printed on the breast as well. I think we would be easily identifiable if we wore our school's colors and had our school's logo and name on our tops...at least then, I wouldn't have to worry about my underwear showing or that time of the month!

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    Miasma

    about 3 years ago

    8 comments

    In regards to another comment that stated, "Just because you can do some skills doesn't make you an experienced nurse". I agree whole heartedly, which is why I always introduce myself as a nursing student and completely understand that I am still learning and will always continue to learn. However, I will not be an experienced nurse the day after I take & pass my NCLEX either. That comes with time. Should newly licensed nurses also have to be color coded? Would that add to "patient comfort" the way some are claiming wearing all white does? Personally, I disagree and feel strongly that it would only increase patient anxiety. It's not about the color you wear, it's about how you interact with the patients and how you carry yourself.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Miasma

    about 3 years ago

    8 comments

    We wear royal blue tops with white pants. The white is somewhat frustrating, but I can deal with it better than wearing all white. I agree, that wearing all white could cause problems with staff as well as patients not taking a student nurse seriously. Also, some people are intimidated by medical professionals wearing all white. Remember "white coat syndrome"? BP increases just because a patient sees someone in white or white coat. I agree with so much that is said in this article, and also found that in many facilities, we had been treated as "stupid students". I understand we are still learning (and always will be), however it's a bit unfortunate the way some nurses "eat their young". Fortunately, I have been in a wonderful facility for my current rotation and have not once been treated like a stupid student. I also agree with your thoughts on color coding everyone... why does it matter? In my experience, most of the patients aren't going to remember who's who based on what color uniform they are wearing anyway. Utilize that bedside manner! Introduce yourself as a student/nurse/aid/doctor and you'll have a far better chance of them remembering. It's also ok to reinforce that with the patient the next time you see them if needed. In my opinion, it's not so much about what color you wear, but much more about looking and behaving like a professional. And please don't forget that bedside manner! It goes hand in hand with being a professional.

  • 004__2__max50

    lkpluskamp

    about 3 years ago

    2 comments

    I'm a current student and our school mandates a white scrub top and royal blue scrub pants. I don't really mind the white top. However, if my pants where white that would cause more frustration. I definetely can see both sides of the argument, but really I don't think it would matter what color our scrubs were, as long as we keep having that giant school patch on our breast, everyone will know we are students.

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    NurseNancy27

    about 3 years ago

    4 comments

    Can we just wear a different color than white is what I'm saying.....Why is white the color why can't they be all brown or all blue?? they could be blood red and I wouldn't care....but hello people white isn't realistic.

  • Hotties_max50

    longpour02

    about 3 years ago

    4 comments

    As an lvn prior to my rn school rotation, I dealt with the white scrubs once already and feel like the new nurses just joining the nursing field should wear white to be distinguishable from all others strictly for patient safety. I dislike going back to my white scrubs but I believe that my patients and floor staff can tell that I already have experience and that fact presents itself when I speak with the staff, families and other students. I wear colored scrubs at work and for me white can be a nice change. The good thing for me is I am not required to purchase new collared scrubs like the rest but simply wear my previous plain white pairs. I think the white scrubs are temporary and we really should not complain because it isn't for the rest of our lives. With all the other things shoved into our brains the last thing I want to worry about is what color to wear. It's to bad for those treated different because you never know who you will be working with and I appreciate the RNs willing to pull me aside to teach me, just because I am in white and a student again.

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    NurseNancy27

    about 3 years ago

    4 comments

    Lady we clean your patients up while you administer drugs. Not only does white scrubs tend to scare the patient more but umm hello we have to pay to get these things cleaned and white is the worst to try to get stains out. We deal with body fluids on a daily basis. And with the economy being bad as is, try having kids while going to nursing school, paying for super expensive books and medical supplies and then on top of that having to deal with the hassle of getting your scrubs dry cleaned because bleach won't get the stains out. So if you want to pick up my dry cleaning bill then I would suggest you would look at a student nurses perspective. I don't care if we have to wear the same color, but why in the hell would you make student nurses wear white. We are not florence nightingale!!! So umm my vote is student nurses should never have to wear white!! Period!

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    smschafle

    over 3 years ago

    50 comments

    Nurses should be distinquishable, it is easier on the patient and more comforting to them, too, in many ways. if white does that then so be it. As for student's not liking to be identified as students, well that's too bad. We must all start somewhere. Just because you can do some skills doesn't make you an experienced nurse. Blood, sweat and tears over the years, in addition to their skills will help qualify them as experienced nurses who get recognition for what they have contributed, not because they attend a nursing school program.

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