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Back to Traditional Nursing Uniforms?

Back to Traditional Nursing Uniforms?

What do you think? Scrubs or old-school nursing uniforms?

Marijke Durning | NursingLink

June 16, 2010

Remember the old-fashioned nursing uniforms of the past? Most likely, the closest you’ve ever gotten to seeing them is on TV or in the movies. The era of starched dresses, stockings, nursing shoes, and cap has long passed. The uniform-du-jour now are scrubs, even for many students. They can be colorful, prints, or muted colors, and nurses have taken to the garments because of their comfort and ease of care. And so have the aides, the kitchen staff, the support staff… you get the picture.

In today’s world, everyone who works in the hospital seems to be wearing scrubs – doctors included! So, if a patient sees everyone in scrubs, how is he to know the difference between who is his nurse and who is going to clean his bathroom? When someone enters a hospital, it’s almost always a stressful situation, whether the health issue is theirs or involves someone they love. And if you’re in a stressful situation, you often find comfort in familiar things. Why else would comfort food be so, well, comforting? Nurses can be that familiar “thing” that patients and families latch onto. When they see a nurse, they recognize a health care professional.

Some hospitals have tried to deal with the identification problem by assigning colors to various employee groups. Nurses may have to wear dark blue, aides green, and so on. This may seem to be an effective solution, but there still is the issue of how professional the scrubs look – and some patients understandably just don’t think scrubs do the job. However, is going back in time the solution? One hospital in Florida thinks it might be.

Nurses in one unit at the JFK Medical Center in Atlantis, FL, have decided to wear the old-fashioned style nursing uniform for an eight-week trial to see how it would affect patient opinion of the care they received and how this would translate into patient satisfaction scores. According to an article in the Palm Beach Post, it may be working. The nurses are reporting that they seem to be getting more respect from patients, particularly the older ones who feel better about being able to identify their nurses.

What do you think? Would going back to the nursing uniforms of yesteryear make a permanent improvement in patient/nurse interaction? And what should male nurses wear?

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    telenurse85

    over 3 years ago

    20 comments

    I can't wear a cap. You have to pin it on in order to keep it on. Both the pins and the hat squeezing on my head trigger migraines. Years ago, I did have some uniforms that were dresses. Those went after a few incidents where I was required to sqat in order to transfer a patient or pick something off the floor. The longer skirts (which I wore) caught at the knees and one actually ripped. In order to effectively squat, one has to hike the skirt up. That leaves ones privates exposed as does wearing a shorter skirt.

    White looks awful after even a few washings. Deep stains, like betadine and even coffee never entirely come out. Even minor stains stick around as shadows. White looks dingy and gray. Even bleach usually cannot correct this.

    I choose to wear blue scrubs. Neatly pressed blue scrubs. These do not show stains well.

    As for the problem with confusion about who is whom and who does what, I always introduce myself as the nurse on first rounds. Then I write my name on the board (available in most rooms) beside the word "Nurse". And, if I have a hospital provided cell phone, I leave the number beside my name. I usually also write the Nursing Assistants name on the board beside the letters "CNA" (or whatever that hospital uses to refer to patient care assistants). This takes care of that problem quite well and doesn't require color coding uniforms (I've tried it and find most patients cannot remember what position each color refers to.)

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    deanam

    over 3 years ago

    2 comments

    I work as a CNA in a Nusing Home in VA. The idea of wearing all white scrubs is a little repulsive. There is way to many different bodily fluids that seem to hard to clean off and so offten when you get something on you it is at the begining of the shift. I see nothing wrong with solid colors , but I also see how the different patterns seem to affect some of the patients moods as well.

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    jeslclep

    over 3 years ago

    2 comments

    I am a nursing student in Tennessee. I have mentioned to my fellow classmates that I wish we could at least get our pinning pictures done in the traditional cap and dress. However, I have been booed with displeased comments. I don't think it's realistic to go back to the strict military uniform regime that nurses used to endure, but the regime of old shouldn't be thrown out completely. I feel that having a high standard for your appearance as a professional has been forgotten. Nursing is hard, but nursing school way back when was, I can only imagine, like boot camp. My mom, who is a nurse, graduated in 1990 and I can remember the times she's told me that before each clinical started, her instructor would have them line up and she would walk past each person and critique their appearance. If you were out of order, you were sent home. This type of care and respect for yourself and how you are perceived by your coworkers and patients is where nursing's roots as a profession began. If you don't care about how you look, then what makes you think your patients are going to give you the basic respect of looking professional, which is the basic rule for all jobs and professions. Look the part, then back it up with your knowledge and skill. Having the old uniform standard the way it used to be, wouldn't quite work with the advancement of autonomy and skill sets of the modern nurse. When nurses, were pretty much aides to the doctor and medical advancements and machinery were non-existent, nurses could work more easily with the required uniform. However, with today's medical engineering and nursing requirements, nurses are more likely to come in contact with more bodily fluids, medications, and perform certain procedures that would make it impossible to keep a white uniform clean. Then, if your uniform is soiled after working with one patient, how are you to still look professional and remain "clean" and/or sterile when moving on to another patient? Not that today's scrubs don't carry germs, but not having a iodine, blood, fecal stained white uniform at least hides the "OMG" factor from others and your patients.

    I like the idea of holding yourself personally and especially as a nurse to a higher standard and maybe even more so than a physician. You are in more contact with your patients than their doctor ever is. They see you hour by hour, minute by minute and the more professional you look, the more professional you will act, and you will receive that much more gratitude, respect, and confidence from your patients. So, in with the old concepts and out with the new and less professional nurse.

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    mudpup13

    over 3 years ago

    2 comments

    I really DON'T look good in pantyhose and a dress or skirt...

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    paularsalas

    over 3 years ago

    912 comments

    I personally don't like it or enjoy it. Years ago I was working as a medical assistant. And I had two accidents, one was a patients husband comment that I looked sexy. That he could see my undies. And the other was one day unexpectly I had stained and didn't notice until a coworker told me.

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    HEHNursingServices

    almost 4 years ago

    4 comments

    When I am working in a medical environment, I wear white scrub pants, a low-key floral scrub top, and a white lab coat. This is my compromise. At least the clients see me mostly in white, the historic trademark of the nurse. We definitely need something that readily identifies us as nurses. I am proud ot be a nurse, and I am proud to wear white.

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    Elena

    almost 4 years ago

    2 comments

    I was so excited to receive not only my cap but a pin during nursing school. However, in the real working world I couldn't keep the cap on and I was tangled in the IV tubing with that cap. Also I was excited to wear anything but a dress since the pantyhose always ran, I got hot and sticky in the hose and had a difficult time keeping pantyhose without runs in them to work in. I think that pants are the more practical thing to work in and I like the fact that scrubs are more affordable and easier to keep clean. The cap and pin should be a symbol of the nursing tradition and it is a rite of passage and that tradition is a good one however requiring everyone to wear whites, dress, pantyhose and cap is not very practical while caring for the sick, making beds, delivering meals and dispensing medications not to mention the treatments.

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    Lady1983Di

    almost 4 years ago

    2 comments

    Its so easy to throw on the scrubs without even a thought. A traditional white nurse's uniform is definitely the most professional looking and it does make the nurse stand out amongst others. I can say it doesn;t have to be a white dress, nylons and the cap! Why can't it be just a white uniform.... what ever you prefer. I always introduce myself to every patient as their nurse even if we have met before.

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    nadskie

    almost 4 years ago

    8 comments

    DEFINITELY! Now, don't get me wrong - I love the feel of scrubs over nurses whites. I live and work in the Philippines, and believe me, the cool feel of scrubs are so comforting any time of the year. But I completed my undergraduate course in 1996, and therefore, come from a generation of nurses who were trained to picture nurses in white uniforms. This is now my basis when I say that I was better respected by doctors and patients alike back then. What's even worse is that masseurs and nannies all wear scrubs as well. I find it downright embarrassing to wear my scrubs!

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    telenurse85

    almost 4 years ago

    20 comments

    I see here that it's either students or retired out of touch with the real world nurses who are advocatiing white dress uniforms. My cap went the first time it fell into a patients bodily secretions. The bobby pins which held the cap went with my migraines. My dress went to pants once I found out one MUST be able to squat while providing patient care. (I didn't care to have my privates exposed. I suppose some students haven't done any REAL squatting, bend over patient care. Or they just enjoy exposing themselves).
    White went with betadine and tube feed spills.
    I wear scrubs. Neatly pressed scrubs. And a name badge with my name and RN in LARGE letters. It works in the real world.

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    beth75kiss

    almost 4 years ago

    26 comments

    What happened to being professional enough to introduce yourself as you enter your patient's room? "Hi, my name is Beth, and I am your nurse tonight" are the first words out of my mouth to each patient I have. I have worked in the white uniform, cap and all, and I now am working as a color-coded nurse in a large hospital system that once allowed nurses only to wear multi-colored scrubs vs the one solid color of today. Many patients asked me why all the nurses were wearing such plain scrubs, and said they missed the pretty, different prints- it offered something different to look at each shift change, and helped them keep up with each specific nurse better. Unless you provide no hands-on patient care, whites are extremely unpractical. My cap ended its career the first time a stomach bug floated through the nursing home I worked at while providing patient care.... I can see no difference in the level of respect I earn from my patients and their families based on my uniform, but my attitude and respect I give to each is returned to me.

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    mooncrystal

    almost 4 years ago

    14 comments

    White uniforms, stockings, and cap? Hell no! The uniform would be stained, the stockings would run, and the cap would fall off at the worst of times.

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    kathyswarthout

    almost 4 years ago

    36 comments

    I find that wearing WHITE UNIFORMS impresses the patients that the nurses care about cleanliness and infection control. I prefer the white uniforms on the nurses in hospitals. I work as a Home Health Nurse, so I usually dress in slacks and a blouse as I accompany my patient when he leaves the home. When I worked in Coronary Care, I was pleased when we were allowed to wear white slacks (white uniform pants were too often too transparent) because they permitted more freedom of movement than dresses. I still wear white hose and white shoes while attending a patient: they just look cleaner and are easier to keep looking cleaner. Kathy BSN '70

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    Sobergirl05

    almost 4 years ago

    4 comments

    It has only been, hmmmm, about 15 years since I worked at a psychiatric facility in Northern California who STILL required licensed nurses to wear dress, stockings, AND cap! In white, of course. This was, and still is, a family-run facility. Now, I haven't worked there in some years and am unaware of current policies. Seems like a bit of a throw-back if you ask me. The professional look the management tried to portray did not, sadly to say, improve upon the overall quality of the hospital.

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    drtomconrad

    almost 4 years ago

    13812 comments

    It's been a while since I have done floor nursing, but I do remember (when I was in the Navy), going into my part-time job and slipping out of my uniform top and putting on a short smock. Still wearing my white shoes and pants, several older patients picked-up on it and I did receive much more attention (and respect) because of it.

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