Nurses have to walk a tricky line often in their day-to-day work. They must balance the urgent need to be up close to their patients in order to provide them with effective care and support, while also needing to know when to pull back for their own health and well-being. Similarly, as far as the profession itself goes, nurses have to dress so they seem approachable by patients and not appear intimidating, yet at the same time they also need to emphasize their professionalism and distance as caregivers, and can’t give off an ‘anything goes’ mentality. These are delicate matters, but considering the years of training and the day-to-day struggles faced by nurses ‘round the world, these matters are small hills to overcome.
The typical uniforms for most on-call and active duty nurses in hospitals and private offices include nursing scrubs, a pair of worn-in sneakers (usually white), and whatever other equipment they need to have on them at the moment. Worn-in sneakers are ideal because of the considerable time expended walking back and forth throughout the hospital or clinic premises, as new sneakers or more rigid shoe types can cause pain and discomfort from hours of repeated use. A nurse may sometimes prefer a more formal shoe type, and in certain situations that may be acceptable, however in most instances the need to keep a nurse up on her or his feet is more pressing than how the nurse’s feet appear. Worn-in or not, however, these sneakers should be kept clean at all times, to prevent dragging dirt or other unwanted substances into a clean zone, and also to keep nurses uniform in hygienic appearance.
The actual nursing scrubs are a bit trickier to deal with. Scrubs need to be simple and easy-to-wash as they are put through a lot in only a single shift. Durable scrubs are preferred as replacement can become expensive, even when using discount outlets. Simplicity and durability are also safeguards, preventing a loose sleeve getting caught in something dangerous, or an accidental chemical spill from burning through the fabric. Most hospitals and clinics are busy, crowded, and hectic, so chancing an ill-fit set of scrubs in that environment only raises the risk of a problem.
As far as the scrubs’ appearance, there are also some guidelines. Many hospitals enforce a standard color, typically a pale shade of blue, green, or pin, to present a uniform image of nurses to their patients. In other medical facilities, nurses may have more leeway in selecting scrubs that fit their personal taste, allowing for interesting patterns, colors, and designs to be used. In these circumstances, it is best to select a set of scrubs suited to the particular environment in which the nurse works. Bright blue scrubs with dinosaur pictures may be perfect for a pediatrician’s office and the child patients who inhabit it, but it may turn off an elderly man in an adult home and healthcare facility who feels as though the design is an affront to his adulthood and independence (not wanting to feel as though he’s being treated like a kid). The right scrubs can insinuate messages to the patients, keeping them calm and respecting of a nurse’s authority in some instances, and helping them to open up and endure more rigorous medical procedures in others.
So as long as a nurse’s hair is properly tied back (if long enough to matter), a clean set of scrubs are on, and a comfy pair of sneakers are at the ready, a nurse is set for another day’s work. Mastering the intricacies of appearance and clothing, however, can help project an image of professionalism while also protecting the nurse’s own well-being, both of which are advantageous in this line of work.