Nurse uniforms are some of the dress codes that have witnessed much evolution over the past years and the types of uniforms modern nurses wear are quite versatile. In the past, all registered nurses could be easily identified by their distinctive white uniform, hose, and shoes. This code was directly taken from the schools they graduated from and the uniform was always topped with a white cap. With the change in fashion and design, nurses began wearing scrubs and pantsuits to work alongside other types of clothing. However, a professional appearance was and is still required by most organizations. Clothes such as denim jeans and sports clothes, t-shirts, and items that are too revealing are still banned from the nurse uniform list of options. If you plan to be an RN in future, it is important to know what nursing uniforms you will be expected to wear.
- Issues Pertaining to Nurse Uniforms
- Nurse Uniforms: Aspects of Cleanliness and Physical Elements
- Nurse Uniforms: Statistical Research on Patient Perception
- Nurse Uniforms: The Dressing Code
- Defining Nurse Uniforms
The importance and relevance of nurse uniforms are quite obvious and straightforward. The reasons are specific to health care and while many hospital employees are moving to scrubs and pantsuits, it is becoming increasingly difficult to tell who is the nurse, doctor or other specialists. Usually, the main issues that influence nurse uniforms and wear include safety of both patients and nurses. This is why items like bracelets and rings are not allowed during work as they can injure the skin of a patient. Disturbed and unstable patients can grab the necklaces worn by nurses and cause injuries. Similarly, keeping good hygiene and cutting down long nails is part of the nursing code to prevent bacterial infections.
The color code has also changed over time as nurses are no longer restricted to white but can also wear various shades of blue. White was originally used in many industries that require maximum hygiene like healthcare facilities and food industries. It is easy to notice dirt in white uniforms which calls for regular cleaning and maintaining high standards of hygiene within the facility.
Although the original nurse uniforms seemed ideal and perfect, they faulted on many levels, and it is arguable that this is why scrubs and pantsuits are allowed as they resolve these initial difficulties. Nurses come into contact with blood, urine, bodily fluids and other organisms.
It is, therefore, required that they use a uniform that is easy to clean (to remove the dirt from the fabric and prevent infection) and remove stains. One problem with the traditional nursing uniforms was that keeping white fabrics clean is clearly a tall order and requires harsh cleaning solutions or hours in a laundry. In addition to this, nurses spend most of their working hours on their feet tending to patients and compiling medical reports moving from one department to another. Their job requires outfits that allow easy movement, bending, squatting, stooping and reaching. The nursing job is physically demanding and the old dresses with a hat and neat wrappings just don’t work out in the modern environment. It was, therefore, important to find ways of integrating comfort and support, and this call for a change of uniforms. Some nurses still show up in the classical outfits but most of them work in less harsh environments where much of their work is cut down like in elderly homes.
Nurses should, therefore, find good comfortable shoes (no heels and big soles). Despite all these aspects, organizations require that everything is balanced out to produce a professional look.
Different studies have been conducted to find out what patients think about nurse uniforms and general representation. Only a small percentage (below 30%) still feel nurses should wear white while 64% feel they should wear any color they choose. However, about 73% strongly feel that nurses should keep short fingernails and their hair should be held tightly behind their shoulders or cut down altogether.
Some colors are obviously out of the picture. Pink, yellow and most neon colors are do not suite a healthcare facility environment. Blue and purple, on the other hand, have been used by some organizations as part of their nursing dressing code.
Most health care facilities and organizations have dress codes and require all nurses to wear outfits that meet specific characteristics. If that is the case, then all registered nurses in that establishment should by all means comply with these codes. Most exceptions include wearing scrubs in white color and having your white lab coat on during specific periods such as briefing a patient (or visitor).
All shoes should be liquid impermeable and must not produce excessive noise when walking.
Open toe shoes are not allowed in any health care facility. If you are a new employee in an organization without a dress code, it is advisable to ask your employer for their direction or expectations regarding your choice of clothes before you start working.
Nurse uniforms today comprise of scrubs, caps, shoes and accessories.
- Scrubs are the most popular uniforms and basically, consist of a top and long pant both made of thin silk materials. Most scrubs are cheap and come in various shades of blue and white. Some organization will specify the scrubs to be worn while others don’t mind.
- Caps are another requirement. Some organizations require all nurses to wear caps as part of their uniform at all times. Others require caps during specific periods like during surgical operations when the hair and other contaminants should be contained.
- Shoes should primarily be slip resistant and impermeable to liquid. Some organizations allow basic tennis shoes. Most nurse shoe options are flat or have slim soles and they are decently priced close to sneakers.
- As a general rule, nurses should not wear accessories as they can get tangled or be used to cause injury to patients and the nurses themselves. However, they may be required to wear watches to keep track of time when administering different medications to the patients. This is only allowed periodically and watches should not be worn into surgery rooms.
Nursing uniforms are obviously an integral part of the career and it is important to know what you will be expected to wear as a registered nurse in your unit. Different organizations have different provisions for nursing uniforms. If there are no such provisions, simply ask for direction from your employer and choose neat fits that allow comfortable movement.