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When I started out in nursing, the hospital I worked at required CNA’s to wear cranberry, RT’s to wear teal, and RN’s to wear royal blue, etc. We could wear certain scrub tops that were approved and that matched the royal blue pants. The hospital did not pay for them.

When I moved and got a new job, there were no standard uniforms. We could wear whatever we wanted. Some people took this too far and started looking a bit unprofessional – scrub pants with little t-shirts that actually showed off belly buttons, that sort of thing. One or two nurses wore street clothes, but they actually looked fine to me. It wasn’t like they were wearing jeans or anything. It looked appropriate in my opinion.

A committee was formed to discuss the possibility of requiring standard uniforms. Most of us in ICU (and the rest of the hospital) were completely and totally against it. We liked our individuality and we didn’t want to look the same. I realize that there are professions that wear standard uniforms (police, EMT’s, firefighters, the military, etc), but some of us felt as though we should not be told what to wear.

Patients often comment on our scrub tops, usually compliments :). Then again, it was argued that if we told patients at the outset that all RN’s are wearing blue, they’d be able to discern who they were talking to. Or, you know, the person could just tell them that they were the RN. Why make things so hard?

Most of us felt it was up to the manager to take care of those who were dressed inappropriately.

The idea was eventually shot down, but I found it most interesting that the hospital was prepared to buy everyone’s uniforms for them, the number of which was to be based on how often one worked. I couldn’t believe that they’d spend so much money on dressing everyone.

So what do you do? Once again, there’s a poll up at Nursing Voices if you care to weigh in there!

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I’ve worked in both types, with the you choose scrubs and the color-coded by job scrubs. I prefer to be able to pick what I wear myself, but I do think it was better for the patients when everyone was color coded. And your first impression walking onto the floor was more professional.

I have worked at a hospital that required the nurses to wear white scrub pants and a button down scrub top. I did not like this because white is very difficult to keep clean and who wants to wear white all the time. I have also worked in an office at which you could wear whatever scrubs you wanted. I enjoyed this because I was able to express my personality.
I don’t think that half of the patients that I worked with in the hospital really paid attention to what colors matched what proffesion (RT, PT, RN’s). I just think that if you look professional you should be able to wear what color you want.

Interesting enough, my husband, who is not a health care professional, prefers nurses to wear the same color (preferably white) so that he can easily recognize them. He feels with so much automomy in the dress code, he has a hard time asking anyone the right questions.

I think that all it takes is for one to look professional, and to introduce yourself to your patient every time you enter their room. Many ill patients, and especially the elderly or confused cannot remember all the color codes and then get frustrated and “shut down”.
I see patients that will tell me, “I don’t remember my nurse’s name, but he/she is wearing that nice purple and blue paisley top”. That’s a much better identifier than,”my nurse is one of those people wearing blue.” As professionals, we should be able to dress ourselves and present ourselves accordingly. Anyone doing less than that is a problem for the manager. It’s too easy to always reduce solutions to the least common denominator, rather than raising expectations.

i will wear whatever the hospital approves…uniform if they want me to, whatever if they don’t care. i am very boring like that.

Gotta tell you this is really happening — how much of an issue can this be? Strict uniform policy?…
In this day and age you can’t do this to people( us — nurses I mean): enforcing and opressing you by adding another “requirement” to being evaluated and classified as valued emploee based on how you look .Believe it or not that is another form of discrimination called lookism.Make a” dress code” a policy and you add to the already opressed proffesion– more opression. Is there more to us than just the look?Hmmm…Let me think? Are we angels of mercy?Are we all virtuous?I think by wearing whites we make the public believe in stereotypes of a nurse. Wearing only whites or in the case of my unit white pants and royal blue tops– did not keep me there( I chose to wear white lap coat over white T shirt and “OR” scrub pants). It became such policy hassle– I was so harrassed about it that I left the opressing environment.
Couldn’t stand to work in that hospital ( for other reasons as well — but that is a whole other story). They really enforced the issue — supervisor sent you home to change your uniform if you were non complaiant. Some people never came back and you had to work short staffed.And ultimatley who do you think suffered?

To walk into a hospital and not be able to workout who is who is confusing for patients. We have many uniforms for our hospital, there is a choice of tops (blue, white, red in different patterns of the hospital logo), but always navy/black pants/skirt. Agency nurses wear their uniforms, students wear theirs. But it is easy to tell who are staff and who are patents and families. I don’t see why you can’t wear scrubs of any pattern/style, as who is going to wear them down the street. However it is important that we maintain our image of a caring PROFESSIONAL workforce, and jeans with skimpy tops are not acceptable. It is not a matter of ?lookism? it is a matter of professionalism, we are the 2nd most trusted profession don’t ruin it.

If you are being sent home for not wearing the right thing, and not returning, I don’t think you are suited to this profession of caring about others, go into accounting where you can continue to think about yourself.

janitors get to wear scrubs at the hospital i go to. makes me wish nurses still wore caps.

Because I work in the OR, I will ALWAYS have to wear whatever scrubs the hospital provides. Recently, our hospital changed the color of our scrubs so that people would know that we were are part of Surgery/PACU/Day Surgery. Not exactly my color, but oh well. In any case, I don’t feel like my individuality is being compromised. Uniforms are one less thing that I have to wash and worry about!

As for figuring out who is and isn’t a nurse, our hospital made huge badges to attach behind our IDs with NURSE in capital letters. Needless to say, the only people who notice this are other nurses in the hospital! :)

As a patient on two very unpleasant occasions heart episode and neck surgery L-4-5 discectomy(sp?) where I coded in recovery, my last concern when lucid enough was how to identify my caretaker by color. I knew who cared and who didn’t by the second day even in my drug fogged state.

Several industries require color coded apparel, BUT it is for those in the know and not the general public. People such as as Auditors, big wigs from corporate etc, etc, They can walk out on the shop floor and know who is who by the color of their smock, hard hat, type shoes mandated by the company, This applies to everything from Auto plants, home depot, and the chciken slaughter house that supplies your local grocery.

I’m in the same boat- came from a standardized scrub hospital, now in a free-for-all one which is considering standardizing.
Based on the patient response at the prior hospital, I’d have to go with the color-coded scrubs. They really did make a difference.

When I was in school I worked in a hospital as an aid where the RNs could wear (and do) whatever they wanted. Heck on Sundays they wore black scrub pants and NFL jerseys. The aids had to wear white pants and shoes and hunter green tops. People still had no idea who the aids were from the nurses. I even had Dr’s walk up to me almost every day trying to give me verbal orders or ask questions. We also had the signs on our name badge that said PCA or RN or whatever. Now I work in a hospital where the color is based on what floor you are on. I’m not sure what that has to do with anything. We have to wear white, navy, or burgundy pants and can wear whatever top we want as long as it matches. I like having at least a little freedom. Who feels pretty wearing a ugly green top every day?

As a paramedic going to diferent ER’s, color coding is nice in that when I need to find a Nurse to sign for a Patient I can diferentiate them from ER techs, some of whom try to make you think they are Nurses. What is strange is that at 2 hospitals who are affiliated, one ER has Nurses in Maroon and techs in Navy Blue and the other is the reverse.

No matter what colour health care workers wear, people are STILL going to ask/think we’re all nurses. So why bother colour code? Plus, we have NAME TAGS with our titles for a reason. We are in 2012 now. Let us have a choice! As long as you’re neat and professional looking, who cares what colour we wear. I just got my BSN (I’m 24 years old, and my closet is FILLED with new scrubs in: purples, greens, pinks, yellows, prints, ect…. and I’m stuck wearing dull blue day in-day out ’cause of annoying family members who can’t read name tags or ask. On top of that, my boss calls me other co-workers names often because we ALL LOOK THE SAME!

Let’s not resort back to the olden days, people. White scrubs? Please. Heck, why not bring the nursing caps back too. *Rolls eyes

We ALL have to wear white shoes/socks, nude underwear and undershirts. PLEASE do not take our choice of scrubs away. It took years to get prints and colours in.

Stand up to choice! :)

So, what brought you to the hospital today?

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  • profileI am Gina. I have been a nurse for 15 years, first in med/surg, then CVICU, inpatient dialysis, CCU and now hospice. This blog is about my experiences as a nurse, and the experiences of others in the healthcare system - patients, nurses, doctors, paramedics. We all have stories!

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