June’s guest, Donna Cardillo, MA, RN, looks at the trend of consistent uniform colors for nurses.
In case you haven’t heard, there is a national movement underway to have hospital nurses wear a “uniform” scrub color unique to that facility. This will make nurses easy to identify in that facility. And while some nurses are not thrilled with this trend, there are many reasons why we should embrace it.
First let me remind you that there was a time in healthcare when all nurses were easily distinguishable because of white uniforms and caps for women. Those days are long gone and I wouldn’t want to see the return of the cap, a throw back to military days. But in giving up the white uniform and cap, we seem to have gone in the completely opposite direction with an “anything goes” dress/scrubs policy. Oh sure, there are regulations against wearing too casual clothes such as blue jeans, but personal scrub choices encompass prints and colors of all types. And since almost everyone in the hospital setting wears scrubs these days, it is virtually impossible to know with a quick glance who anyone is.
I’ve been on the “other side of the bedrail,” so to speak, several times in the last several years when close family members were hospitalized. In some of those hospitals nurses all wore the same color scrubs while in others they did not. What a huge difference for me and my family members in those facilities that did have color coded scrubs to be able to immediately know when someone walked into the room whether or not he or she was a nurse. And just in case you’re thinking that you can distinguish yourself in other ways, it simply isn’t so in most cases. Rarely do people introduce themselves in the hospital when entering a patient room (a bad and dangerous habit). Name badges are either covered by lab coats or sweaters, flipped around, or are unreadable from any distance.
Additionally, we worked hard to earn our credential, and it is important to maintain our visibility. After all, we are the primary caregivers in the hospital, are the most trusted of all professionals, and are the reason that patients come to hospitals — to receive skilled nursing care and monitoring. How will anyone ever appreciate, acknowledge, or understand our unique role if we blend into a generic blob with all other providers?
Stand apart and stand proud. Be a beacon of professionalism and comfort in every way — including your appearance. Don’t leave your image, your role, and your identity to chance. Embrace and support “uniform” scrubs for nurses and wear them proudly. And while uniforms alone do not make the professional, they go a long way in helping us to stand out, better allowing us to do what we do best: heal, teach, support, comfort, nurture, and save lives.
Donna Wilk Cardillo is the Career Guru for Nurses and “Dear Donna” columnist for Nursing Spectrum, NurseWeek, and www.nurse.com. Donna is also an ‘Expert’ Blogger at DoctorOz.com. She is author of The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses, Your 1st Year as a Nurse, and A Daybook for Beginning Nurses. Ms. Cardillo is creator of the Career Alternatives for Nurses® seminar and home-study program. You can reach her at www.dcardillo.com.