why do nurses have to wear scrubs

Why scrubs? Simple, doctor envy! *LOL*
As previous poster stated, up until not too long ago, say the 1980's or so, the only persons allowed to wear scrubs were doctors and nurses in L D, OR and the units. Even then female nurses were normally given scrub dresses, not the top and pants. So there was an elitist sort of thing going on. Being seen in the cafeteria and or allowed to wear scrubs as a nurse meant one worked in one of the aforementioned units, not on the floors. Floor nurses were strictly forbidden to wear scrubs, or any change from starched whites (with or without cap)in most hospitals. The main reason given was that one might be mistaken for a doctor. If you spilled something on your uniform,tough chedder.


Well perhaps one or two things might happen. First a request would go up the ranks from the head nurse to the supervisor and perhaps DON for an exemption so one could wear scrubs. Or, one was asked to phone home, call the nurse's residnece or whatever to have someone bring you a clean uniform. If all else failed you wrapped yourself in an isolation gown and got on with things. Uniforms were seen as something that belonged to service staff like housekeeping, not professionals such as nurses, after all doctors do not wear uniforms, so the theory went and starched whites began to go the way of caps in most hospitals. That being said some places still insist that floor nurses wear whites.


Have an Internet friend from the South that says the doctor in charge of her clinic insists on not only whites, but caps as well. Go figure. Getting ready to start my N school clinical rotations, just bought my white scrubs, including an ugly boxy shirt. I understand that it s easy to identify the students in stark white (like a bag of marshmallows opened) among a crowd of colorful techs, RN s, dietary, CNA s, etc. It ll be a letdown after working as a lab tech the past year at a hospital that allows most units to wear their own scrubs. I ve gotten many appreciative comments from patients about my attractive scrubs (many of which I ve bought used from Goodwill or eBay) and would be most unhappy about regimentation at work.


I suspect VERY few patients bother to learn the color scheme behind mandated uniform colors they are hazy from meds or in too much pain to pay much attention to anything but the scheduled time for the next dose of narcotics. My facility requires all L D and postpartum RN s to wear an attractive footprint shirt or jacket or both, plus a different color badge background, which ID s them as the only staff allowed to remove a newborn from a mother s room. That makes sense to me, given the risk of baby theft. I find it quite easy to identify other staff members by their RN REHAB DIETARY TECH NA LAB MD CHAPLAIN or EVS hangtag below their badge, and I believe that pt s can easily distinguish between those, if their eyesight is good.


To many pt s, everyone is a nurse until we correct them, but I believe that s as much about laziness failure to care as it is about confusing images. Rumors surface about going to departmental uniforms, and I sincerely hope we never do. I like being able to wear scrubs tops with nicely designed patterns with butterflies, flowers, cartoon characters (Pink Panther only), geometric shapes, jungle print (once in a while), leaf print, and holiday prints (everyone commented favorably on my lineup of snowman scrubs tops in Dec).


As I occasionally observe to pt s and their family members, We have enough serious around here, we need to include some reasons to smile and even laugh a little. Laughter is the best medicine, right? Along with hope and inspiration. To the extent that institutionalized uniforms take away the smiles and emotional uplift to pt s (let alone staff), they re not worth the notional/alleged gains in infection control, elimination of tackiness, or enhanced professionalism. And to the extent that MD s are permitted to show up in blue jeans ball caps, fashionable dress shoes, without lab coats or name badges or stethoscopes, I say lay off the support staff.