If you think back to the traditional nurses attire, either based on your own experience or what you've seen in the movies, what did most hospital uniforms consist of? A white nurses cap, a button down lab style coat, also in white, and a knee length white skirt or white pants (called scrubs). Today's hospital uniforms range from the traditional all white outfit to light blue scrubs or funky patterns and cartoon characters. What caused the change in hospital uniforms and why can you expect to see any color or design worn on employees of health centers, or the surgery center? Does it really matter what professionals attire is?
The simple answer is no- a nurse or doctor can fulfill all the same duties in white hospital uniforms that they can do in a colorful outfit. The more complicated, thorough answer however, is that it DOES seem to matter what type of hospital uniforms is being worn in our surgery centers, health centers and hospitals. Patients, particularly elderly patients, have an idea in their minds of what nurses "should" look like. They picture the traditional hospital uniform of the white nurses cap, white skirt or pants. What did the uniform say to patients? It was a sign of competence, professionalism, and dignity that was recognized by everyone- and in fact, still is to this day even though it is rarely seen in the halls of our health centers and hospitals. So, when patients are presented with nurses who are dressed in bright colors and patterns or wild designs, they may unconsciously get an unprofessional image, or think the nurse isn't quite as competent just because of the nurse's appearance. The outfit does not indicate the educational level or expertise of a professional, but unfortunately, it may go a long way in the minds of patients who are putting their health in the hands of these individuals.
The emergence of scrubs in surgery centers and emergency rooms makes complete sense for the type of work they are involved in, and scrubs are a perfectly acceptable form of hospital uniforms for these individuals. But the trouble comes when nurses, candy stripers, nurses in training, and everyone else is walking the halls of the hospital or health center in unisex scrubs. A patient is never really sure without asking their caretaker if they are being cared for by an RN, or a volunteer, or a college student who is still completing their training and honestly, as a patient, you have a right to know the qualifications of the person administering your medication, or answering your questions. It would be helpful if hospital uniforms made it clear what each person's profession was, so there would never be any doubt in the minds of the patients at the hospital, health center, clinic or surgery center as to who they are receiving care for. Nurses could go back to wearing the traditional nurses apparel, surgeons would be in scrubs, and others would be dressed in appropriate business attire, perhaps with nametags and titles on their shirts.