How important is dress code for nurses in hospitals? Many feel that hospital doctors and nurses who are in direct contact with patients, delivering front-line medical care should be restricted to a recognizable dress code. The ongoing debate and the many surveys indicate that the question of a standard dress code for nurses is a split street, with people speaking both for and against it.
First Impressions Count
First impressions transmit powerful messages, even though it’s commonly understood that we should base our impressions on what we know about someone, not how someone looks. However, most people form an opinion about another person on the first meeting, and this impression is based on the person’s appearance. A well-dressed nurse, neatly scrubbed nurse tends to give the impression of strength, confidence and reliability while a sloppily attired nurse gives the opposite impression.
The first impression should be positive and should communicate the message that the nurse respects herself or himself. The white uniform that was the staple nursing dress for centuries has given way to informal scrub sets that don’t give the same impression of crisp professionalism. Seeing a nurse dressed in neatly pressed white scrubs or a white dress makes a patient feel confident about the care he or she is about to receive.
Looks Are Important – So Are Patients
As a health care worker, how a nurse looks and what he or she wears is important. From a hygiene and infection control perspective, what he or she wears is even more important. The scrub set is the recommended wear for nurses in the United States at present.
However, even more important than public impression is the impression they make on patients and their visitors. For example, we see doctors and nurses walking about in hospital wards and in public areas dressed in scrub sets, or parts of scrub sets. It’s hard to make out who’s a doctor, who’s a physiotherapist, who’s the housekeeping member and who’s the plastic surgeon. Everyone’s wearing scrub sets of different colors and in many cases, printed, embroidered, painted and fashion sets.
Nurses have to work directly with patients; they have to respond to nurse calls and take responsibility for complete patient care. Given that, the present chaotic dress code causes much confusion among patients and their visitors, as they are not able to identify nursing staff from other staff.
Should Nurses Follow A Standard Dress Code?
Some hospitals enforce dress codes for their registered nurses, while other health care facilities allow them to wear any design or color scrubs, as long as hygiene is maintained and their identification badges are visible. Some hospitals also require nurses to wear white nursing shoes to prevent accidental tripping or losing of balance.
A nurse is seen as a representative of a very noble profession and therefore the clothes she wears at work are expected to represent the seriousness of her call. When people think of nurses, they envision well-mannered, compassionate people in white respectable in appearance, caring for patients tenderly. This image has survived for centuries and even today, this is the standard image for a nurse. As such, the strong public opinion is that nurses have an ethical obligation to wear proper attire that befits their vocation. If not white uniforms, then they should follow a strict dress code that stands for the utmost professionalism and cleanliness.
Nursing decorum pertains not only to their behavior but also to their appearance. A proper uniform commands respect for professional nurses. It’s also preferred that nurses working in specialty areas such as OR, RR, OB/GYN, nursery, ICU and so on should wear hygiene smocks on top of their uniforms or surgical scrubs.