When you hit Google and search for “Nurses,” there is a very clear depiction of how the general public prefers their nurses to look. Immediately, we see that there is a prescribed dress code for nurses, whether it be implemented by their place of practice or by societal standards. This unspoken dress code may look like one that is difficult to achieve and maybe even slightly stifled if you are the one who has to wear it — but there are ways to improve upon the look while respecting the set standards. As seen below, the process doesn’t have to be a challenging one!
Make Sure Your Outfit Is Functional
The single most important aspect of nursing attire is the level of functionality. Nurses must be able to bend, lift and reach frequently in the process of patient care, and an ill-fitting, uncomfortable or inappropriately made outfit can limit or even prevent them from doing their duties entirely.
- Good Fit: A properly fitting pair of scrubs should ultimately allow for freedom of movement, without looking baggy or sloppy. Not only will your scrubs uniform look unprofessional when the fit is too tight or too baggy, but it can pose serious risks.
- Comfortable Shoes: You only get one pair of feet, and they have to last you throughout your entire career and life. With the amount that a day has to throw at you as a nurse, it is crucial to explore and invest in sturdy and supportive footwear with features for nurses. A favorite amongst nurses of all types in all environments, Dansko clogs are perfect as an example of what to look for in a nursing shoe.
- Proper Material: Not all scrubs are made equally, but generally, you want to look for scrubs made of cotton, polyester, four-way stretch fabrics or a blend of these materials. Offering unrivaled moisture control, comfort, durability and ease of cleaning and maintenance, these types of scrubs can help you pull off the sharp, neat and professional look that you have seen online or from the more seasoned professionals at your practice.
Pay Attention to Grooming and Hygiene
Whatever a nurse’s outfit may consist of, making sure that each piece is clean and every aspect has been groomed is crucial. Watching for things like wrinkled uniform pieces, scuffed shoes or dirty fingernails can help to present a professional and detail-oriented image that inspires confidence in the patient.
- Keep Your Outfit Looking Fresh: As noted above, wrinkled scrubs or scuffed and stained shoes should be corrected or avoided completely. Along with this, though, it is important to watch for less obvious signs of wear, such as faded colors or not-so-white whites. If you find yourself having to replace faded scrubs or scuffed shoes often, consider finding scrubs with protective fabric technologies and exploring nursing shoes for women and men that have been specifically designed for healthcare environments and duties.
- Keep Clean Hair, Nails and Teeth: Shampooing your hair, washing with soap and water and brushing your teeth — as simple and common as these steps may be — are possibly the most impactful ones when it comes to looking professional.
- Display a Well-Kept Self: You have likely mastered the previous step throughout a lifetime of living. In addition to being clean, however, you should also be well-kept. This will mean tied-back hair, groomed and controlled facial and body hair, unchapped lips to go with your clean teeth and well-maintained cuticles and skin.
Be Proactive in Infection Control
Infection control is an extremely important factor to consider when it comes to dressing like a professional. Nurses should be proactive when it comes to making sure they’re not accessorizing their outfits with unwanted contaminants.
- Keep Your Nails Short: Long nails, as well as artificial nails, have been shown to harbor bacteria. As such, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that nurses keep their nails as short as comfortably possible.
- Limit How Much Jewelry You Wear: Along with the health concerns noted in long nails, excessive or inappropriate jewelry can also act as a distraction, a safety risk and can result in a look that may be more bold than professional.
- Wear Scrubs That Are Easy to Clean: Scrubs look crisp, clean, vibrant and professional when you first buy them, but as your nursing uniform, they are frequently exposed to spills and stains. Not only do you not want your scrubs looking worn within a couple of shifts, but you don’t want them to look clean but secretly be harboring contaminants either.
Aim to Make a Connection with Your Patients
It is crucial to confirm and follow your dress code if there is one implemented at your place of practice, as mandatory pieces and the way that colors are utilized can be very function-focused. Otherwise, you want to be choosing pieces, colors and patterns that work the best for you and your patients. What appeals the most to you will likely be obvious, but what impact will it have on your patients?
- Looking Like ‘a Nurse’ Is a Good Thing: A major issue for professionals, patients and visitors alike is the ability to identify who is a nurse within larger healthcare settings. Wearing the proper scrubs, carrying the proper supplies, displaying your ID badge and following the tips noted throughout the rest of this article will have your colleagues and patients feeling comfortable and confident in your role when they interact with you.
- Wear the Right Colors: Colors can have a tremendous impact on your patients’ perceptions of you. Some colors have a general effect that can be seen in almost all patients, such as blues (which have been shown to invoke calmness and stability) and whites (which instill a feeling of purity of service), while others have been shown to appeal to certain types of clients such as light pinks for children and the range from burgundy to plum for elderly patients.
- Wear Patterns if Appropriate: Transitioning the colors, hues and even experimenting with the patterns of your scrubs is a great way to make connections with your patients and stay stylish as the seasons change. Showing that you can have a bit of fun and express yourself while staying professional is the ultimate goal — and with scrub tops for women and men in an array of patterns and colors these days, it doesn’t have to be a challenge.
No Matter What, Make Sure You Follow Dress Codes
As a nurse, looking professional will take you a long way, and will help you improve how your colleagues and patients perceive you, your service and your place of practice. Meeting the general public’s image of a nurse and following the nurses’ dress code (as well as your practice’s dress code) doesn’t mean that you can’t look good and express your style, though. And as we’ve seen, it doesn’t have to be hard!