When you think of the classic nurses’ uniform, you think of a white fitted dress, apron and cap for women and white pants and long sleeve shirts for men. Over the years, the traditional uniform has morphed into more casual attire. In more recent times, nurses have worn scrubs in varying colors with anything from Sponge Bob Square Pants to their local sports team. Presumably, the trend towards scrubs was to provide comfort for the nurses who are on their feet for 12 hour shifts. Additionally, the gaily decorated scrubs offer some levity in what otherwise is generally a stressful situation for a patient.

However, there is now a growing trend to establish some type of standardized uniforms for employees, particularly the nursing staff. The casual dress trend began reversing itself in 2005 when the Cleveland Clinic revised its dress code, requiring all nurses involved in direct patient care, with the exception of pediatric nurses, to wear white uniforms and white lab shoes, according to the American Journal of Nursing. The center also adopted other color coded uniforms to identify other medical staff. There has now been some movement to make color coding an industry-wide standard.

Research suggests that attire that clearly distinguishes registered nurses from other caregivers and hospital support staff improves patient satisfaction and communication with nurses. A patient is able to readily distinguish their nurse from many of the other staff a patient encounters on a daily basis. Years ago, it was the cap that identified the nurse. In the future, it will be Caribbean blue scrubs.

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