Second Opinion

Second Opinion

In this forum for discussing the “hot button” issues facing the nursing profession today, we welcome your thoughts and opinions. Check this space in each issue to see how readers answer the provocative questions we pose.

Our question this issue: What do you think nurses should wear?
(A) A white uniform
(B) A uniform of another color
(C) Scrubs—any color
(D) Scrubs—same color for each unit
(E) A bright, easily identifiable RN badge
(F) Name tag is enough
(G) Anything, as long as it is clean, neat, and professional
(H) Other

The results:
(A) A white uniform (16.9%)
(B) A uniform of another color (4.1%)
(C) Scrubs–any color (22.4%)
(D) Scrubs–same color for each unit (32.9%)
(E) A bright, easily identifiable “RN” badge (11.1%)
(F) Name tag is enough (0.9%)
(G) Anything, as long as it is clean, neat and professional (9.9%)
(H) Other (1.9%)
Total Votes: 2423

Our readers said:

This poll does not take into consideration the different environments in which nurses practice. The attire should be appropriate for the specialty area, along with some form of identifying feature. — Barbie Bryant, Accel. ’90

Both doctors and nurses are professionals. As long as doctors wear white coats/jackets, nurses should wear white uniforms. Pants are OK for women, caps not necessary, but name tags should be large enough for patients to clearly see. — Lynne Clarke ’63

Regardless of degree, we are all professionals and looking to advance our profession. We should always take care with our appearance, dressing professionally, yet realistically, as dictated by our job description. — Brittany Serences, MSN ’05

The selection of the question “What should nurses wear?” as an SON opinion poll question seems to indicate that the “tyranny of uniforms” in nursing as described by Shermalayne Southard Szasz still exists. (“A nurse as a blob of white does not have to take a stand on who she is . . . . In American culture, the more a person attains professional stature, the less distinct and conforming her/his outward appearance need be. The nursing uniform does not promote an image of an autonomous person.” From “The Tyranny of Uniforms” in Janet Muff, ed., Socialization, Sexism and Stereotyping: Women’s Issues in Nursing, St. Louis: C.V., Mosby, 1982.)

Because nursing was originally practiced by desperate women of ill repute or by religious orders for penance, the traditional nurses uniform was an attempt to convey chastity and therefore respectability via wearing white; the cap represented obedience and servitude. The real question is not what should nurses wear, but why is it still necessary to ask? — Janet Selway, DNSc, CANP, CPNP

Stay Up-To-Date

Get updates on the latest stories, from hot topics, to faculty research, alumni profiles, and more.

Ways to subscribe