Why do Nurses wear Uniforms?

CBR001265I am a big fan of nurses wearing a uniform but an even bigger fan if the uniform identifies them as a nurse, and there lies the challenge. For me the whole reason for wearing a uniform is so that patients can identify us as a nurse.


Nurse’s uniforms over the years have seen more changes then Michael Jackson’s face. Nowadays, it is becoming increasingly difficult to identify the who’s who of the hospital staff. Do you believe that nurses in your hospital are easily identifiable? If they are not identifiable now, when do you believe they were (if ever)?


I liked it when I wore a nurse’s tunic with the buttons on the side and up to the neck. This was a useful article of clothing for male nurses as it made them quickly and easily identifiable as a nurse. While it may not be practice to go retro in the nurses uniform’s fashion stakes, my concern is that the recent titillations to nurse’s uniforms have done little to make them stand out as nurses.


From the patient’s perspective hospital staff’s uniforms are all blending in to a montage of fabric patterns that the untrained eye can barely distinguish. Nurses can now be easily be confused with a member of the domestic or cleaning staffs that are often on the wards. Recently I was in a hospital in Chennai and the staffs that were the easiest to identify were the student nurses from university. It was such a simple idea but it works really well the nurses had an embroided insignia that identified them as a student nurse. Maybe all our uniforms should be embroidered front and back so to identify the wearers’ role. It wouldn’t matter then if there were variations or different options in the uniform range as everyone role would be clearly plastered on their chests.


Would this simple idea work in your hospital or nursing home or are you already using it? Specialist nurses that work in the hospital but those who don’t wear a uniform can easily be confused for doctors. ID badges are too small for most patients to read easily so offer little insight into who the staff is and what they do. Maybe a system of fabric vests like workmen wear (but not fluoro color) worn over their clothing and with the nurses’ role printed onto the front and back of the vest would help (e.g. “Nurse: Diabetic Educator”).


Nurses’ uniforms need to be comfortable to wear, easy to maintain (wash & wear) and make the wearer feel that they are able to carry out their duties while maintaining a professional appearance. I believe it is also vital for the uniform to identify the wearer’s role in an unambiguous way.


What do you think?