Even though white starched caps and dresses are a matter of nursing history, the media still commonly portrays nurses in these uniforms. This makes sense if you think about it. A nurse wearing regular scrubs of any generic color might be mistaken for a doctor, respiratory, therapist, or maybe even an aide or housekeeping. So when Hollywood wants a viewer to instantly identify a person as a nurse, they put them in a white button up dress and crisp white cap.
I know that many do not share my opinion in this, but I often long for those white uniforms. Though admittedly I became a nurse long after they went out of favor. So I would imagine that if it were something forced upon me as a way to oppress me my fondness for them would likely drastically decline. As much as I can appreciate having the freedom to choose scrubs in a variety of styles colors, deep down inside I admire the association of wearing white with the nursing profession. But it’s not the oppression or rigidity of nursing days gone by that I romanticize. It’s the image of strong, stoic women with integrity that just leaps off the page of the images of nursing days gone by.
White Nursing Uniforms and Scrubs
White symbolizes purity, honesty, cleanliness, and a plethora of characteristics that ones want in a nurse. And yes, I know that nurses are often held to an impossibly high standard of perfection, but I am a firm believer of shooting for the moon. At the very least you will land among the stars.
I think nurses should strive for greatness and all those things that we are positively identified with.
According to color-wheel-pro.com:
White is associated with light, goodness, innocence, purity, and virginity. It is considered to be the color of perfection.
White means safety, purity, and cleanliness. As opposed to black, white usually has a positive connotation. White can represent a successful beginning. In heraldry, white depicts faith and purity.
In advertising, white is associated with coolness and cleanliness because it’s the color of snow. You can use white to suggest simplicity in high-tech products. White is an appropriate color for charitable organizations; angels are usually imagined wearing white clothes. White is associated with hospitals, doctors, and sterility, so you can use white to suggest safety when promoting medical products. White is often associated with low weight, low-fat food, and dairy products.
Patients could easily identify their nurses when they were all wearing the same color.
Unfortunately, these days, the nursing community often frowns upon white uniforms. They’re a relic. This is partially because of the impossibility of keeping it clean and because of the backwards images of nursemaids the suites helped to enforce.
A solution can be found, however, to both unify professionals and improve the recognition of nurses among patients.
Change the color.
Increasingly hospitals and healthcare organizations are having their nurses wear matching uniforms but going away from the traditional white. Instead, blue seems to be the scrub color of choice.
Blue Nursing Uniforms and Scrubs
One of the most common color choices for nursing scrubs these days is blue, and more specifically caribbean blue scrubs. The symbolism of the color blue has many similarities to the color white. Many of these are characteristics that are also associated with the nursing profession.
Blue is the color of the sky and sea. It is often associated with depth and stability. It symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, and heaven.
Blue is considered beneficial to the mind and body. It slows human metabolism and produces a calming effect. Blue is strongly associated with tranquility and calmness. In heraldry, blue is used to symbolize piety and sincerity.
You can use blue to promote products and services related to cleanliness (water purification filters, cleaning liquids, vodka), air and sky (airlines, airports, air conditioners), water and sea (sea voyages, mineral water). As opposed to emotionally warm colors like red, orange, and yellow; blue is linked to consciousness and intellect. Use blue to suggest precision when promoting high-tech products.
Blue is a masculine color; according to studies, it is highly accepted among males. Dark blue is associated with depth, expertise, and stability; it is a preferred color for corporate America.
Avoid using blue when promoting food and cooking, because blue suppresses appetite. When used together with warm colors like yellow or red, blue can create high-impact, vibrant designs; for example, blue-yellow-red is a perfect color scheme for a superhero.
Light blue is associated with health, healing, tranquility, understanding, and softness.
Dark blue represents knowledge, power, integrity, and seriousness.
Blue nursing scrubs are also obviously much easier to keep clean and looking professional.
A downfall is that in order to maintain color conformity, your hospital may choose to go with one specific brand. For example, I have noticed several organizations using Dickies royal blue scrubs as their nursing uniform of choice. But don’t let this disappoint you. You do not have to buy scrubs from your overpriced hometown retailer. You can order scrubs online and save bunches and get the same great quality likely a much wider selection.
Since hospitals have gotten with the program and are unifying the look of nurses without oppressing them, this leads us to question Hollywood when will they get in line with the times on nursing uniforms?
Poll the Audience
What are your thoughts on the trend of nursing uniforms transitioning from white as a standard to blue as the color of choice? What do you think about the media portrayal of nurses? Sound off the in the comments below.