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Why Are Nursing Uniforms Scrubs?

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Every time you go to the hospital, you’ve probably noticed that while not everyone is wearing the same pattern, they’re often all wearing scrubs. You may ask: Why are nursing uniforms scrubs? Sometimes, even the non-clinical employees wear them. So why is it that hospitals usually have policies stating that nurses must wear scrubs?

Nursing Uniforms Scrubs

While the scrubs nurse’s wear in a hospital might look like any other employee, many healthcare organizations make efforts to ensure that nurses look different than other staff. Some hospitals go as far as having a different color of scrubs for LPNs, RNs, and NPs. While the patient may not know what each color means initially, patient communication boards in rooms can clearly make the distinction helping patients to know who they should be asking for assistance.

Scrubs make nurses and other healthcare staff easy to identify

Primarily it’s because we expect healthcare workers to be in scrubs, which means it is easier to quickly identify a health care employee in times of emergency. This set of clothing is immediately associated with healthcare work, which is one of the reasons employees like recreational therapists tend to wear street clothes. When we see a white coat, we think doctor. When we see someone in scrubs, most think of a nurse or nurse’s aide.

Scrubs are easy to wash

Considering the amount of bodily fluids, dirt, and other grime a healthcare worker might come in contact with, a uniform that is easy to wash is a necessity. With good scrubs, it’s possible to get even some of the toughest stains out. And as a patient, the last thing you would want to see is a healthcare worker with stained clothing! Not all scrubs are as cleanable as others, though, which is why hospitals pick a style like Grey’s Anatomy scrubs and stick with it.

Scrubs Conceal Stains

While it may be tempting to go and clean your scrubs every time they got dirty, it’s not possible, especially when things get busy. So healthcare workers need some clothing that can seem clean, even when that’s not necessarily the case. Patterns help with this, as well as certain colors, which is why it’s not uncommon to see “fun” scrubs or darker ones, in addition to the traditional blue.

They’re cheap to replace

Despite how easy they are to launder, scrubs can sometimes be stained irrevocably or wear out with extended use. Scrubs are often more affordable than most people’s street clothes (although fancier options can be bought at a higher price, if the employee is allowed to choose their scrubs). Most scrubs are created with simple patterns, fabrics, and styles. When you couple that with mass production you cab get scrubs tops and bottoms for less than $25 a piece. An entire scrubs wardrobe including great nursing shoes can be had for less than $300.

Really scrubs are a blessing to most nurses as it’s basically the equivalent of getting to work in pajamas. The fact that nursing uniforms scrubs allow nurses to move freely to provide the best patient care is a huge benefit. Of course, some hospitals have even more reasons to keep people in scrubs. If you need to wear scrubs to work, it’s important to remember that not all scrubs are created equal. Cheap scrubs may not be the best option. When you’re looking for the best scrubs, you need to consider a variety of factors. Grey’s Anatomy scrubs are great. There are more affordable scrubs, but they may sacrifice quality and style.

Not All Scrubs are Made the Same

If you’ve ever asked yourself “Are designer scrubs worth it?” Then you may want to spend a little time learning about what attributes the best scrubs have. There are many popular scrub brands including:

Make Sure You Can Wear Your Scrubs

Make sure that your scrubs conform to your hospital dress code. Many hospitals have not only mandated a certain color, but also a brand so they can be sure that all scrubs truly match. Royal blue and Caribbean blue scrubs can actually vary pretty greatly from brand to brand. You may have to wear a solid color on your unit, but have exceptions during the holidays that all you to wear Christmas scrubs.

Get Your Own Grey’s Anatomy Scrubs

Since your nursing uniforms scrubs are so easy to interchange, consider picking up an extra set.

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5 thoughts on “Why Are Nursing Uniforms Scrubs?”

  1. I know this is a comment on a long ago blog post for you, but as a CTRS, I would like to say that Recreational Therapists are just as much a part of the healthcare team as other specialties. In a hospital setting, a Recreational Therapist would have the same expectation of wearing scrubs as a physical therapist or a nurse. At the hospital nearest me, CTRSs even have their own designated colour of scrubs. Sorry for that random flashback to 2013, but i’m passionate about being equally respected as a member of the clinical team, and statements like yours above hinder that goal. (And I couldn’t imagine working in street clothes in a hospital, just no.) Otherwise i’m really enjoying your blog (thus my making it all the way back to 2013 lol).

    1. Recreational Therapists are as much a part of the team. The comment was not made to be less than respectful for therapists, but rather just pointing out how things are done around me, and in many areas. In my experiences, recreational therapists do wear street clothes. I’m glad there are hospitals that are now having them dress in their own colored scrubs.

  2. Pingback: Minimize the Powerpoint: Utilizing Education to Stop Nurse Horizontal Violence - The Nerdy Nurse

  3. June DeAngelis, RN

    This is a great article to promote discussions about why we need alternatives to scrubs. I’m in my third year of research and development to provide something new for healthcare professionals! Brenda June is providing beautiful and ‘smart’ apparel for nurses and professionals. We need to be differentiated from all other auxilliary hospital staff for a number of reasons. Our career choice is to provide professional hands-on care to patients. The patients need to know who we are! We have a duty to uphold a professional image, and scrubs does not provide that. As a nurse, I started my company with a purpose to’ raise the bar’ of professionals….to take back the pride of our profession. By a twist of fate, my focus changed when my sister acquired c-diff during a hospital stay for a kidney stone. Not only should healthcare professionals have the ability to look great, fashionable and professional, they need the most innovative fabrics available in the textile industry to reduce the spread of infection.
    It concerns me that some like their scrubs because they hide the stains. This is exactly why we are promoting white uniforms. You and your patients should both be aware of bodily fluids that are present on your uniforms. I agree that we need to get stains out, but more importantly is killing the pathogens that you carry from room to room and home to your family. BLEACH is the only thing that will kill resistant strains of c-diff and MRSA. Most scrubs cannot be bleached because they are NOT white and come in multiple colors and designs. Brenda June is introducing a fabric that is manufactured in the USA and patented. Chlorine bleach is impregnated into the fabric at a molecular level and is recharged every time you bleach it. This is providing a barrier and reduces cross-contamination.
    Your article is correct when stating that scrubs are cheap and easily replaced. We get what we pay for, and some positions in the auxillary staff require nothing more. Brenda June products are 100% made in the USA, not just sewn here. Our textiles are exclusive to our brand. Our apparel is original, not unisex, fashionable, comfortable, breathable and beautiful! You have a choice! Put a face on your profession. We’re getting ready to launch a national campaign to elevate your image. Visit our site at brendajune.com and tell us what you want! You have a voice here, and we are listening!

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