Is there power in the color white? - page 10

Hi all. I'm looking for some opinions on whether you believe that returning to wearing all white uniforms might give us back some power. Now let me explain power. I've been an RN for 21 years and... Read More

  1. by   Ruby Vee
    Quote from softstorms
    i have been reading many posts here. most seem to want white to be recognized as a nurse, others want color to be free of the sigma attached to the white uniform. i think most of us are a little tired of the "quick fix" in hospitals and ltc of putting all staff in scrubs. i have worked in many different areas and i do know that being recognized as a nurse is important.
    we have all worked very hard to become what we are and we do not like being confused with the support staff we have. ( i will be the first one to say my support staff is as important to the wellbeing of my pts. as i am) but i will have family member approach a floor tech who is walking by and ask for a bedpan for a pt. because they all dress in scrubs. recognition is important for both family members and patients. i do not want the hats and white hose back, but i do feel we should have a uniform that separates us from the rest of the staff.
    i[font="comic sans ms"] would disagree that "most" seem to want the color white.

    if the issue is recognition, then perhaps put the support staff -- secretaries, pharm techs, dietary, supply ass0ciates in uniforms or something other than scrubs. those who are not doing direct patient care don't need to be wearing scrubs anyway. or put housekeeping in one color, dietary in another, etc. etc. but we nurses, as professionals, ought to be able to choose what to wear to work!
  2. by   PaulaP
    Quote from Quilternurse
    I guess my old fashioned thought behind Nurses wearing a white uniform is more of a respect and professional attitude. I mean... what next... Police and Firemen not wearing uniforms ? Think about it... The White uniform is / was a well earned respectable symbol of a Nurse... much like other professional uniforms. The white uniform had a "healing effect" of its own ... when a patient would see a Nurse in his / her uniform the patient would feel safe and re-assured that he/she was getting professional nursing care. Fact is... Now-a-days the patient really doesn't know who the nurse is unless the patient can see the ID badge.

    So... I am curious... how many nurses in this thread actually wore a white uniform during some part of their nursing career? How many Nurses here graduated and then went to work in a colorful uniform ? Did any new Nurses EVER get to wear a white uniform ?
    I started out wearing white and a cap in the late '70's. I was very proud of my "uniform" at the time. At the hospital I work at back then everyone on the floor wore white and wearing a cap was what distinguished the RN's from the aides. Then, the hospital gave the aides a 6 week training course and guess what? They got a cap at the end of their training! Talk about a slap in the face! So, everyone wore white and everyone had a cap and you couldn't tell anyone apart except for the name tag.

    I now work in the hospital based LTC facility and we can wear almost anything we want but our shoes have to be white-go figure. I wear many colorful scrub outfits that I sew myself and constantly recieve comments on how great my outfits are from family members and our residents. I believe my professional conduct speaks for itself and I always introduce myself as a registered nurse to our new admits and their families.

    We do have one RN who still wears her cap to work. We graduated from the same SON about a year apart. Her cap is irreplaceable at this point because our SON no longer gives out caps- just the school pin!
  3. by   RN4ARMY
    I prefer digital camo. T.V. and popular culture have brought the general public to recognize the white uniform. It's time to change. It's my generation that will determine the face of nursing for the next 30 years. No longer is nursing a strictly female job and we don't need white uniforms. It's not 1965. Also, hate the term, "male nurse," but that's another topic.
  4. by   manettohillnurse
    i'm from the "old school". i was recently in the hospital and found it difficult to differentiate between an aide, a technician or whomever. i was relieved that i no longer needed to wear a cap as it always seemed to get in the way of the curtains and often landed on the floor, but i liked wearing white uniforms especially when we were able to wear pantsuits. i too have looked at catalogs and some of the tops are a little over the top. having said that, i think that white can be intimidating on a peds floor, so i do support wearing an appropriate top and white pants.
  5. by   Demonsthenes
    In ancient Rome, only those of the upper classes were allowed to wear an all white toga. Therefore, I would suggest that all nurses wear a white lab jacket over civilian clothes. I do not like wearing an all white uniform. However, a white lab jacket has, as per the above, positive implications as to the status of the wearer (nurse or doctor). While an all white uniform has a negative implication for the wearer implying a servile status (like a maid).
  6. by   bbfw2
    Quote from kepschafer
    G'Day,

    In Australia you would be hard pressed to find any hospital left where nurses where any white, let alone all white. I think that the word 'power' is negative and we should never assume that we have 'power' over our patients. The trend that I see in the forum is related to 'respect or regard' rather than 'power'.

    In Australia our peak nursing body - the Royal College of Nursing, Australia - promotes itself as the 'Ultimate Nursing Professionals'. I disagree with this however. As a student I exchanged to the US and found that US nurses are regarded as true professionals. In the community nurses are respected in the US. In terms of your yearly salary you are remunerated accordingly for the difficult and important role you play in the provision of healthcare. This is not the same in Australia - heck, teachers are paid more than we are as nurses! Nursing in Australia is not seen as an important profession in the community - being a nurse is 'nice' not 'oh wow, a nurse - what an important job you have'. We are para-professionals in Australia - not quite there. Whether that has anything to do with not wearing white uniforms I am not sure. My current uniform is a red shirt and charcoal pants with black shoes - someone in the forum suggested red as a colour of power - I disagree - it doesn't give me any power.

    The thing about uniforms that I don't like in Australia is that often the Patient Care Assistants wear the same or similar uniform as nurses and this causes confusion with the patients as to who the care giver is. I think that a uniform colour is not about power but rather about identification as the Nurse set aside from the other healthcare workers in the hospital. And ultimately a uniform should provide professionalism and respect for the knowledge and skills you have as a RN - not power.

    Cheers

    Keppel
    I certainly never thought "power over our patients". I'm speaking of the broader sense of the word.
    Nurses have the ablitiy, the power, to affect change in the health care (how it's done) and the health care system on a world wide scale. Not gods, not dictators, but we are in a unique situation where by what we say AND do can make huge differences in the health status of the world.
    Think on that point.

    Wendy
  7. by   Warpster
    NO!!

    A hospital I worked in many years ago experimented with abandoning the nurses' dress code. Nurses who wore business clothing with lab coats noted an immediate increase in respect from doctors and patients. Nurses who opted for scrubs and lab coats noticed a smaller but still noticeable increase in respect. Nurses who remained in white continued to be disrespected as glorified waitresses.

    White is miserable to wear, miserable to keep clean, miserable on public transit to and from work, and miserable because it's a beacon for all sorts of lunatics out there. Face it, we have to work too hard and crawl around on the floor too much to wear white.

    The only time I found a white uniform to be an advantage is with one Alzheimer's patient who responded well to white scrubs but not to blue ones. That's one patient in 25 years.

    The worst thing the profession can do is play dressup with us, making us resentful and humiliated. That on top of the brutal working conditions will continue to worsen an already bad nursing shortage.
  8. by   gonzo1
    I work at a hospital with virtually no dress code, esp at night. A couple of the ER nurses wear very tight/see through knit tops and hip hugger bottoms that you can see their colorful bikini thong underpants riding above the waist of. I sure wish they wouldn't do that. I hate to have the idea of porn nurse conveyed but "oh well".
  9. by   BSNtobe2009
    Quote from RN4ARMY
    I prefer digital camo. T.V. and popular culture have brought the general public to recognize the white uniform. It's time to change. It's my generation that will determine the face of nursing for the next 30 years. No longer is nursing a strictly female job and we don't need white uniforms. It's not 1965. Also, hate the term, "male nurse," but that's another topic.
    If you have ever talked to someone that has been in nursing for 40+ years, they will tell you there was a time when nurses were just a step above the orderlies and the doctor's treated them as "hired help". It was a profession that single women went into when they didn't want to be school teachers and wanted to make more than a secretary.

    The nursing profession has worked decades to increase the prestige of nursing and to be seen as a highly educated, highly successful, highly skilled healthcare professional.

    However, with all of the new variations of nursing and the hospitals cutting back on staff, etc. They still needed to have the appearance of being a well-staffed hospital...that is when the "dress code" changed to scrubs for everyone, whether you were housekeeping or the DOR.

    That, isn't a good thing. I don't believe that they have to go back to all-white, but something really needs to be done to distinguish those that do have the skilled jobs.
    Last edit by BSNtobe2009 on Oct 19, '06
  10. by   catinacatina
    I think the issue in nursing is not about the white uniform but more about respecting the profession and making sure you always carry yourself in a professional manner when performing the duties of the profession. Even though the white uniform is recognized world wide as the symbol of a nurse there is so much more to being a nurse than the white uniform. Maybe one of these days all nurses will share what for them is the symbol of nursing. For me nursing is respect starts in one self and is reflected in the care one provides on a daily basis. When each and every one of us respects the profession; the profession will be respected by all that work with those who represent the profession.
  11. by   CHorn71
    Puggymae - thank you :wink2: I am a student and one of my instructors still wears her whites with pride. I intend on doing the same upon passing my boards because there is something to be said for tradition. I currently work in a hospital that has a dress code (nurses - royal blue and white, PCAs - tan, Housekeeping - teal, etc) it is more for the patient than anyone but nice to easily recognize who can help in a crisis and who can help me with the trash
  12. by   whyfret
    I am taking a class in Professional Socialization and have reflected on this topic in length recently. My personal experience lends me to report that wearing a white uniform or white pants with a casual top does indeed make a difference. Acually, it makes a difference on how I feel about myself.

    I have had two consecutive postions where administration dictated that the nurses wear "street clothes". I have been confused as a patient in one setting and a social worker in the other setting. Just recently, I bought white nursing pants because I am shadowing a nurse for a class project. Immediately, I began to "feel" like a nurse. How I feel when I wear "whites" is comparable to how I feel when I wear a black dress or formal attire. My body posturing, my thought processes conform to the occasion.

    I find it very difficult to discern "who is who" when I enter a medical facility these days. One thing that does not seem to change; the physicians and administrative nurses wear lab coats over their "street clothes" and this definitely differentiates them from the technical nurses in scrub jackets!
  13. by   casualjim
    Quote from whyfret
    I am taking a class in Professional Socialization and have reflected on this topic in length recently. My personal experience lends me to report that wearing a white uniform or white pants with a casual top does indeed make a difference. Acually, it makes a difference on how I feel about myself.

    :
    Absolutely! This is something I noticed on a daily basis when I was in the service. When I wore "operator clothes" i.e. BDUs, boots etc. I carried myself a lot more casually than I did when I wore a dress uniform. When you're feeling "spiffy" you carry yourself with a little more dignity, people do not give you more respect, you command more respect. Even now with me being retired from the service with long hair and all that stuff, when I teach a class I can command the attention of my students solely on how I carry myself. All these pages on this topic are starting to give me that "re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic" feeling. The whole, we must return to whites, whites will save our dignity line. I'm not buying it. What gets you dignity is acting dignified. Again, just my thoughts,
    aloha
    Jim

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