Is there power in the color white? - page 16

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   manettohillnurse
    So nice to see a Mr. Nurse. I personally don't think there is "power in white" It's basically how we comport ourselves and how we expect to be respected. I firmly believe that we teach people how to treat us. If we take guff then people will take advantage of us. I'm a school nurse in an affluent district where I also live. Parents are very abusive. We currently have 5 cases of head lice in school. Is it a nuisance? Of course it is. Parents assume that it started in school and if I ask them if the louse is stamped with "Parkway" that seems to diffuse the situation somewhat. But I digress. Public relations goes a long way in my job. I don't wear white, just regular clothes that are pleasing to the eye of my students who are grades 1 - 4. They love my clothes and I get a lot of positive compliments. So to go back to your original question about the power of white. Comport yourself in a professional maneer and I'm sure that you'll get the treatment you deserve. I realize that my job is much easier than being in a hospital, although I did that on a very busy Med/Surg floor of 40 people for many years. Nurses have to deal with stressed out relatives who often are reacting out of fear and are rude and just need to have things explained to them. I do feel for all of you who have frenetic days particularly during the holiday season when staff is at a minimum and you yourselves are trying to balance your home life and your professional life. Happy Holidays to all of you.
  2. by   Ruby Vee
    Quote from mr_nurse
    hey ya'll lots of great thoughts posted. my feeling is that the image of the nurse in a white dress and cap can not be the image of nursing today or the future if more men are to come into the profession. i agree with pom poms posting but also believe nurses ought to have their own professional attire if we are to be percieved as professionals and not labor staff. its tough to say if one uniform can fit all nurses in all area's. i don't believe thats possible since some deal with more body fluids than others, but i'm glad this is being debated by so many. it will hopefully lead to something most will agree with.
    [font="comic sans ms"]in order for nurses to be percieved as professionals, we need to act like professionals. professional attire, yes, but not dictated to us from "above." our own professional attire is scrubs in the color of our choosing. professionals don't let others dictate what they will wear to work, beyond the guidelines of good taste and a professional image. if "everyone" wearing scrubs like the nurses is a problem, then "everyone" should be dictated to in terms of wearing something else.

    there was a time (the same time that nurses were forced to wear white polyester dresses and white nursemates to work) when ecg techs, x-ray techs, unit secretaries, pharm techs and housekeepers wore their own uniforms to work and there was no problem distinguishing nurses from everyone else. nurses are professionals. let the support staff wear uniforms.
  3. by   CapeCodMermaid
    Yikes!!! We ALL need vacations! No offense meant to anyone, but I much prefer being a nurse today where I am NOT just the handmaiden to the doctor but can use my judgement and knowledge.....zowee...chill.
  4. by   PANurseRN1
    Quote from CapeCodMermaid
    Yikes!!! We ALL need vacations! No offense meant to anyone, but I much prefer being a nurse today where I am NOT just the handmaiden to the doctor but can use my judgement and knowledge.....zowee...chill.
    Someone needs to take your shovel away before you dig yourself an even bigger hole. Please, please, educate yourself on the history of nursing. You need it...badly.
  5. by   jjjoy
    Professional or not, uniforms serve a purpose. Police officers who police the streets wear uniforms for quick recognition. Of course, someone who's not a police officer could put on a uniform, and some do, but it still makes sense for police officers on the street to wear uniforms. Firefighters' uniforms aren't only for safety, they also reflect solidarity and teamwork. Imagine if a group of firefighters showed up in a variety of different styles and colors of safety outfits.

    The main reason I'm for some kind of uniform for general (short stay, non-pediatric) hospital units is that there are many different people coming and going, with various job roles and it's not only for patients but for other staff members to be able to distinguish who is who (at least in terms of professional roles). Having a fairly standard look among most acute care nurses makes it that much easier in different facilities to know who is who.

    There is always the problem of other groups copying a uniform. Some security guard outfits can look very similar to police officers and that can be confusing. But at least you still know (in the average situation) that the person in that uniform is on staff and is involved in a security role. Auxiliary staff in health care adopted scrubs along with nurses when scrubs made the leap from the OR to common usage in other settings.

    I don't think hospitals will be able to get staff to stick to uniforms, though, unless they provide them (in several sizes and cuts to accomodate different body types) and launder them (including ironing!). I don't see that happening.
  6. by   sweetface
    I've only read a few pages of this thread, but white is very powerful as a patient. I am just starting nursing school and I do have enough experience to know white has power... Why? Because I've been a patient. If I have been in distress and in need, I wasn't looking for "Jane Doe RN" on her jacket, I was looking for someone in white. White does have power. When it comes to men in white, I remember getting allergy shots as a kid and the male nurses wore white pants and shirts. When I think of men in white, it's certainly not One Flew Over the Cookoos Nest or the Ice Cream Man.

    I don't take it personal at all that white is subservient or whatever else I have read here. Our job as nurses, from what I can see, is that we are there for the patients, not ourselves. We are in servitude, period. If wearing white gives the patients more security, then so be it. When I see nurses wearing psychadelic scrub tops, it reminds me of pajamas and it's not professional, but it seems to be hip these days.

    Mind you all, I'm 36 and used to be a hippie girl, doing yoga 8 hours a day. I love the 'be free' movement and womens choices, but white does give respect and power. It doesn't take long to know which RN knows her stuff and which one doesn't... but wearing white still gives respect, in my neck of the woods anyway..
  7. by   sweetface
    Quote from PDXSN
    Please let's not return to the whites...I look awful in white and the stains, I can't imagine how hard it would be to keep them clean. (I don't personally want to be constantly reminded of the things that might be on my scrubs). I agree that if you introduce yourself properly and you take confident, competent care of your patients you will get the same respect. Also I did not get into this profession so people can look in awe at my nice white uniform, I got into it to help people heal and in my opinion white uniforms, normal colored hair, piercings and tattoos have no bearing on that. A warm friendly attitude, a little compassion and a good nursing practice however make a huge difference.
    Personally, I love Clorox so white is the perfect color and clorox for getting the stains out. Imagine trying to get stains out of red or another bright color? White is totally useful for this profession. I have alot of white in my house for the very same reason - Clorox takes stains out without messing up color.

    I disagree about abnormal colored hair, tattoos and so forth. If that makes the patient leary, as it would me, it would not help the patient get better. The patients emotional state has a great deal to do with recovery. I would NEVER want an RN with tattoos showing, peircings showing unless it's 1 earing per ear only, or funny hair helping me. I would loose my faith in the hospital for hiring them. Call me conservative.....

    I remember a time when displaying my independant thinking and lack of conforming was cool. But you have to grow up eventually and let go of rebelliousness. Lack of conforming and rebelliousness does not suit the medical profession well. I'm not saying a nurse should wear ALL white, but a jacket, consultation coat in white is proper.
  8. by   Roy Fokker
    We are required to wear white pants and white undershirts at work. The scrub tops can be colored.

    I agree with those who say that the problems in nursing go way beyond mere appearance (and yes, it is 'mere' appearance IMHO).

    I too, do not think going "all white" will solve or resolve anything.

    cheers,
  9. by   RNsRWe
    Quote from Roy Fokker
    We are required to wear white pants and white undershirts at work. The scrub tops can be colored.

    I agree with those who say that the problems in nursing go way beyond mere appearance (and yes, it is 'mere' appearance IMHO).

    I too, do not think going "all white" will solve or resolve anything.

    cheers,
    Yep...if wearing all white all the time would make staffing levels appropriate, sign me up! If it would keep MDs who think they are Heavenly Helpers behave respectfully toward the staff, I'd be the first in line at the White Uniform Shop. And if wearing those whites as a day-to-day uniform is what is needed to keep away ridiculous demands from patients and their families, then I'm all for it.

    As it stands now, though, I think wearing white should be as individual a choice as whether to wear blue or pink or purple. I have had TONS of respect for a nurse who happens to wear a purple scrub top with teddy bears on it (which I hate and think looks ridiculous). Another nurse, who wears all white alot, doesn't garner any more respect from me than anyone else. She's average, from what I've seen.

    If it's the color of the outfit that's the meter by which our patients judge us, it surely doesn't say much for the rest of the package we're presenting to them, does it?
  10. by   ayla2004
    white may be the traditonal colour in the usa for nurses in the uk its blue with navy for senior nurses/midwifes.
    we wear unifroms supplied by our employers either tunics or dresses, scrubs only in the ER colour coded, or OR. Some ppl still can't tell nurses from PT, OT, radiotechs etc and with the nursing assitants but howver in genearl they can.
  11. by   CapeCodMermaid
    Quote from sweetface
    I've only read a few pages of this thread, but white is very powerful as a patient. I am just starting nursing school and I do have enough experience to know white has power... Why? Because I've been a patient. If I have been in distress and in need, I wasn't looking for "Jane Doe RN" on her jacket, I was looking for someone in white. White does have power. When it comes to men in white, I remember getting allergy shots as a kid and the male nurses wore white pants and shirts. When I think of men in white, it's certainly not One Flew Over the Cookoos Nest or the Ice Cream Man.

    I don't take it personal at all that white is subservient or whatever else I have read here. Our job as nurses, from what I can see, is that we are there for the patients, not ourselves. We are in servitude, period. If wearing white gives the patients more security, then so be it. When I see nurses wearing psychadelic scrub tops, it reminds me of pajamas and it's not professional, but it seems to be hip these days.

    Mind you all, I'm 36 and used to be a hippie girl, doing yoga 8 hours a day. I love the 'be free' movement and womens choices, but white does give respect and power. It doesn't take long to know which RN knows her stuff and which one doesn't... but wearing white still gives respect, in my neck of the woods anyway..
    YOU may consider yourself to be 'in servitude" but I don't consider myself or any other nurse I know to be in servitude. We are professionals NOT servants. We are not there to wait on the patients or doctors...white,red,pink,scooby doo.....doesn't matter what you wear, it matters what you DO and THINK and how you act.
  12. by   Ruby Vee
    Quote from sweetface
    i've only read a few pages of this thread, but white is very powerful as a patient. i am just starting nursing school and i do have enough experience to know white has power... why? because i've been a patient. if i have been in distress and in need, i wasn't looking for "jane doe rn" on her jacket, i was looking for someone in white. white does have power.
    [font="comic sans ms"]with all due respect, sweetface, you're just starting nursing school. the experience you're relying on to give legitimacy to your argument is, by your own admission, experience as a patient. not as an educated healthcare professional. furthermore you've only read a few pages of this thread -- you don't even profess to have read and understood all the arguments against wearing white.

    to argue that all nurses should wear white because you looked for wearers of white when you were a patient is an argument that at the very least lacks legitimacy.


    Quote from sweetface
    i don't take it personal at all that white is subservient or whatever else i have read here. our job as nurses, from what i can see, is that we are there for the patients, not ourselves. we are in servitude, period. if wearing white gives the patients more security, then so be it. when i see nurses wearing psychadelic scrub tops, it reminds me of pajamas and it's not professional, but it seems to be hip these days.
    [font="comic sans ms"]first, you admit you haven't read anywhere near all the arguments against wearing white even in just this one thread, let alone everything else there is to read.

    second, you're just starting school and you don't have a good clear idea yet of just what constitutes the nurse's role. to say that we're subservient is a blatent idicator that you just don't get it. as you progress through your nursing program, you're going to look back at this quote and shudder in horror at your ignorance! we've all been through it, and most of us had our eyes opened at some point about just how not subservient a professional nurse is!

    wearing white is something that patients were conditioned to expect from nurses in the past. but that's in the past. if, when you finish school and start working as a nurse, you choose to wear white because you believe it makes you look more professional (or more virginal or more beautiful or whatever) be my guest. but please remember to wear the appropriate (and appropriately colored) undergarmets with your whites and make sure they're pristine.

    Quote from sweetface
    mind you all, i'm 36 and used to be a hippie girl, doing yoga 8 hours a day. i love the 'be free' movement and womens choices, but white does give respect and power. it doesn't take long to know which rn knows her stuff and which one doesn't... but wearing white still gives respect, in my neck of the woods anyway..
    [font="comic sans ms"]if you base your respect on the color of a nurse's scrubs rather than on whether she knows her stuff, you're missing the boat again. but i'm hoping that as you progress through your program, you'll "get it."

    good luck. and please let us know how you're doing.
  13. by   sweetface
    Are you not serving a patient by helping them get better?
    Are you not helping or serving a doctor by following his orders?

    I attend hospitals where a good % of the nurses are nun's. They do have an attitude of servitude and their attitudes are impeccible. Being a professional is fine, but your still in the service of another and getting paid highly for it. Doctors are also in servitude. They serve the sick patient. The whole medical staff is in service to sick patients.

    If you don't follow the doctor or help the patient get better, aren't you written up?

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