Is there power in the color white? - page 3

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   UM Review RN
    I wear navy blue a lot.

    As far as respect goes, when I identify myself, I bring my badge up close to the patient and say, "Hi, my name is SallySue and I'm your Registered Nurse tonight. JoanieJoan is your Tech. I'll be giving your medications and Joanie will be taking your vitals and helping you to the bathroom."

    The most recent challenge I had was when we had a retired doc as a patient, and he wanted to help. We had a couple of lively discussions about new treatments, and he calmed down pretty quickly and got respectful when he realized that I knew my stuff. (And a big thanks to allnurses for the info that I picked up in the IV Lovenox thread! )
  2. by   RN and Mommy
    Quote from puggymae
    I take students to clinical two days a week. I am from the "old school" - I still wear white pressed uniforms, white hose, white polished shoes and my cap. Patients often put their call light on and ask for the nurse - when their regular staff nurse goes into the room they say "Not you, the real nurse." On days that I am not there patients often ask the staff "When is the nurse going to be here?" And family members of patients from other units often come to the floor to "ask the nurse a question." I do not work with an older population - I am on an OB/Women's Health Unit. I find it amusing, the regular staff finds it annoying. I am never confused with the lab techs, house keepers, kitchen hostess, or CNA's. I am often compared to Florence Nightengale by staff nurses - a put down on their part, but I take it as a compliment.

    I do kind of agree with this, although I wouldn't like to wear white from head to toe, it seems that nurses are getting pushed aside when trying to care for patients. On more than one occasion I have had lab, physical therapy, or respiratory therapy enter the room while I was in the middle of my assessment and begin doing what they need to do. Excuse me, but I was here first and I need to do this! RN's are the center of the patients care and are often treated like they have no importance what so ever and that whoever comes in the room is more important. It just really frusturates me! I would like to be respected for who I am! I am the nurse and it is a very important part of the job and I would like to be treated like it is!
  3. by   gonzo1
    I am greatful to say that I have only rarely felt disrespected as a nurse. The times this happened it was from other nurses, management and the local drunks and drug users. Until we treat each other with respect how can we expect it from the rest of the world. The color of our scrubs is not going to help us until we support and uplift each other.
  4. by   LeahJet
    I know this may be a silly notion.......

    But male nurses dressed in all white remind me of Psych Orderlies from the 60's/70's..... ready to take down mental pts. and jab them in the leg with a "shot" and throw leather restraints on them. (One Flew Over the Cucko's Nest)
  5. by   beachmom
    Who wears uniforms? In our society those lower in the heirarchy wear the uniforms. The service workers wear uniforms, the doctors and administrators do not. I was told that going to scrubs instead of uniforms was a step up, not a step down.

    I do, however, wish we had something more than our name badge to identify ourselves to patients. I don't like wearing white, but it would be nice to at least color code ourselves so the patients can figure out who does what.

    At our hospital the housekeepers and kitchen staff wear uniforms. The lab techs wear lab coats. The OR folks (doctors, nurses, techs) wear surgical scrubs. Maternity has a uniform worn by their nurses and techs. Any men that work in that department wear surgical scrubs. (The uniforms are rather feminine.)
  6. by   Retired R.N.
    Quote from Sabrina's Mommy
    I do kind of agree with this, although I wouldn't like to wear white from head to toe, it seems that nurses are getting pushed aside when trying to care for patients. On more than one occasion I have had lab, physical therapy, or respiratory therapy enter the room while I was in the middle of my assessment and begin doing what they need to do. Excuse me, but I was here first and I need to do this! RN's are the center of the patients care and are often treated like they have no importance what so ever and that whoever comes in the room is more important. It just really frusturates me! I would like to be respected for who I am! I am the nurse and it is a very important part of the job and I would like to be treated like it is!
    After you have had some pleasant experiences with the difference in respect you get while wearing a white uniform and a cap from patients, visitors, and other staff, you just might want to admit that it's not such a bad idea after all. In time, you will probably learn to be a little more careful about many details so you don't have so many spills and don't get your cap tangled up in the curtains.
  7. by   casualjim
    As a student I dont feel qualified to talk to "what gives power" or "professionalism" in nursing.
    When I was in the military though, every once in a while someone would pull out the "professionalism drum" and beat it. What I learned in fairly short order is when they said professionalism, what they really meant was appearance. It wasnt until I had 15 or 16 years in and was a senior leader though that I learned that there was an entire world of incompetance that some people attempted tohide with a snappy crease in their pants and a good shoe shine. From that point forward my yardstick for measuring professionalism is "how professional (knowledge, demeanor,drive etc)does this person appear. You can teach a monkey to dress up fancy and shine his shoes. My thoughts,
    aloha
    Jim
  8. by   imenid37
    I really hate all white. I agree w/ people who have said that introducing yourself helps to dispell confusion. I do think elderly like the white uniforms. They like tradition. They can get used to neatly dressed people in coloured scrub clothing, especially if they are told who those people are and if they are recieving good care from those people. The lack of respect issue goes way beyond uniforms. Many of our employers have little respect for us. They create perilous situations where it is very difficult for nurses to do a good job. This increases patient dissatisfaction and increases nurses job frustration. Having to keep a cap tethered to one's head and keep white uniforms clean, white, and pressed just adds another task to our already way too long list. Dressing us all in white is just that. It is dressing, unless what is behind it is better staffing, better patient care, more time at the bedside. If that occurs care will be better no matter how we are dressed.
  9. by   mdoze911nurse
    I am somewhat amused by the talk of white getting "dirty". Although I understand white is not always a good color on some folks, I do not think there is anything wrong with a little tradition. I have to question, are we hiding 'dirty' behind colors. If a uniform is soiled then maybe we should not be wearing it. When I began nursing in the early 80's, we all wore white and I do not remember ever having to work too hard to keep it that way. Spot treating when I got home and washing usually did the trick. When I went to mother/baby (L&D back then) we wore footprints scrubs and boy did I think I was something to wear that special uniform and oddly enough when I went to ER we wore navy in the early 90's.

    The person who talked about the military and some people hiding behind a crease is right. The crease does not show what they really know but it does help the respect issue and we are talking about patient/family perceptions of the nurse not who really knows there stuff.

    I am still in ER and the hospital where I work now (as a traveler) has all RN's wearing navy blue or white. It is amazing how fast the patients/families have caught on. Techs/CNA's wear forest green and other dept wear whatever colors. However, the point is EVERYONE knows the "ladies (and men) in blue are the nurses".
  10. by   runningfool
    As casualjim said, I'm not yet qualified to talk about power and problems in nursing, but in my humble opinion I wouldn't say it's power. You're just conforming to how people think you should be or look and it makes them more comfortable to have you in the little box they want you in - that's all. Every time I read the debates about white uniforms on here and someone mentions positive reactions from the patients I think back to my sociology classes. I can't remember the concept but it's about how people unconsciously act more negative towards people who don't conform to their personal beliefs or standards in an attempt to beat them down so that they will conform. I can see that as clear as day when I read people's stories of how they were treated when they wore all white solely by the words other people use when they "compliment" the nurse when she wears white, for instance, "Now you look like a real nurse!"
    If every nurse wore white they wouldn't have any more power or be treated any better than you are now. The problems in nursing are beyond uniform colors.


    Quote from bbfw2
    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 we (the profession) seem to have gone from "thank you nurse" to being treated less than a house keeping staff (and their role is important in hospitals too). I just find patients, their families, government, even our own supervisors do not treat "hands on" nurses with the respect we deserve.
    Please be bluntly honest.
    Last edit by runningfool on Oct 8, '06
  11. by   ZASHAGALKA
    Quote from casualjim
    As a student I dont feel qualified to talk to "what gives power" or "professionalism" in nursing.
    When I was in the military though, every once in a while someone would pull out the "professionalism drum" and beat it. What I learned in fairly short order is when they said professionalism, what they really meant was appearance. It wasnt until I had 15 or 16 years in and was a senior leader though that I learned that there was an entire world of incompetance that some people attempted tohide with a snappy crease in their pants and a good shoe shine. From that point forward my yardstick for measuring professionalism is "how professional (knowledge, demeanor,drive etc)does this person appear. You can teach a monkey to dress up fancy and shine his shoes. My thoughts,
    aloha
    Jim
    We had a phrase for that in the military: screw the mission, clean your position.

    And I agree: semantics (we should change our name from 'nurse') and window dressings (let's all wear white) are not solutions, they are simply symbolism over substance.

    The only real way to BE professional is to actually be professional.
    Respect is earned, it isn't creased, pressed, or starched.

    ~faith,
    Timothy.
    Last edit by ZASHAGALKA on Oct 8, '06
  12. by   casualjim
    [QUOTE=ZASHAGALKA]We had a phrase for that in the military: screw the mission, clean your position.

    I like that, my favorite was:
    "work it may, shine it must."
    aloha
    Jim
  13. by   JMBM
    It seems to me that folks are mixing up several concepts. First, there is the "if we wear white, patients will know who is the nurse" concept. I work in a busy ER. I always introduce myself and show my name tag when I come in and then again when I finish my assessment and turn to leave. With the exception of patients with altered levels of consciousness, I've never had a patient fail to grasp that I was the nurse. Even if that weren't the case, any color scrub, so long as its consistent, would equally identify the nurse. There is nothing unique about white for identification purposes except the "old days" of the pillow-fluffing, "eat all your vegetables", bedpan carrying stereotype.....Okay, if the patient already knows who the nurse is, will white make us more respectable? Not without attitude. You could wear white, purple, pink, BDU's or a moon suit and if you act like a doormat, you'll get treated that way. In contrast, we've all seen that overweight, short grandmothery RN with big hair and little glasses in teddy bear scrubs who can wade into a chaotic code and in five minutes have it straightened out with the doctor asking her how to proceed. As cops say, its all in the eyes and tone of voice. Okay, if the patient already knows who the nurse is and the nurse has a professional attitude, will a uniform help make us more respectable? I haven't seen any studies, but from my experience (in white-required, certain color required, no restrictions), white had zero effect over navy or royal scrubs and I can't feel any difference even over printed scrubs. Now, if wearing white helps you feel more professional, by all means wear it. Mine went into the donation bin.

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