Is there power in the color white? - page 9

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   patricelynne
    I graduated from the last hospital-based three year class at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. [Now they have BSN and beyond programs there.]Graduating out of our "blues" into our whites was still a big deal for many of us in the 70s. I loved our graduate cap and was one of two who still wore them in the 90s at Providence. People commented on it AND on the fact that I wore my school pin, above my name badge. Even wearing scrubs I wore my pin. I noted when we were in Norway once, touring the hospital a friend practiced in that all the nurses wore white scrubs, and had their school pins on. Another scrub color meant one was an aide, or housekeeping. The hospital provided the scrubs, laundered and ironed them so no wrinkles. Looked about as good as you're going to get in this day and age of scrubs. The white, to my way of seeing things made the nurses more recognizeable and honored the training and experience. I can pass on the cap now, but I like my white scrubs and pin. Took a lot of work to earn them! I don't mind caring for them as I can get stains out better and iron them. Call me old-fashioned, but I agree w/ the nurse who pointed out the unis that police and firefighters wear---the recognizability factor. I guess I see a way to compromise so people can have their scrubs and whites at the same time!
  2. by   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.
  3. by   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.
    Last edit by PDXSN on Oct 19, '06
  4. by   SylviaC
    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.
    I don't think white has anything to do with "power". If you aren't getting respect from your own supervisors, I think the supervisors have a problem. I have found no matter what color you wear if you do a good job of nursing, caring for your patients, answering their questions and making them feel as if they are your priority (which they should be) you will have respect.

    They (the facility I work at) has just instituted a dress code. We can wear all white or mix and match white and navy blue. This was done because the higher escehlon thought the patients couldn't tell nurses from housekeepers, but now the maintenace personnel wear navy blue also , so now we get mixed up with maintenace. No biggy as far as I'm concerned I just still try to do a good job at nursing and most of my patients are very appreciative.
    Med-Surg RN:wink2:
  5. by   8vincent8
    I am a male nurse and used to hate the idea of wearing a white uniform as it seemed to be efiminate in some way to me, which is only my opinion and others would disagree which is fine.

    Through most of the ten years practising i have worn navy with white shirts but even then some patients mistook me for security or a Dr, i even had one patient in the community who thought i was there to read the gas meter.

    as the population ages i think the white expectation will diminish, but the corporate uniform that most nurses wear which is not disimilar to clerical staff etc needs to be looked at i think.

    it is hard enough for a patient going through thier ilness to have to identify who is who aswell.

    overall i think a white pressed top for male and female with a freindly smile is the way to go.
  6. by   dauschundlover
    I've never been one to believe that the uniform makes the nurse. When I started out working in the ICU we wore hospital supplied scrubs. One day we started wearing white tennis shoes to work, they were comfortable and who ever really sees your feet. Well nursing administration had a fit. We were told we had to were the traditional white nursing shoe. To this day I can't figure out how any of my patients would have passed judgement on my ability as a nurse because of my choice of shoes. Another thought is that I have come in contact with many a doctor dressed in street clothes who if I passed them on the street would have probably given them a hand out, but no one ever mentions their attire and how it can be preceived. If your patients confuse you with housekeeping then maybe you didn't introduce yourself on first meeting. And yes the older population would still like to see their nurses in starched white uniforms, but again as long as I'm dressed neatly and in accepted professional attire and maintain the dress code I would hope that my demeanor and knowledge will indicate my role in a persons care. Respect isn't gained from what you wear it's gained by how you treat people and how your treated.
  7. by   BSNtobe2009
    Everytime I see the cartoon print tops, I keep thinking back when the only people in the hospital that wore those was usually at the bottom of the hospital totum pole, nurses just didn't wear them.

    Gee, does that give away my age?
  8. by   BSNtobe2009
    Quote from 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.
    Now, I'll admit here that I saw this in a movie, but I can TOTALLY see where this could really happen in real hospital setting....

    There was a doctor that was new to a hospital, and their ER was completely slammed with several seriously injured patients from a car accident...the doctor needed some help with the patient (who was starting to crash), and was screaming for a nurse to come over to help.

    A woman walked by wearing scrubs and the doctor said, "You, come over immediately, I need your help!"

    She walked over to the patient...only for the doctor to discover she was only a volunteer.

    THAT would be a huge issue in large hospitals with not having uniforms to identify nurses.
  9. by   BSNtobe2009
    The military is different. To the extent that the Navy has a 'white' uniform, it is worn by all service members so it is not a good example of setting apart RNs.

    Besides, and a Navy Nurse can correct me if I'm wrong, but such uniforms are 'dress' uniforms and are not necessary worn for duty.

    For the purposes of this discussion, and the perceived goals of wearing white, it's apples and oranges.

    ~faith,
    Timothy.



    I disagree with you. Clothing is extremely important to people's perception, and this is true among many cultures.

    Can you imagine, turning on TV and seeing Congress having a session during the summer with all the men in khakis, golf shirts, shorts and baseball caps? How can you see someone as an authority figure if the don't dress the part...this is EXACTLY why the military has uniforms, and the uniforms, ribbons and stripes show everyone, exactly who that person is, because it is very important for others to know that as well, and not just for rank.

    Would you go to a job interview wearing your Saturday afteroon casual clothes? If dress is not important, then why would it matter to you? Doesn't your work experience, killer resume, and awesome interviewing skills speak enough of your ability as a nurse to where you don't really need to dress to impress?

    CNN Headline news, changed their format about a year ago to show younger, hipper, casually dressed newscasters. Their ratings quickly went down. After a few months of low ratings, they went back to their picture perfect model-type, suited newscasters....and then their ratings went right back up.

    Yeah, clothes do matter.
  10. by   Knoodsen
    I agree that we lack respect. However, it is not only the patients, physicians, and administrators; we nurses do not seem to respect each other either. As I see it, the situation is that the times are umm ........... generally nasty (someone has already pointed out that we live in disrespectful times) and, on top of that, we have a particularly dysfunctional profession. That is because of the type of people that become nurses. All trades have their "jerk to jewel ratio". My point is that our ratio is way too >1. I do not believe that wearing white uniforms would change anything.
  11. by   hcmanp
    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.
    One year I wore my "old school" uniform, cap, hose and shoes, to work on Halloween...the trashman on my way out of the driveway said "It's been a long time since I saw a real nurse", and how great he thought it looked, and one of the doctors said, he thought it was "about time" nurses looked like nurses again, and he wished I would wear the outfit every day! At the time I thought it was funny (especially since the cap kept getting in the way - just like old times), but now I kind of wonder...
  12. by   SpaceshuttleRN
    I have to say that I feel we have done it to ourselves. I liked getting out of white uniforms also, but as an experiment went back to a white uniform and yes a cap also. I have to agree that it commands respect. I also had the experience of being thought of as "the real nurse". You can be a professional and highly skilled, but just as a person before me said, you know when the judge walks into a courtroom, who he is. The same is true of nursing. We may like the varied colors and feel that a white uniform and cap should not be needed to show that we know what we are doing, but it is a symbol of our profession and it is respected. We never used to be confused for house keepers of CNAs. I like being in colors and capless also, but realistically I know that that is not what the public wnats or respects.
  13. by   Ruby Vee
    Quote from patricelynne
    i graduated from the last hospital-based three year class at johns hopkins hospital in baltimore. [now they have bsn and beyond programs there.]graduating out of our "blues" into our whites was still a big deal for many of us in the 70s. i loved our graduate cap and was one of two who still wore them in the 90s at providence. people commented on it and on the fact that i wore my school pin, above my name badge. even wearing scrubs i wore my pin. i noted when we were in norway once, touring the hospital a friend practiced in that all the nurses wore white scrubs, and had their school pins on. another scrub color meant one was an aide, or housekeeping. the hospital provided the scrubs, laundered and ironed them so no wrinkles. looked about as good as you're going to get in this day and age of scrubs. the white, to my way of seeing things made the nurses more recognizeable and honored the training and experience. i can pass on the cap now, but i like my white scrubs and pin. took a lot of work to earn them! i don't mind caring for them as i can get stains out better and iron them. call me old-fashioned, but i agree w/ the nurse who pointed out the unis that police and firefighters wear---the recognizability factor. i guess i see a way to compromise so people can have their scrubs and whites at the same time!
    [font="comic sans ms"]if the hospital is going to buy, launder and press my scrubs, i'll wear whatever color they choose to put me in. however, if i'm doing the buying and upkeep, i'll choose. nurses who feel they get more respect when they wear white should be free to wear white -- all the time if they choose. and if they feel that the cap adds to their prestige, i have nothing against them wearing it.

    however, i choose to earn respect with my knowlege base and professionalism, and i'll be damned if i'm going to let anyone tell me what color to wear unless they're providing it!

    mandatory white seems to be yet another way of telling nurses we don't matter, aren't able to direct ourselves as a profession and can't even be trusted to choose something appropriate to wear to work! can you say opression anyone?

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