What a riot! I'm spending about a day shopping for uniforms. After several years in management, the shortstaffing is making it necessary for me to pitch in informally on the units (I always have, anyways.) My agency likes its nurse managers to look "corporate"--just try running to a code in high heels!
Anyways, after being spewed with multiple body fluids last week I decided to pitch the business clothes and go back to whites. My agency is offering the nurses the option of whites or one color (to be specified later this month) scrubs
. While shopping for whites I was shocked at the crummy selection--I remember when uniforms looked crisp and attractive rather than like potato sacks. And, yes, I'm old enough to remember mandatory caps--I was in the service and when I got out the first time I was "written up" was when I responded to an emergency (before the start of my shift) without my cap!
One (male) nurse I was in the service with was constantly being called "doc," "orderly," "corpsman," or "medic." He was upset about this since these are all nicknames for a hospitalmate (an enlisted man) and Joe had worked long and hard to get his nursing degree and, by extension, his commission. He was incensed that I was readily identifiable as a nurse and an officer, whereas he would take grief from enlisted patients who were healthy enough to do so. One time I recall that an injured Marine lieutenant started barking at Joe, who curtly informed the lieutenant that he (Joe) outranked him, and that he was a nurse. The burly Marine said, "Well, nursey, where's your cap?" (This was 1972.)
Joe didn't miss a beat--he said, "The Navy won't issue us caps--they're insisting on white berets!"
Really, I do feel that as much as I hated wearing the damn thing, it made me instantly recognizable as a nurse. Recently I was hospitalized for a mild heart attack. Through the morphine-induced haze I saw various people in various outfits waft past my bedside. I suppose they were "color-coded", but dipped if I knew what color stood for whom! I had to squint to read job titles on nametags, so I never really knew if I was reporting chest pain or palpitations to an RN, an aide, a housekeeper, or a dietary technician. And I'd be more sophisticated than the average patient.
We always used to say, in the seventies, "it's not what you wear on your head, it's what you have in your head that counts." But I really don't know how we can make sure that our patients can identify us as nurses.