Professional appearance

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    On the lighter side of nursing issues: what do you all think is an appropriate and polite way to bring up a nurse's appearance (lots of jewellery, loooooong nails, unclean shoes, etc). Or do you all not mind that? Am I just horrible and obssesive?

    I once made a nurse wash her hands before I would let her check my surgical incision because I could see she still had her foundation on from that morning. ICK!
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    I must say, I'm guilty of the non-restrained hair thing sometimes. I guess it's just my little form of post-nursing school rebellion. But I do, for the most part, wear my hear up and away from my face. ANYHOO, you could always start a casual conversation with the other nurses about what kind of 'grooming restrictions' were enforced when they were in school, or you could just flat out say that they've done multiple studies that trace all kinds of NASTY bacteria back to long nails. You could also relay a horror story about someone's big ol' earring getting ripped out of their ear by a patient (everyone has at least ONE of those stories). However, it might not work. One of our older nurses was commenting on how it's improper to scrub in for surgery if you have acrylic nails, and a nurse sitting 2 seats down from her gave her a very flippant response like, 'well, I've still got MY nails.' Hers are long, pointy, acrylic, and BRIGHT ORANGE. Some folks just don't care.
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    I work in the (conservative) midwest and we have a fairly strict dress code. The unrestrained hair thing is my pet peeve too. We have two people right now with beautiful waist length hair that they don't tie back. Working in the ER there are many occasions to get it messy with junk - if you get my drift. judi
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    Nursing is a profession, and nurses are always clammoring to be treated as professionals. It's therefore realistic to dress as professionals. Long hair should be tied back (wouldn't want my hair in "unlovely" stuff!) There have been multiple findings reporting the greater incidence of bacteria in nurse's long acrylic fingernails -- infant deaths have been linked to this (I believe there were several deaths in Texas.)Personal expression is great -- we should all be proud of who we are. When we're at work, we should always try to look professional, minimal jewelry (don't want to scratch the patients), realistic nails, hair out of face, appropriate make-up, clean/realistically neat scrubs. Let's not look generic, just professional. I usually wear SCRUBS tops different color bottoms. One day, I wore a cute white jumper & white t-shirt. One nurse asked if all my scrubs were in the wash "no one wears all white." I never do, either. Funny thing is, I got more positive comments that day from both staff and patients on how great/professional I looked. Only wear that jumper several times year -- hate wearing nylons. But what I learned was that patients really notice how we dress. Excuse me, got to tie my hair back, trim my nails, tone down my makeup, and put on my colorful iguana scrub top & purple clogs.

    [This message has been edited by susanmary (edited March 15, 2001).]
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    Hi fergus51. Image is everything. Yes, we need to play along and look the part of a professional if we want to be considered professional. I feel that your appearance is partially indicative of how serious you take your job and how you feel about yourself.
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    A lot of nurses in my unit used to wear dangly novelty-type earrings, mainly for the same reason that people wear whimsical and colorful scrubs: because it entertains the patients, who are mostly bedbound, and is a topic of conversation. Generally I don't have a problem with this. I do remember one time a nurse wore some really HUGE earrings--giant palm trees with apes hanging from the branches or something--and the charge nurse leaped in front of her as she walked from the changing room and said, "No way. Take 'em off."

    As far as the fingernail/hair/shoe/hygiene issue is concerned, why not put the onus on your hospitals' Infection Control Department to get the statistics/studies out there and educate staff on dangers and rates of nosocomial infection? That way the charge nurse or nursing peers don't have to be the bad guys, and you appeal to the person's education/professionalism/concern for patients, rather than "attacking" their vanity or sense of style.
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    I agree with most of the posters. It is important to maintain a professional appearance and that means being conservative!
    Freedom of expression is a right, but patients have a right to feel that those they entrust their health to are serious. It would be VERY hard for me, as a patient to accept a person with 2-inch acrylic nails, pierced eyebrows, nose, lip, vampire make-up and tatoos to be MY nurse! I too will wear my "Nursing" whites (all minus the bedpan hat) but only when I am Supervising--that way the patients and doctors know I am a nurse and not just an "administrative" representative!
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    We wear whites on the unit I work on...the only units to wear scrubs are SICU, L/D and PICU and MICU. We hate the whites...they get really nasty looking after a while and once you get betadine or formula on them they are trashed. As long as you are neat and tidy, who cares what color you wear...and we should all have on ID badges that identify us as RN's.

    We have a few people that don't wear their hair back and that is yukky when caring for babies...and a few that wear arcrylics...and they say that if they are wearing gloves, don't worry about it.

    Sometimes people carry the "casual" thing a bit far...we are professionals..you would never see a lawyer come in to work in his old beat up jeans!
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    Last week someone ripped out the editorial page of the AJN for this month (March 2001) and brought it in to work and posted it in the staff bathroom. It's about hand washing and the outbreak of Pseudomonis aeruginosa in an Oklahoma City NICU last year which caused 16 deaths of newborns over 15 months. It turns out that the nurses with long or artificial nails had a higher rate of colonization of P. aeruginsoa than those with short, natural nails.
    I hadn't noticed many nurses with long or artificial nails on our unit until this article was posted. Now I've suddenly become aware of the few who do, and they are all on the same shift (not mine). It should be interesting to see if they change once the article has been up a while.
    I don't see many people with too much makeup or jewelry in my unit, and the ones with long hair have hair only to their shoulders-- must be the aging population of my co-workers!
    The editorial in the AJN also encouraged handwashing; we have signs up over all of the sinks at work that you need to wash your hands long enough to sing "Twinkle, twinkle, little star" to get them clean.

    [This message has been edited by Jenny P (edited March 20, 2001).]
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    OH yes, I thought that long nails story sounded familiar.

    I am only a nursing student but I personally am not going to ever wear any artificial nails if there is even the slight possibility of harming a patient. I wouldn't think it would be worth it. THen again I have NEVER owned a pair. haha

    Kaliko


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