Hospital goes back to white dresses/caps - page 10

by PureLifeRN | 15,246 Views | 91 Comments

At JFK Medical Center, health care reform is already under way, in the shape of a traditional white nurse's cap. The nurses in the Atlantis hospital's cardiovascular step-down unit have temporarily tossed their royal blue... Read More


  1. 0
    Quote from CatherineA
    There is an answer to every objection voiced here.

    1. Male nurses have never been forced to wear caps. Why should they be forced to wear them now? They could be identified by a unique uniform style, a school pin, and/or a military-style stripe or insignia on one sleeve, something similar to the cap band. Since most nurses are still female, this is not a huge issue in any event.
    To be fair the number of "male nurses" outside the military (and even then) has historically been rather small.

    Most all male medical, nursing and dental personnel wore "Dr. Kildare" type tunics with white pants.

    Males never wore the sort of headgear adapted into nurse's caps, so there wasn't any need nor cause for them to have.
    Quote from CatherineA

    2. If you don't like a particular style of cap, or it doesn't fit you well, simply try a different one. The tradition was to wear the cap used by your school, but that was never an absolute. Some caps do resemble a maid's cap, but the more typical, traditional cuffed cap has never been regarded by most people as a symbol of subservience. In fact, it's history can be traced to both religious orders and to the military. Nothing to be ashamed of there. But there are others that resemble small mortarboards, such as the Jacksonville (AL) State University cap, or the old Johns Hopkins cap, if you want a more intellectual/academic look.
    While no one would object to the various generic caps sold by Kay's and other sources, there is a *very* powerful feeling amoung some schools and their grads that only those entitled to wear their cap should do so. Just try getting your hands on a Bellevue or some of the more famous schools with restrictions on whom can get their mitts on said cap. IIRC while Kay's Caps does have patterns for many schools, by agreement they will only sell caps from certain programs to proven grads.

    I'm not saying someone may call you out on the matter, or knock the offending item off your head in the cafeteria...


    Quote from CatherineA
    3. Caps can be washed, and it really is not that much trouble. But they don't have to be washed every day. Why do some people worry so much about cap germs, but not about hair germs, or ID card germs, or jacket/sweater/lab coat germs? How about your eyeglasses? Your makeup? Your false eyelashes? Your jewelry? Your fingernails and nail polish? This is a bogus argument used almost exclusively by those who are down on the caps. Nurses who are not working in an OR setting are not required to be sterile; just clean. They can practice sterile technique when necessary whether wearing a cap or not.
    According to Kay's, caps with the "Perma-Starch" label should not be washed, and most certainly not starched and or ironed. They recommend wiping down with a damp sponge or cloth, then air drying. Suppose one could hand wash/soak the cap, then lay it flat to dry (or against the fridge as many did in the day), but it might not look correct afterwards.

    Quote from CatherineA
    4. "White uniforms" doesn't have to mean dresses with pantyhose. It can mean a white top/tunic with white pants, or white scrubs. For many years, female nurses had this option and there is no reason why they should not still have it if their agency returns to whites.
    Agreed, the only problem is like many things involving textiles in the United States, things aren't what they once were.

    The almost wholesale switch to scrubs either put some historically famous uniform makers out of business, or what is produced pales to offerings from as recently as the 1980's. White Swan, Barco et al had some wonderful little numbers.

    Even student nurse uniforms have been affected. Years ago most every school had some sort of distinctive uniform (action back often included ). But today from what one can see around NYC, those that haven't gone to scrubs wear the same common blue with whit bib number. The same thing housekeeping at Lenox Hill voted to wear several years ago.


    Quote from CatherineA
    5. What's wrong with white shoes? And why do so many of the "caps are germy" crowd see nothing wrong with wearing filthy sneakers to work? There is no reason why professional white shoes should not be comfortable, and as with the caps, it is not that much trouble to keep them clean. Again, they don't have to be sterile.
    Again agreed. But once white informs went, shoes were next. Some how nurse's regulation does not mix well with scrubs.

    Quote from CatherineA
    6. I wore whites for four years, and honestly never had a problem with them getting stained. What kind of nursing are you doing that you have massive amounts of permanently-staining bodily fluids splashing you every shift? Whenever we had a procedure to do that put us at high risk of being soiled, which wasn't that often, we put a patient gown on over our uniform until we completed it.
    Did you know "Zout" stain remover was originally invented for use by nurses to deal with stains on uniforms?

    Quote from CatherineA
    Despite the insistence of some, this really is not about male dominance. The women's movement unfortunately convinced many women that looking feminine, especially in a traditionally female profession, was an act of gender treason and subservience. That simply is not true; in fact, women usually get treated LESS professionally as they give up professional attire.

    Additionally, a lot of these objections reflect a lack of personal experience with the reality of wearing whites and caps, as well as dressing professionally. We have become a nation of slobs, who justify sloppiness with the excuse that it's too difficult to do any better. It really isn't; it just seems like it to those who didn't grow up that way. If you haven't tried dressing professionally for work you might be pleasantly surprised at how much more professionally you are treated and how much more confidence you will feel if you do.
    You hit the nail on the head about "lack of experience" with caps and to an lesser extent caps, but you are fighting an uphill battle to reverse the trend of scrubs. Ok, you might get nurses back into whites, though probably scrubs and not uniforms, but caps are simply O-W-U-T, out.

    Judging by some of the pictures that pop up during Nurse's Week, most young girls have no idea of how to get a cap on, much less keep it on for an eight to twelve hour shift. The things will be hanging off heads, sliding into bed pans, emesis basins, caught in curtains, jabbing IVs, oh and heaven help nurses on orthopedic floors.

    Finally due to federal labour laws and court decisions a place of business has to pass a very high bar for gender specific uniforms. A hospital cannot have a dress code that requires female nurses to wear dresses and or caps, but not males. They can require all nurses to wear caps, in which case be prepared for one or more "male nurses" to report for duty wearing one, tradition be darned. That goes for dresses (including white pantyhose). Here in NYC there has already been several male students who wanted to wear skirts to school, sued and won.
  2. 1
    Quote from catherinea
    there is an answer to every objection voiced here.

    despite the insistence of some, this really is not about male dominance. the women's movement unfortunately convinced many women that looking feminine, especially in a traditionally female profession, was an act of gender treason and subservience. that simply is not true; in fact, women usually get treated less professionally as they give up professional attire.

    additionally, a lot of these objections reflect a lack of personal experience with the reality of wearing whites and caps, as well as dressing professionally. we have become a nation of slobs, who justify sloppiness with the excuse that it's too difficult to do any better. it really isn't; it just seems like it to those who didn't grow up that way. if you haven't tried dressing professionally for work you might be pleasantly surprised at how much more professionally you are treated and how much more confidence you will feel if you do.
    nope, catherine. your statements don't hold water, imo. wearing a cap isn't feminine - old man bus drivers, police officers, etc wear caps...i don't know why, but they do. if there is no good reason to wear one, why have it? nurses don't need to wear caps as part of 'professional attire' - whether male or female. it simply isn't needed to do the job well, and never was. we have come to recognise this as the profession matures. i'm sure you wouldn't be stopped from wearing one if it added to your sense of self-worth as a nurse, but as for me, i don't need it to do that. maybe you enjoy wearing a hat on sundays? fine, wear hats or caps to your heart's content. just don't try to make me wear one to do my job in nursing or midwifery. it's looks silly, demeaning, and has no function - therefore, not needed for me to do my best. maybe i'd enjoy wearing a cute hat as part of my sunday best, or to a costume ball, but not to work.

    secondly, you make some very pejorative assumptions about 'lack of experience' in wearing whites, and dressing professionally, and talking of nurses looking like slobs. i see you're not in nursing anymore...perhaps that causes you to have some rose-coloured memories? i became a nurse nearly 40 years ago and wore freshly ironed whites, caps, and white hose with clunky white shoes...until i saw the light. i love being comfortable in my uniforms now, and no worries about catching caps on tubings, bending over and revealing something, and having corns and painful feet after 12 hours. new technology takes care of my feet and legs (you probably wouldn't like my work shoes, either!), and though i love my scrubs, i have no objections to white uniforms of my choosing.
    stressednurse70 likes this.


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