No, Caps Are Not Totally Gone - page 14

by DoGoodThenGo | 31,672 Views | 176 Comments

Nurse proudly wears the cap that defines her profession If you've visited McKay-Dee Hospital, there's good chance you've seen nurse Linda MacPherson. There are a lot of nurses at the hospital in Ogden, though, so what... Read More


  1. 3
    Quote from astarr33
    I remember the respect those caps and starched whites engendered. I never saw a patient, no matter how out of touch, doped up, or intoxicated, EVER be disrespectful to a nurse in starched whites. I wish the same could be said of nurses clothed in scrubs. When even the dietary and housekeeping staff wear scrubs, it is very difficult for patients and their families to know who to turn to. Our student nursing uniforms are white tops and hunter green pants, and even we get more respect than the nurses in scrubs. It's something about that white!!

    I don't know, maybe it's my age that has me longing for these things, or maybe it is the fact that I see what our profession is becoming. We are a profession, not a "practice", and we should dress as such. Just my .
    Quote from RetRN77
    I don't understand what is with nursing schools these days. They have dumped a good bit of nursing history and distinction by the wayside, and have promoted ridiculous ideas about sanitation, caps being hazards, and caps being a symbol of subordination that make me want to retch. Seriously.
    I agree completely.
    RetRN77, HazelLPN, and NRSKarenRN like this.
  2. 1
    Showing my ignorance of my own profession's roots here, but can anyone tell me more about the significance of the stripes on the caps? From google, I can gather that it had something to do with your degree (RN or PN), and/or number of years experience as a nurse, depending on who you ask. Anyone know more specifics?

    My school did not have caps, and I would like a generic one for Nurse's week. I'm a school nurse, so the infection control thing is not as big an issue as the hospital I think. I'd like to personalize whatever generic one I get and thought knowing the meaning behind the stripes might be a place to start.
    HazelLPN likes this.
  3. 3
    Quote from Purple_Scrubs
    Showing my ignorance of my own profession's roots here, but can anyone tell me more about the significance of the stripes on the caps? From google, I can gather that it had something to do with your degree (RN or PN), and/or number of years experience as a nurse, depending on who you ask. Anyone know more specifics?

    My school did not have caps, and I would like a generic one for Nurse's week. I'm a school nurse, so the infection control thing is not as big an issue as the hospital I think. I'd like to personalize whatever generic one I get and thought knowing the meaning behind the stripes might be a place to start.
    There is no general, universal meaning to the stripes that I've ever heard of -- each school has (had) its own system. At my school (a 3-year, hospital-based diploma school), the freshman students started out with plain caps (no stripe), juniors had a pale blue stripe (the school's official color and our student uniforms were white and that same shade of blue), and seniors had a black stripe. The point was that everyone in the hospital could tell what year you were at a glance, and, because of the nature of a hospital-based diploma school, that meant everyone in the hospital (who worked there, I mean, not the clients, obviously) could tell at a glance what we could be expected to know and what we were allowed to do. Graduates wore a plain cap with no stripe. The stripes were narrow velvet ribbon that you pinned to your cap -- I still have (nearly 30 years later) my little strips of pale blue and black velvet ribbon that were the stripes on my cap for those years of school, and they are treasured possessions, along with my cap(s).

    Other schools had different systems.

    As for the "infection control" question, I've never heard a hospital express concern about that. I've only heard it from nurses who don't want to wear caps. I haven't looked into it myself, but I've read posts by other members here who have stated that there is no literature out there that supports the idea that caps, specifically, are any more of an infection control risk than lots of other things we use in the hospital every day without thinking about it. I did see a study recently (although I now have no idea where) that looked at the issue of wearing a freshly laundered lab coat every day (in the acute care clinical setting) vs. wearing the same coat several days at a time, and, surprisingly (to me, anyway), the study found that a freshly laundered coat picked up so much "stuff" by a surprisingly early point in the day that it basically made no difference at all, from an infection control point of view, whether it had started out clean or dirty. People tend to forget that hospitals are v. "dirty" places by nature, regardless of how hard we try to keep them otherwise (and regardless of how clean they look, which, of course, doesn't mean much in that kind of setting).

    I think we gave up a great deal when we gave up caps and real "whites." (Also when we started going by our first names, but that's another whole discussion ...)
    HazelLPN, RetRN77, and Purple_Scrubs like this.
  4. 2
    Quote from Purple_Scrubs
    Showing my ignorance of my own profession's roots here, but can anyone tell me more about the significance of the stripes on the caps? From google, I can gather that it had something to do with your degree (RN or PN), and/or number of years experience as a nurse, depending on who you ask. Anyone know more specifics?
    As elkpark said, each school had its own system. Ours was no stripe for a freshman, one black side stripe for a junior, and two black side stripes for a senior. Graduate nurses had the same cap, but with a single stripe spanning the center area of the cuff. I always found all the different caps from all the schools fascinating. They were part of the uniqueness and identity of each school.
    HazelLPN and Purple_Scrubs like this.
  5. 3
    One universal truth (well at least far as my research goes) regarding stripes and caps is that the former indicates one is either attending or is a graduate of a RN program. Could be wrong but do not think LVNs/LPNs caps have stripes.

    It is considered *VERY* improper by some for anyone to wear a cap with stripe whilst holding themselves out to be a "nurse". That is you can parade around in one on Holloween or as part of a costume where the intention is clearly for a bit of fun and or entertainmnet, but that is about it.

    Being as this may, some very famous diploma programs never had stripes on their caps, Saint Vincent's schools in NYC for a start.

    As for caps being an "infection" risk. What a load of flannel.

    One of the first things learned in nursing and or Bact/Micro is that surfaces, especially those in hospitals are one of the most contaminated things. Starting with the floor and working upwards and out, which is why one something touches either it is considered "unclean" and certainly not sterile . Same applies to caps.

    Back in the day and for those whom still wear caps, the thing is never set down on desk or table, stuffed into a drawer, shoved into a locker (or underneath), but goes right from their heads into a cap carrier. Depending upon the nurse's fiances and or other concerns worn caps are either sent to the wash or cleaned at home routinely. Considering all the other parts of modern nursing "uniforms", from ratty sweaters and lab coats that are a stranger to soap and water, something sitting on one's head a foot or two above a patient poses little risk of spreading infection.

    Have seen news reports from Asian and South American hospitals where caps for the most part still are standard equipment, and nurses are right there in isolation rooms gowned, gloved, masked and *still* wearing their caps.

    If some of the nurses I worked with in the past and or had as instructors in school were around today to see the goings on, they'd turn in their graves. Nurses with long (and often painted finger nails), nurses wearing rings with huge stones, scrub tops that gap open when one bends over giving the whole world a free show. Scrub bottoms that reveal "plumber's behind" when nurses bend down/over (same effect). Clogs, sandals, "crocs" for footwear, and on and on. On and don't get me started on "male" hospital workers whom cannot find scrub bottoms that do not advertise their "junk".
    HazelLPN, NRSKarenRN, and Purple_Scrubs like this.
  6. 1
    Quote from elkpark
    I agree completely.
    IIRC, the slow march (ok stampede) out of caps and whites began from the top down and with the nursing shortage of the 1980's.

    At the top you began to see more and more DONs, Head Nurses and others in management or supervisory positions not only to cease wearing their caps but started wearing street clothing (with or without a white lab coat).

    During the 1980's to cope with the "nursing shortage" many hospitals revised their standards of practice and or dress codes to not only reflect changes in the profession, but dare one say it; the modern female.

    Besides scrub envy being alive and well, many young women of the time began dressing far more casually than their mothers, and that meant less and less dresses and skirts in favour of pants. Young nurses also saw "uniforms" as something belonging to service workers and the dreaded cap was part and parcel of that image.

    If you watch some of the old hospital based televison dramas or soap operas from the late 1970's though the 1980's you see the subtle shift going on. Older nurses on the floors tended to wear whites with caps, but many of the younger girls (when given the choice) ditched the cap at least. Head Nurse Jesse on "General Hospital" seemed to do everything but sleep in her whites, cap and that sweater right up until her character left the show. Bobbie Jo Spencer wore her cap as a student, but IIRC got shot of it afterwards.
    lindarn likes this.
  7. 1
    Two of our house supervisors still wear their caps. One of them is also named Linda. LOL
    HazelLPN likes this.
  8. 2
    Wow! Memories!! I graduated Caledonian prior to enrolling in Pace RN program. Thanks for the wonderful and old memories!
    nursel56 and lindarn like this.
  9. 1
    at the facility where i presently work, there are 2 nurses that still wear their nursing caps, and they own a sterilizer cap once their shift is over they sterilize them. below you'll see the 2 nursing caps which i'm referring to i'm quite sure some of you can relate to them.













    HazelLPN likes this.
  10. 2
    It is so nice to see that there are still many nurses out there who remember how special caps were and challenge some of the silly negative ideas about how caps carry "germs" or equate nurses with servants.

    Back in the 1980s the caps went out of fashion very quickly and I decided I would wear scrubs. That lasted a few months because I never felt right when I wore them. I still have the old scrubs that I wear as pajamas or to garden in, but when I work, I wear my uniform, pin and cap with the same pride as the day I earned it.

    Mrs H.
    nursel56 and RetRN77 like this.


Nursing Jobs in every specialty and state. Visit today and Create Job Alerts, Manage Your Resume, and Apply for Jobs.

A Big Thank You To Our Sponsors
Top