Is there power in the color white? - page 8

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   Marie_LPN, RN
    Quote from MichaelLooney
    That's assuming you can afford this thicker, stain-retardent fabrics, aren't busy, and don't work at a place that screams at yoiu about being "unforfessional' if you have even the smalled spot on your clothing.
  2. by   Quilternurse
    It is more of a Professional thing than power to me.
    If I were to return to work in a Hospital or Clinic setting... I would be the one with the White Uniform and Cap on !

    Medically Retired ole Nurse
  3. by   jCLNC
    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.
    Here's the old diploma nurse chiming in to agree. I loved my uniform, complete with hose, shoes and cap as this lady wears. Now the only time it would seem to be appropriate in any cirmcumstance is at Halloween at a dress up party. I loved wearing my cap and the doctors used the different caps and uniforms to know who was the RN (this was at Georgia Baptist School of Nursing in Atlanta).

    I would vote for a return to white. The Director at Grady has done it, (Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, GA) and has received so much positive feedback, both from doctors and others, that she has been invited to institute the change in other hospitals.

    I had an instructor who used to work in New York and always rode the subways. They were dangerous even then. She personally related to me that regularly, when "aggressive" people were discussing who to jump, she would hear them say "Nah, man, she's a nurse. Leave her alone." She believed the white uniform set her apart as someone special. They never touched her, and this was at night.

    Soooo, I vote yes, return to white, even though caps are probably long gone.
  4. by   Jamesdotter
    Quote from Kylee45
    Look like crap in white, but darn it, I wish the caps would come back. I always thought white was a bad color choice, especially with everything that gets spilled. I remember Grandma coming home from work and having to wash her uniforms twice to get out all of the blood and stuff out of her uniforms. How she ever got all of that stuff out is still beyond me.
    Cold water and a little bleach if necessary (that's why they were cotton). I remember my first uniform that was made of a "blend". I bleached it and it turned yellow! I don't remember how I got it white again but I did...
  5. by   kepschafer

    In Australia you would be hard pressed to find any hospital left where nurses where any white, let alone all white. I think that the word 'power' is negative and we should never assume that we have 'power' over our patients. The trend that I see in the forum is related to 'respect or regard' rather than 'power'.

    In Australia our peak nursing body - the Royal College of Nursing, Australia - promotes itself as the 'Ultimate Nursing Professionals'. I disagree with this however. As a student I exchanged to the US and found that US nurses are regarded as true professionals. In the community nurses are respected in the US. In terms of your yearly salary you are remunerated accordingly for the difficult and important role you play in the provision of healthcare. This is not the same in Australia - heck, teachers are paid more than we are as nurses! Nursing in Australia is not seen as an important profession in the community - being a nurse is 'nice' not 'oh wow, a nurse - what an important job you have'. We are para-professionals in Australia - not quite there. Whether that has anything to do with not wearing white uniforms I am not sure. My current uniform is a red shirt and charcoal pants with black shoes - someone in the forum suggested red as a colour of power - I disagree - it doesn't give me any power.

    The thing about uniforms that I don't like in Australia is that often the Patient Care Assistants wear the same or similar uniform as nurses and this causes confusion with the patients as to who the care giver is. I think that a uniform colour is not about power but rather about identification as the Nurse set aside from the other healthcare workers in the hospital. And ultimately a uniform should provide professionalism and respect for the knowledge and skills you have as a RN - not power.


  6. by   casualjim
    Quote from kepschafer

    I think that a uniform colour is not about power but rather about identification as the Nurse set aside from the other healthcare workers in the hospital. And ultimately a uniform should provide professionalism and respect for the knowledge and skills you have as a RN - not power.


    This is fact. I may not be able to speak with authority (yet) to the nursing profession, but in the military and pretty much all other institutions that require a uniform, it's worn for identification. In the military, someone wearing different clothing than you is a potential target. Police and firefighters wear similar clothing so that in the "heat of the moment" they can tell who's who in the zoo without going around reading name tags or asking questions.
    I know that I'm operating without any true experience in the hospital, but it seems to me that introducing yourself every time you see your patient, combined with professionally performing "nursing" tasks will more than serve to identify you as a professional nurse.
    When the moment becomes so heated that there's no time for things like introductions. I'm thinkin that patient is going to be unresponsive with a whole squad of "trained healthcare professionals" taking care of business on their behalf. We can go introduce ourselves later on when they dont have a tube in their throat.
    Just my thoughts.
  7. by   imenid37
    Quote from oldshoes
    About the hats: The really old school hats were actually practical- they covered your hair. Somehow, they were gradually reduced to something merely ornamental. I guess today's equivalent of the old caps would be an OR cap. Or, a bandana, I guess. Or a hair net? Anyway, I wouldn't object to being required to have my hair covered, or pulled securely back. Um, as long as I didn't have to wear a hair net, that is...
    Today, I saw a young LPN student with a thick flowing mane of hair to her mid back. She put Fabio and Dee Snydder to shame. It needed to be pulled back for sure! I think it really was not professional looking because the hair was everywhere. I don't think any cap known to nursing at anytime in history could have contained those locks!
  8. by   GR8LVN
    Maybe the word power, is the wrong word to use. But yes, I feel Nurse's in white do receive more respect than those not in white. This is the traditional color for Nurses and everyone (most) associates these two together. I was told a story, where a Nurse was doing home health visits in the "Getto" and this Nurse wore white. The neighborhood "thugs" were very respectful and always trying to give this Nurse presents, they treated this Nurse with the utmost respect.
  9. by   Quilternurse
    I guess my old fashioned thought behind Nurses wearing a white uniform is more of a respect and professional attitude. I mean... what next... Police and Firemen not wearing uniforms ? Think about it... The White uniform is / was a well earned respectable symbol of a Nurse... much like other professional uniforms. The white uniform had a "healing effect" of its own ... when a patient would see a Nurse in his / her uniform the patient would feel safe and re-assured that he/she was getting professional nursing care. Fact is... Now-a-days the patient really doesn't know who the nurse is unless the patient can see the ID badge.

    So... I am curious... how many nurses in this thread actually wore a white uniform during some part of their nursing career? How many Nurses here graduated and then went to work in a colorful uniform ? Did any new Nurses EVER get to wear a white uniform ?
  10. by   bridge0645
    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 feel like "power" is the right word, but I do feel a "white uniform" is better. I have been a nurse for 15 yrs and white is what I started out with. I feel like as the years went on, so has some of the respect. When the hospital changed to colored scrubs and so forth, you couldn't tell who was who. Then after awhile, the colored scrubs turned into t-shirts with writing on them, and then they became shorter and shorter. The next thing you know, you could see tatoos in places you shouldn't see them and piercings in others. I'm not against these things, but there is a time and place for everything. We are to be professional and at times we have very serious decisions and situations happening. As a patient, would you feel confident that your nurse could make the right decision if she/he was dressed to go party? You would probally think twice and no, you shouldn't judge a book by the cover, but a lot of people do. I'm even amazed at the amount of bad language used on the floors today. You used to be respected if you were a nurse, now you have to earn it and being professional is one way.
  11. by   GR8LVN
    Dearest Quilternurse,

    I couldn't agree with you more. Years ago when I was 18 years old, I was in a severe car accident. Cerebral contusion with short term memory loss and comatose for 7 days. When I was getting well (while is Glendale Memorial Rehab.), I had extreme paranoia and the only thing that conforted me was seeing my Nurse walk in my room. Yes, my Nurse was dressed in white and this is the only way I could distinguish her from other staff. We as Nurses must remember, we are dealing with ill patients and elderly patients and they need to feel safe and secure in their time of need. Not only is the white uniform a tradition, it is a symbol, it is clean and crisp, it is a sign of professionalism. And to answer your second question, yes we wore white while in school. To theory everyday and when clinics started, there too. I am a Licensed Vocational Nurse (3rd Generation).
  12. by   nurse4theplanet
    There is a power in the association of nurses wearing the color white. However, it can illicit a positive or negative response (white coat syndrome, mental ward, etc.). Personally, I would rather move away from the color war and be recognized by my knowledge, care, and more clearly defined duties (i.e., not having "specially trained" UAPs performing nursing duties). And not having housekeeping/dietary wearing scrubs would also help.
  13. by   casualjim
    Here's another thought. Most professions that require a uniform, have more than one of them. When I was in the service, I had a fancy white one, a fancy blue one, one that was sort of "business casual" and battle dress utilities and body armor. I wouldnt wear high collar whites and white shoes to a fire fight, nor would I wear BDU to an awards ceremony.
    It's really sounding , to me anyway, that patients that are a little older, or maybe LTC/SNF residents really do dig the white. Maybe nurses in that line of work might be more inclined to wear it. Different types of work wear for different types of nursing. What do you think?
    Personnaly though,I've got to go with one of the other posters ( I forget who, sorry) when they said that it was the "mandatory" that really bugged him. I've been down that road and I've already told you how I felt about "clothes making the professional."