Is there power in the color white?

  1. 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.
  2. Visit bbfw2 profile page

    About bbfw2

    Joined: Jan '05; Posts: 12; Likes: 2
    Freelance writer; from CA
    Specialty: 24 year(s) of experience

    219 Comments

  3. by   PANurseRN1
    My bluntly honest response? There have been about 50,000 million threads about this, and you can probably find an answer to this question doing a "search." In fact, there's a current thread in this forum that addresses this topic.

    https://allnurses.com/forums/f8/unif...-us-32988.html
    Last edit by PANurseRN1 on Oct 7, '06
  4. by   GingerSue
    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.
    my own experience has been that my supervisors were respectful toward me

    wearing all white uniforms might contribute to a sense of power, along with high standards re: care, although I think that other coloured uniforms are fine (I am thinking of how a person is perceived)
    as I think of some of the items that I see for purchase in the uniform section, I dread what I might be expected to wear (I see things that look like pyjamas, tops that don't fit and look ridiculous - but they are my size, and some of the functional clothing that I will be ashamed to wear - no wonder people don't experience respect when they see someone approaching them who comes dressed like that). When I wore my white uniforms that fit, I felt quite fine. (I also had yellow, blue, or pink uniforms that fit and looked professional).
    that's my two cents
  5. by   Ruby Vee
    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.
    [font="comic sans ms"]you know being bluntly honest is against the tos! :wink2:

    i doubt that the decreasing respect for nurses has anything to do with the movement away from white uniforms. i think it has more to do with society as a whole. everywhere you look you see increasing rudenss and decreasing concern for others. the clerk in a store who can't be bothered to end her personal cell phone call to help you find the item you need, the wait person who slams your plate down in front of you and gallops off, the family member who demands instead of asking -- all symptoms of our increasing population density.

    personally, i found white had more to do with keeping us in a handmaiden role than increasing our respect. (and besides, i look ghastly in white and it's impossible to keep pristine!)
  6. by   Katherine RN
    I work with a heavy geriatric population and they do verbalize a preferance for the traditional white uniforms. Personally I think as long as nurses maintain a clean professional appearance with "natual looking make up and hair color" the same professionalism comes across. I would like to see less characters on scrubs unless of course the nurse is working on a ped floor.
  7. by   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.
  8. by   Pompom
    NO, the color white makes us look like students and or ice cream vendors. If you want respect, present yourself as knowledgable, compassionate, experienced, confident, capable.
  9. by   heartbeat2
    The main reason that WHITE isn't in....the people wearing it didn't like it.

    NOW...the POWER....it is in the WHITE = NURSE.

    In the hospital...you don't see the "ice cream man". Patients can SEE the white long before they experience the what the nurse offers.

    The reason for getting away from the nursing caps, with all the advances the caps became a hindrance.

    I don't look good in white, but I do know that patients, families, even hospital personnel responded to me differently all for the better.

    It just looks more professional and CLEAN...as long as it is cleaned!

    Just as a judge wears a black robe, you KNOW who he is when he enters the courtroom. You KNOW who the nurse is when she entered in her white uniform.

    We have taken this away from ourselves.
  10. by   RebeccaJeanRN
    I posted in here once before in agreement to white again, as singularly reserved for nurses, but of course not old fashioned starched dresses, hose & caps...and there was an avalanche of disagreement in reply. The problem that I see with other colors reserved strictly for nurses is keeping the color coding for scrubs (which EVERYONE wears) straight in any given hospital. But if you can consider this website as a microcosm of general opinion, the overwhelming majority of nurses would never go for it. So we are stuck with being mistaken as just anybody else in the hospital, forevermore. And don't tell me that one's professionalism will set you aside. That may be true after someone witnesses a professional exchange, but before that happens, your typical hospitalized grandma will still think housekeeping is their nurse, and even new residents won't know if an RN is a CNA or a LVN or Resp Therapry, etc...
  11. by   Miss Chybil RN
    Hmmm... I always thought red was the power color.
  12. by   TazziRN
    And with wearing white came the expected deference to doctors and the expected "Yes sir" attitude. I'll stick with my scrubs, thanks. I like giving people something to look at to distract them a little from the hole I'm about to poke in them.
  13. by   zenman
    I'm sticking with my shorts, shirt and sandals...and they are not white!
  14. by   StNeotser
    No, I think the disrespect has to do with management inviting patients and family members to treat us this way.

    Any time there is an incident or a complaint, the form we have to fill out says "What nursing action could have prevented this?" Some patients and family members are going to be angry no matter what you do and there is no nursing action that can prevent a complaint. For example, they do not wish to wait for a lab to come back or for the doctor to get back to them despite your best efforts. Nobody in management will ever stand behind a nurse. They just invite more aggressive and nasty behaviour.

close