What to wear on a unit where nurses wear street clothes and not scrubs?

  1. Hi all,

    I have just been hired for my first job (yay!) I will be working in a psychiatric inpatient unit. The nurses on the unit where street clothes instead of scrubs. This seems to be common for psych units in my area, as I think it's supposed to make the unit feel less institutional and therefore less intimidating for the patients, most of whom are there involuntarily.

    Does anyone here work on a unit where scrubs are not worn? If so, any wardrobe advice for a new grad?
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    About tareija

    Joined: Apr '09; Posts: 71; Likes: 38
    from CA


  3. by   AngelicDarkness
    Usually the common dress code on psych is a cross between formal and casual. What I like to wear includes: skirts knee length, dress tops (not revealing), dress pants, boots (decent wedge that you can walk in, run if necessary), knee length dresses. Have fun with it

    Your dress code can brighten their day! I met a few nurses who didn't use the dress code to the potential, and wore the same old dress pants and t-shirt. I found patients took longer to approach them, or to open up.

    Congrats on your position OP!
  4. by   merlee
    I have done home health in the past and at least two agencies encouraged street clothes. It is easier if you develop a style or system for yourself. I would suggest dark slacks or long skirts with some pretty tops. Makes it easier for you to 'grab and go' in the morning. I usually wore black slacks, and had a variety of bright inexpensive blouses. I never had any negative feedback from anyone.

    Some stores have inexpensive tops - like Target or Wal-Mart - that are colorful and may have some embellishment and are easy to launder. Even though they are psych patients they may still have some illnesses at times, and you may want to be able to toss your clothes into the washer ASAP.

    No reason to look less than your best, but this isn't investment banking, it is still nursing!

    Best wishes in your new job!
  5. by   IdrilRN
    I wear boring jeans and boring t shirts or shirt, and sneakers. But then again thats my "style" or lack of style, anyway I work on a forensics unit and as a nurse I would never wear a dress or a skirt. I get down and dirty (no pun intended) with these peeps sometimes and a skirt not appropriate. I would not wear any thing I really cares about. Why just today, my charge and I wore a patients cup of coffee. She ruined her expensive new blouse, me... Inexpensive Walmart shirt. The children's unit wear long sleeve shirts, the adolescent unit can wear shorts.
    I don't wear a button up shirt unless I have a tank top underneath.
    The dress code for your hospital can guide you a bit more. I know some of my coworkers would love to wear their sweatpants but that is just not allowed. Mostly we wear jeans or regular pants. But that's our hospital.
    Gratz and best of luck!!! Psych nursing is very rewarding.
  6. by   ToughingItOut
    Congratulations! I also just recently started a new job with a similar dress code. I would suggest buying slacks in multiple, nuetral colors such as black, khaki, brown, and gray. I bought several button-down blouses. However, I found some excellent stretchy, lycra-ish tee-shirt tops at JC Penny that were only about $12 each (an everyday price) that I bought in several colors and patterns. I like them because they are cheap, comfortable, look professional and do not wrinkle. I also suggest the Jones of New York professional teeshirts (made from thick cotton). I bought them on sale at Dillard's (they are trying to get rid of their Summer inventory). In addition, I suggest investing in some comfortable, yet professional shoes such as Dansko, Alegria, etc. as well as some cardigans or sweaters for when you get cold. I know that it is hard to spend money on a new wardrobe when you're just starting out, but I would suggest investing in a few key pieces if you are able to afford it. Good luck!
  7. by   tareija
    Thanks for all the advice everyone! I have some ideas to go shopping with now. I guess one other challenge I've had is finding clothes that look reasonably professional but aren't too warm. I get overheated extremely easily, and especially with nursing where I am on my feet and moving around a lot. Hopefully I'll be able to find some decent tops made from cotton or something breathable. Wish me luck! I am really excited to be starting work soon. :spin:
  8. by   Whispera
    Buy clothes that are washable, because you might get who-knows-what on them. Easy care clothes are where it's at for psych. One place I worked expected khakis or black slacks and provided polo shirts.
  9. by   sharpeimom
    My employer also required tan or navy docker-style slacks and they provided tan and navy polo shirts with their name embroidered on. We wore dark tops with tan pants and vice versa.

    I wore loud socks and a good supportive walking shoe.
  10. by   resilientnurse
    I recently interviewed for a psych in-patient job and was very surprised to learn that the staff nurses wore street clothes. The RN showing me around said that you can wear either scrubs or street clothes; it's left up to the employee's discretion. I can totally see the logic in making the environment seem less institutionalized that way. It makes perfect sense to me. The only issue might be the dynamic between the gowned psych patient and street-clothed RN.
  11. by   amoLucia
    Don't know if this will influence you or not - but uniforms are tax-deductible. So if you keep you work wardrobe simple & lowkey and you basically keep it designated for work, you can declare it. Wear different sweaters to dress up your outfits, but again, remember, make it washable.
  12. by   Hallows_Eve
    Our facility just ended years of wearing street clothes and started requiring scrubs again, they almost made them uniform, but couldn't come up with a justification for the stipend they would have to pay. So its our own scrubs.

    I was already wearing either scrub pants (cargos) with a casual top, or a scrub top with yoga pants. I needed the pockets generally, and to be able to move. I pretty much would wear the same things when not at work, most of my scrub tops could be casual tops.

    Now that we are all scrubs, its been fun scouring ebay and the like for funky patterns. Many are one of a kind, others are $5 or less, lots of room to play into your style.
  13. by   algebra_demystified
    Scrubs. I don't wear street clothes to work. In the psych setting, I play a part. Scrubs are part of my costume. Other people have a different opinion and that's fine with me, but I feel it's important to differentiate myself from the patients by a clearly visible cue.

    That's not to say I only wear one style of scrubs. Right now I have a set of seashore themed cotton/silk scrubs being custom made by a local seamstress. I have another style in mind that's made of Pendleton wool for the winter season, and another set that's made of Italian suit material in a double-breasted style, but which will remain umistakably scrubs.

    If I could find some cotton/poly Backyardigans scrubs I would rock those up and down the halls.
  14. by   KaeliF
    All I can say is that if you are on a psych unit be sure to dress VERY conservatively! A lot of the people on your unit will be middle aged men with very poor impulse control, so you are definitely not dressing to impress here. Also, when I did my psych rotation our instructor told us to be sure to avoid wearing scarves or anything else that could be used to choke you. I know it sounds outlandish but better safe than sorry.