Wearing a Nursing Cap - Not These Days

Gone are the days when the nursing cap topped the white starched nursing uniform. It is a very rare sight to see today. Read about one old-school nurse who clung on to that tradition from days gone by.......until the cap had an unfortunate accident involving a bedpan. Nurses Announcements Archive Article

Wearing a Nursing Cap - Not These Days

I worked with a doctor who was very proper. He was friendly and not stiff or unapproachable. He just had his own ideas of right and wrong. One day he asked me why I did not wear my cap. I went through the usual answers...

It pulls my hair, it is hot, it gets dirty, it gets caught in the curtains around the beds.

He still was not convinced that it was right that I did not wear a cap in critical care. I told him that my actions would let people know that I was a nurse.

Not convinced yet.

I even told him about the rule in the VA, where I had worked previously, that if you wore pants, no cap was required. A shake of the head was given. I finally told him that when he wore a cap that said where he graduated from, I would. He smiled, turned, wrote orders and left.

Soon after this exchange, I assisted another nurse with an admission. This was an older nurse, a graduate of one of New York City's best hospital programs. She wore her gray hair in a bun with her cap on the top of her head. She was always immaculate. Her posture was perfect.

The admission was a direct admission of a man in CHF and who had anasarca. He was a large man in acute distress and needed an IV and a foley stat. The other nurse offered me a choice of which procedure to do.

If there was a vein that could be tapped into, I could get an IV started. This left the foley to be inserted by the other nurse. As I hated inserting catheters, I felt I had a better job. Perhaps I chose the wrong job, from her point of view, at least.

I was busy finding a vein, prepping, and starting the IV when I happened to look over at her. This was a difficult foley insertion and she was just completing getting the catheter into the bladder.

Suddenly her cap fell off. It was a round fluffy, frilly cap that always reminded me of a maid's cap from the beginning of the twentieth century. To me, it did not look like a nurse's cap. It fell into the sterile field. It dropped into the urine collection pan, followed by a gush of urine streaming out of this man's distended bladder.

Urine in a pan, urine in a cap, gloved hands too busy to grab the cap before it hit the pan and the urine with a plop. I had my hands full. I was hooking up the IV and securing it. I could not grab it before the moment of doom. The cap was swimming in the urine.

This nurse completed the procedure of the foley insertion and hooked it up to the drainage system. Without a word she smiled, picked up the cap in one hand, the urine pan in the other and walked briskly away from the bed. She placed the cap in the nearest sink, took care of the urine, and returned to the bedside. By now her starched look was gone. In its place was a smile that turned into a laugh. We could not stop laughing as we continued to care for this man. Our smiles lightened this man's fear, at least. He could readily see what happened and laughed with us.

By the next day, the word was out in the hospital about the plopping cap. She and I had shared it with some of the staff as we prepared to leave our shift. The patient told the story. Even the doctor had heard of it. As he entered the unit, I could not resist; I had to say it. "Now you understand why I don't wear a cap."

TopazLover is a retired nurse who now has a second career as an office manager. Her background as a nurse helps daily dealing with a criminal defense lawyer's office. As a widow she has led many grief groups and provides support for those in turmoil.

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Specializes in ortho, hospice volunteer, psych,.

I had a very similar experience when I was a brand new nurse and we HAD to wear caps on the ortho floor I'd been assigned to. My poor cap landed in a bedpan, the hopper and was knocked off by an irate small patient. Quite an intro into nursing...:lol2:

Specializes in Nursing, Midwifery, Public Health.

I hate wearing cap. Tell me, does that make us less of a nurse???? Our action/skills tells it all don't u think?

Believe it or not, I actually enjoyed wearing my cap. I was a unit secretary, a telemetry clerk, and a CNA II at the hospital I worked at before I graduated from nursing school. My cap was worn with pride and told the story of my accomplishment without saying a word. The older patients I served liked the cap as well. Many commented that it made them feel more secure when they saw it. Every department now wears scrubs. The cap let them know as soon as I entered that I was their nurse, as opposed to the CNA's, housekeeping, dietary, lab, administration, etc. Yes, they would figure it out sooner or later, but to an elderly patient with a chronic illness, it was a comfort to not expend that effort.:loveya:

I loved my cap. I just did not like wearing it. By the time I was working there I found it to be a nuisance. it was always getting in the curtains. At that time many of the ancillary positions did not exist. There were few non nurses near the critical care areas.

Now I really miss my cap. There are so many people offering services to patients that they have little idea of who is a real nurse.

Times change...

Specializes in critical care, ER,ICU, CVSURG, CCU.

I work in LTC now, and a lot of the older patient's enjoy when I wear it..... I may wear white once or twice a week, and when I do, don my cap........

Specializes in MedSurg.

Um, excuse my ignorance, but who wears a cap these days?

Specializes in pedi, pedi psych,dd, school ,home health.

my cap landed in a sterile field while the surgeon changed the original dressing of a large abdominal incision * in the days of surgeons doing dressings and all nurses wearing caps!* needless to say he wasnt very happy with me !