Why white shoes?


I have seen a lot of posts where schools are requiring nursing students to wear white shoes for clinical. I wanted to know why nursing school have that requirement. It would seem that running shoes that usually don't come in white or crocs would be much better for the long standing. Also, I would think you could get both (white and non-white) shoes to be just as sterile. I know that many other health professions do not require the white shoes for their students. What gives?

TiffyRN, BSN, PhD

2,313 Posts

Specializes in Nurse Scientist-Research. Has 30 years experience.

Uniformity. Tradition. Because they can.

Specializes in NICU. Has 14 years experience.

I think traditionally the white shoes, as well as the white uniform, was used as a yardstick to measure a nurse's cleanliness. Obviously white hides nothing in terms of spills and stains, so it was a quick way to judge how hygienic a nurse was.

ETA: As to why it's still a requirement these days, I refer to TiffyRN's answer.


1,753 Posts

Specializes in Surgical, quality,management. Has 12 years experience.

The shoes are not sterile.

The white shoe thing is an American tradition. UK & Ireland it's black proper shoes no runners allowed.

springchick1, ADN, RN

1 Article; 1,769 Posts

Also, I would think you could get both (white and non-white) shoes to be just as sterile. I know that many other health professions do not require the white shoes for their students. What gives?

Shoes aren't sterile, no matter what color they are. It probably has to do with the fact that nursing uniforms used to be white and white is a nice, clean color.

roser13, ASN, RN

6,504 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg, Ortho, ASC. Has 17 years experience.

Crocs are banned from some facilities. Apparently they can generate static electricity that may interfere with equipment.

Specializes in Geriatrics, Home Health. Has 10 years experience.

Some Crocs are available in white. I've heard of facilities banning Crocs with holes, but not the static electricity thing.

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Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

6 Articles; 11,344 Posts

Specializes in OR, Nursing Professional Development. Has 18 years experience.

Because the school can set the rules as they choose. I had to be in white from head to toe.

A note on Crocs: some schools/facilities ban shoes without backs. My facility requires shoes that either have a back or a strap that goes around the heel/ankle. How well that's enforced, though...

I will say that running to a code is difficult in backless shoes. Hence why I refuse to wear them.

Ruby Vee, BSN

67 Articles; 14,022 Posts

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

White is traditional in the US.

Running shoes are great for running, but you don't actually do much running at work. They aren't so great for standing and pivoting or sidestepping. Cross trainers are actually best for the motions we nurses do the most. And Danskos are great for standing -- loved by chefs and nurses alike. Crocs don't actually have much support. That may not bother you when you're young, but down the road can cause problems. There's also evidence that they emit some sort of dangerous chemical -- I won't pretend to know much about that, but my DH just read that this morning.

Wear the white shoes -- they are probably supportive. Once you're through school and on your own, you can wear whatever your employer's dress code allows you to wear.

Altra, BSN, RN

6,255 Posts

Specializes in Emergency & Trauma/Adult ICU.

Ruby Vee makes an important point above - the standing for long periods of time is what will dictate your shoe choice in the long run. The floors of hospitals and other care facilities are typically some kind of tile over a concrete subfloor - it's just the way large buildings are constructed, and it can be very hard on the body over time.

White is simply traditional in the US. Some schools require it, some do not. I would bet money that whatever shoes you wear while in nursing school are unlikely to be worn for more than a few months into your nursing career anyway.

Wrench Party

823 Posts

Specializes in Cardiology, Cardiothoracic Surgical. Has 3 years experience.

They can. Get some white leather shoes and some white shoe polish. Still have my white Danskos from nursing school- they refuse to die.

MunoRN, RN

8,058 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 10 years experience.

Unlike women's shoes, there aren't many mens shoes that come in all-white, so for nursing schools I got the shoes I need for my back in mostly white, and a can of white spray paint that works on leather and plastic.