Thursday, April 7, 2011

Workplace Dress Codes

The dress code where I work has always been a bit...ambiguous.  I work in a hospital that's part of a pretty major health system.  Even though it's part of the big health system, it feels like a small community hospital.  It serves mainly a population that comes from the geographical area immediately surrounding the hospital.  Because of this small, community feel, the staff are generally pretty nice, happy, and good at their jobs.  And also because of this commnity feel, the dress code has not been too "stuffy."  The only people who can be seen wearing suits on a daily basis are the people at the very top of administration - the CEO, CFO, CNO, etc.  Everyone else dresses pretty business casual, and some on the more casual end of that (guilty!).  All along, we've been told no sneakers, no capris, no tank tops.  But that's been the extent of our no-nos; otherwise, pretty much anything goes.  We've even been allowed to wear open-toe shoes.  It's always surprised me, but I went with it.  During the summer, I can be seen in strappy sandals most of the week.  Love. It.

But a new administration is in place and they are shaking things up.  Soon, we will no longer be allowed to wear open-toe shoes.  Even peep-toes will be outlawed.  We will not be allowed to wear khakis.  A couple of years ago, we were given the option to purchase fleeces with the hospital logo and our department/title on them - we'll no longer be allowed to wear those, either.  If I get cold, I can put on a white sweater.  Those are not absolutely terrible changes.  I'll miss my peep-toes, but I'll live.  I'm a little annoyed that just a year ago I spent $35 on a fleece that I can't wear anymore, but I'll get over it.

But it's not just the professional staff who are getting changes.  The nurses are being handed a pretty shitty deal:
This is actually titled "Old Fashioned Nurse"
All white scrubs.  Yup, nurses, who have to deal with body fluids and puke and blood and whatever else.  They have to wear white scrubs and white sneakers.  Plain white with nothing on them.  What a pain in the butt.  Not only do they have to buy all new scrubs, but they will have to buy all new underwear - there's only certain things you can wear under white scrubs that won't scream "I'm wearing panties!" 

The new CNO based this decision on a survey done in 2006 that found that people feel that they got better, more professional care from nurses in all-white uniforms.  What she failed to mention is that the survey results were actually that 55% of men over the age of 70 reported that; other age groups reported no difference in care.  And another study, done in January 2011, found that across all age groups, people responded that nurses in colorful scrubs with small print/pattern delivered the best care and were the most empathetic.  But the CNO chose not to use that study, and instead used the 5-year-old study based on a survey of 800 patients from one hospital.  Hmmm...

Anyway, needless to say, the nurses here are not happy.  Many are starting to band together and come up with ways to fight this.  Several have written letters.  I can't really say I blame them.  While I do love my white pants in the summertime, I would not want to wear them day in and day out, on days when I have my period (flashback to middle school period checks!)....and certainly not if I were spending my day cleaning up people's piss and shit.  I intend to fully support the nurses, however I can. 

What do you think?  Nurses in white: a throwback to the 40s, a dirty male fantasy, or actual better care?


  1. Oh my god, those uniforms are dreadful. I have a background in patient safety and hygiene, so I do kind of agree with the sandals/peeptoe thing (we outlawed crocs too), but most of these other changes are ridiculous. All white uniforms? Yeah, I'm sure I want a nurse that has noticeable blood splatters on her uniform (that white won't hide anything!). It's a total dirty old man fantasy and I feel sorry for those nurses.

    As someone who gets cold CONSTANTLY, I'd be pissed if I couldn't wear whatever I wanted to stay warm.

  2. Oh wow, that's crazy! I couldn't imagine having to wear white all the time - I'm a total mess, that would not work for me! Those poor nurses, I hope they're able to talk to managment and get something worked out.

  3. I thought most nurses wore just scrubs? All white?! CRAZYNESS.