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  #1  
Old 07-12-2008, 10:03 AM
scrambledeggs scrambledeggs is offline
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When/Why did nurses stop wearing white uniforms?

Back in the "cukoo's nest" days, the nurses wore that now stripper-costume-associated-with white uniform, a fairly snug fitting dress.

Now nurses seem to be a bit plumper and wear loose 'flower pattern' medical fabric shirts.

When did this change happen -- and why?
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  #2  
Old 07-12-2008, 10:41 AM
picunurse picunurse is offline
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It didn't change all at once. It happened over a decade or two.

Nurses' body styles haven't changed. The
Quote:
stripper-costume-associated-with white uniform
has always been a sexual caricature.

White uniforms just aren't practical. We work in a messy environment. We get dirty. Medications can stain, blood gets spilled, body fluids get splashed. We do our best to not let such things happen, but they do.
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  #3  
Old 07-12-2008, 10:57 AM
Lynn Bodoni Lynn Bodoni is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by picunurse
It didn't change all at once. It happened over a decade or two.

Nurses' body styles haven't changed. The has always been a sexual caricature.

White uniforms just aren't practical. We work in a messy environment. We get dirty. Medications can stain, blood gets spilled, body fluids get splashed. We do our best to not let such things happen, but they do.
I think that studies have shown (but of course I don't have a cite for this) that wearing the newer style prints is more relaxing to the patients. I know that I'd rather stare at a mildly interesting print when someone's drawing blood, for instance. And of course it's easier to care for the printed and colored uniforms, as picunurse said.

The new styles are less fitted, so they're easier to move in, and don't have to be tailored so dramatically.

My current (male) doctor wears polo shirts and slacks, and I find this to be less intimidating than more formal wear.
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  #4  
Old 07-12-2008, 01:58 PM
picunurse picunurse is offline
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Just an added note, when first became a nurse, we were required to wear, not just white, but white dresses.
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  #5  
Old 07-12-2008, 04:10 PM
papergirl papergirl is offline
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I have to wear surgical scrubs when I work at the hospital. Nice and comfy, and it's hard to be intimidated so much by the higher-ups when they're wearing the same wrinkly, baggy, hospital-name emblazoned outfit that I am.
In other parts of the hospital, I'll sometimes see a (rare) nurse dressed in standard old-timey whites. First time I saw one, it was Halloween, so perhaps I can be forgiven for initally thinking that she was just dressed up for the holiday. (And she was, I shit you not, wearing her hair in pigtails.) But no--I saw her after that, and she apparently just likes the uniform.
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  #6  
Old 07-12-2008, 04:24 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by picunurse
Just an added note, when first became a nurse, we were required to wear, not just white, but white dresses.
I've seen a nurse sitting on top of a patient giving chest compressions or something while the patient was on a gurney being pushed down the hall at top speed. In scrubs at least nobody sees your underwear!
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  #7  
Old 07-12-2008, 07:56 PM
picunurse picunurse is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zsofia
I've seen a nurse sitting on top of a patient giving chest compressions or something while the patient was on a gurney being pushed down the hall at top speed. In scrubs at least nobody sees your underwear!
Amen!
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  #8  
Old 07-12-2008, 08:30 PM
GuanoLad GuanoLad is online now
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My parents worked in various hospitals all their lives, so I saw this progression slowly over time. Kind of a shame, really, because I like the old timey white uniforms, I think they can be very attractive. And not in a sexual way, either

Though that has its place too. Unfortunately the stripper-type of uniform is usually stylised to the point of absurdity, and doesn't look very attractive to me at all. Japanese porn seems to get it right, but nobody else.
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  #9  
Old 07-12-2008, 10:21 PM
Booker57 Booker57 is offline
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As a hi-jack "When did wearing the Nursing school cap end"?
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  #10  
Old 07-12-2008, 10:24 PM
kunilou kunilou is offline
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When both my mother and I were working in healthcare in 1970, EVERY nurse wore white, except for the operating room staff. Pantsuits had just begun to be accepted, but most of the older nurses stuck with their dresses. Less than five years later, pantsuits were the rule rather than the exception.

That was also about the time I saw nurses move to scrubs instead of whites. It wasn't just nurses, either. Both female and male aides also had uniforms. By the early 1980s they had all been almost completely replaced by scrubs.
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  #11  
Old 07-12-2008, 10:43 PM
Koxinga Koxinga is offline
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What did male nurses wear back then?

And nowadays is there any issue with patients not being able to distinguish among different types of hospital staff? Some time after my daughter was born, in the hospital, I turned to (someone I thought was) an orderly to ask where I might find a nurse--turned out the guy *was* the nurse. D'oh!

Last edited by Koxinga; 07-12-2008 at 10:43 PM..
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  #12  
Old 07-12-2008, 10:52 PM
Mr. Moto Mr. Moto is offline
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My grandmother was a nurse. I find it difficult to find the white uniforms sexy, but they were cool in their way.

Grandma retired before wearing scrubs all the time became the norm, but she was a labor-and-delivery nurse, so I gather that she wore them quite a bit anyway, just because of the workload.
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  #13  
Old 07-12-2008, 11:26 PM
freckafree freckafree is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Booker57
As a hi-jack "When did wearing the Nursing school cap end"?
I came in to ask that very same hijack question. It must have been on NPR that I heard a woman talking about folding and pinning and starching a square of linen or cotton into a nurse's cap. I knew they were unique to the school/hospital, but I assumed a nurse's cap was like any other uniform piece. You went to the uniform shop and bought one. Fought my ignorance, that story did.
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  #14  
Old 07-12-2008, 11:30 PM
Hazle Weatherfield Hazle Weatherfield is offline
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Really? I'm going to be the first person to give the "plumper nurses" thing a WTF? Or is this type of pronouncement just a given in this guy's posts?
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  #15  
Old 07-12-2008, 11:34 PM
susan susan is offline
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Since he thinks all fat babes dress the same, and doesn't like their choice, I'd go for "just a given."
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  #16  
Old 07-13-2008, 12:32 AM
Eggerhaus Eggerhaus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Koxinga
What did male nurses wear back then?
Back in the mid-to-late 70s, when I was in nursing school, we guys had to wear white zip-front polyester tops, white belt, white pants, white socks and white shoes. Christ, I hated that outfit. I was living alone at the time and hated ironing...so I'd put the uniform between my mattress and box spring to "iron" it while I slept.

My ex would starch her nursing cap (the thing unfolded for cleaning) and slap it on the side of the 'fridge until it dried.

Slight hijack, I'm surprised I didn't get kicked out of nursing school...we did a few weeks on a urology floor during a med-surg rotation and one of my instructors read me the riot act because I'd answer the phone, "Urology...can you hold?"
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  #17  
Old 07-13-2008, 12:45 AM
JayRx1981 JayRx1981 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eggerhaus
Slight hijack, I'm surprised I didn't get kicked out of nursing school...we did a few weeks on a urology floor during a med-surg rotation and one of my instructors read me the riot act because I'd answer the phone, "Urology...can you hold?"
Thank you for that. I needed a great laugh and that was hilarious.
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  #18  
Old 07-13-2008, 12:49 AM
Pork Rind Pork Rind is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn Bodoni
My current (male) doctor wears polo shirts and slacks, and I find this to be less intimidating than more formal wear.
Formal wear?!
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  #19  
Old 07-13-2008, 10:58 AM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Koxinga
What did male nurses wear back then?

And nowadays is there any issue with patients not being able to distinguish among different types of hospital staff? Some time after my daughter was born, in the hospital, I turned to (someone I thought was) an orderly to ask where I might find a nurse--turned out the guy *was* the nurse. D'oh!
Not quite the same thing, but there was a bit of furor among the staff kind of recently when one of our downtown hospitals stopped letting nurses wear Spongebob or whatever scrubs they liked and started requiring they wear scrubs color coded by job - medical, surgical, pediatric, whatever. (Which is the way they wear them on Scrubs, sort of.) The complaints were because of expense (they'd spent a lot of money on Spongebob scrubs and it's not like you can wear them out on the town) and suppression of individuality and whatnot, but as far as I know they went through with it.
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  #20  
Old 07-13-2008, 11:27 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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All of the nurses in one of the medical units where I work have decided to adopt unofficial uniforms. They all agree on what common outfits they will wear from day to day. I noticed the first time I saw all of them wearing Spongebob scrubs.
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  #21  
Old 07-13-2008, 12:20 PM
Quartz Quartz is offline
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Umm... isn't the visiblity of the dirt an advantage to white over-uniforms? If you can see the dirt, you know you're less safe to treat patients, so go change.
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  #22  
Old 07-13-2008, 01:06 PM
Hazle Weatherfield Hazle Weatherfield is offline
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I always thought that blue and green scrubs were preferable because blood didn't look so "bloody" when compared with how it looked on a white uniform. Not sure where I got that info, but it makes sense.
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  #23  
Old 07-13-2008, 01:11 PM
picunurse picunurse is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quartz
Umm... isn't the visiblity of the dirt an advantage to white over-uniforms? If you can see the dirt, you know you're less safe to treat patients, so go change.
No, because if our clothing becomes contaminated we change. It's better to be able to change into relatively inexpensive scrubs rather than more pricey harder to maintain whites.

The dirt problem is more about stains that accumulate on whites.

This brings up another reason scrubs are perferable. Most white uniforms are polyester or nylon. They are hot, stain easily and turn gray after several launderings. They can't be washed in hot water either. The occasional cotton white uniform I found had to be ironed and looked awful after a couple hours.
Scrubs can be washed in hot water and bleach, even those that aren't 100% cotton.
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  #24  
Old 07-13-2008, 05:30 PM
rocking chair rocking chair is offline
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nurse friends have told me the one and only time they wear whites and hats are at graduation.
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  #25  
Old 07-13-2008, 06:35 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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It was reccommended here by somebody (forget who) that a great graduation gift for a nurse is a nice portrait photograph taken in her whites, since she'll never wear them again. I've been saving that idea up for a rainy day.
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  #26  
Old 07-13-2008, 07:34 PM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Booker57
As a hi-jack "When did wearing the Nursing school cap end"?
When we married in '83, Deb still had her nursing cap and when it was lost or damaged in a move in '86 she went to great pains to replace it. When it was again lost or damaged in the 90s and I offered to get her a replacement, she said to not bother.

OTOH, I can only recall her actually wearing it to work on a few occasions in '84. (She moved out of hospital work into home health care in '84 and wore the cap without a uniform a few times, then dropped that practice as well.)

I suspect that the transition occurred in different years in different facilities and parts of ther country.
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  #27  
Old 07-13-2008, 08:37 PM
GythaOgg GythaOgg is offline
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I was a bit of a holdout on the white uniform front; I wore them as long as I could still buy ones that were reasonably comfortable and practical. I found that as a psychological tool with confused older patients (I was working in a combined SNF/nursing home at the time) it couldn't be beat. I was recognized as a 'nurse' by the demented when my coworkers wearing colorful scrubs weren't. I was picky on them; they had to be fairly loose, they had to be on the longish (at the knee or a bit longer) side, they had to have BIG pockets, and they had to have a zip front, not buttons. And I wore a huge scrub jacket over them to provide more pocket space and warmth. Hospitals are COLD!

I stopped wearing white uniforms and switched to scrubs right around 1998-1999 or so.

Right now I'm working in a casual business office environment and I get to wear blue jeans!

I graduated in 1985 and my cap was never worn after that. IIRC, around that time there were some studies that came out that focused on caps as not being sanitary and there were actually hospitals in my area that banned them completely.
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  #28  
Old 07-13-2008, 09:39 PM
phouka phouka is offline
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My mom's an RN, and I asked her about when caps stopped being worn at work.

As she remembers it, is was when the hospitals started putting together neonatal ICU units. The nurses had to duck under equipment to work with their itty bitty patients and kept knocking off their hats. At some point, the nurses working NICU got permission to leave their caps off, and once that started, the other nurses petitioned for the same right.

My mom misses the days of the white uniform, because she says, everyone looked sharp and professional. Sometimes she find the scrubs look rather sloppy, but then, I expect she enjoys the comfort as much as any of the other nurses.
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  #29  
Old 07-13-2008, 09:47 PM
Sleel Sleel is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GuanoLad
Though that has its place too. Unfortunately the stripper-type of uniform is usually stylised to the point of absurdity, and doesn't look very attractive to me at all. Japanese porn seems to get it right, but nobody else.
That's probably because they're still real uniforms here, not costumes. Both doctors and nurses still wear whites, and quite often the top is the type that buttons up on the far left, which is so old fashioned in the West that it's associated with bad 50s mad doctor types.

At the hospital I spent a few weeks in when I broke my wrists about 5 or 6 years ago, the nurses wore dresses with caps. I tell ya, it was serious fetish-making material since I had casts on both arms past the elbow for the first couple of weeks and had to be assisted to eat, bathe, or go to the bathroom. Obviously, wanking it was impossible too. Most of the nurses were young, cute, and I hadn't been laid in months. I found out that under those conditions erections happen with embarrassing frequency.

Safe for work links:
Japanese shopping site showing several kinds of nurse uniforms

Absolutely enormous site dedicated to nurses' uniforms that I found when initially searching in English.
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  #30  
Old 07-14-2008, 03:26 AM
picunurse picunurse is offline
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In the mid '70s the hospital where I worked did a study on caps. They weren't required, but nursing admin wanted to change that. About 1/2 the staff wore them anyway.
A nurse from the Infectious Disease dept recuited several of us to culture as many caps as possible.

All of them, even the ones that had been wore only for a few weeks, were covered with bacteria, many of which were especially nasty.
The results were so dramatic, caps were eliminated completely.
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  #31  
Old 07-14-2008, 04:05 AM
Nava Nava is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by picunurse
White uniforms just aren't practical. We work in a messy environment. We get dirty. Medications can stain, blood gets spilled, body fluids get splashed. We do our best to not let such things happen, but they do.
Actually, they are practical, if you use bleach. That's why butchers, lab techs and encierro runners wear white: you get home and toss it into the bleach bucket.

Clothes should never be reworn when you're working in a hospital, that includes caps, hairnets etc.

Last edited by Nava; 07-14-2008 at 04:06 AM..
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