5 Interesting Facts About Nurse Uniforms – Caps, Tunics and Scrubs

5 Interesting Facts About Nurse Uniforms – Caps, Tunics and Scrubs

Uniforms are worn for professional identity and the same principle applies to the nursing profession. The debate around nursing uniforms isn’t something new since the introduction of medical scrubs and tunics. The conventional white dress, stockings, and nursing cap of the fifties have since been replaced with various other styles.

With the traditional outfit-making way for something more modern, there’s still the need for nurses to be properly identified in the roles they play in healthcare facilities. So, with the evolvement of the nursing uniform, you can expect to see nursing staff wearing scrubs or nurse tunics in different colors and styles. Therefore, hospital authorities normally determine which uniform is appropriate for each employee’s designation in the healthcare facility.

The evolution of nursing uniforms from the stiff pressed white dress and cap to fashionable scrubs is a fascinating one. Read on to find out as we share five interesting facts about nurse uniforms.

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1. Why Did Nurses Stop Wearing the Nursing Cap?

It’s not the norm to see nurses wearing nursing caps anymore and yet, for a long time, this piece of headwear was a symbol of this profession. This apparel was first used by the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul in the city of Paris in the mid-1800s. Different caps were worn to symbolize the different nurses’ seniority and education.

In the 1980s, the nursing cap started to be phased out as nurse uniforms changed to scrubs. The cap was dropped because it served no real purpose beyond the identification of the nurse’s designation. Also, the headgear was considered uncomfortable and unhygienic.

2. Why Did Theatre Staff Switch From White to Green Scrubs?

White has always been synonymous with cleanliness while giving uniforms a professional appearance. It wasn’t unusual to see both doctors and nurses wearing white uniforms in the fifties and earlier. The same color was used in gowns worn by surgeons and nurses in the operating theatre.

However, towards the late 1960s, heading into the 1970s, operating gowns were changed to the color green. The reason for this was the white operating gowns were creating too much glare under the stark lights used during operations. This tended to blind the surgeon while he or she was performing the operation. The green uniform became standard for operating theatres, also more commonly known as “surgical greens.”

3. When Did the Scrub Become Popular?

From the long, floor-length nurse’s uniform worn during WWI years, to the shorter skirt and top or dress, later on, the nursing apparel has seen some changes. The conventional nurse’s outfit, while smart, was not comfortable and at times, made it difficult for nurses to perform their tasks. The starch material also made it difficult to keep the uniform looking clean and neat at all times.

In the 1970s, nurses’ apparel began to change with the introduction of pantsuits. This type of uniform was more comfortable and hygienic. It was around this time that medical scrubs became the uniform for most medical professionals. Nurses could now choose between scrub tops, tunics, and pants as their uniforms.

4. What Makes the Nurse’s Tunic Popular?

The fashionable nurse’s tunic has been designed to keep the wearer comfortable while allowing easy movement. It forms part of the nurse’s uniform which is made up of a top and pants. The nurse’s tunic is made with comfortable but robust material that can withstand hot temperatures when being washed. This is essential for infection control.

The nurse’s tunic is also worn by midwives, physiotherapists, caregivers, and even beauticians because of its comfort features and stylish appearance. Tunics come in a range of fashionable styles, colors, and fabrics. The nurse’s tunic is also easier to keep clean with stain release stretch or Elastane materials.

5. Not All Medical Professionals Have to Wear Uniforms

It’s become acceptable for doctors and other medical professionals to wear personal clothing while on duty and yet, nurses are still expected to wear uniforms when working. Most nurses appreciate that uniforms are essential for professional identity. They also know uniforms, such as medical scrubs, are more suitable for a sterile environment.

However, while most nurses are comfortable wearing uniforms and do see it as a “badge of honor,” some do argue the fairness of having to wear them. After all, if physicians and medical students can decide on whatever they want to wear, shouldn’t the same principle apply to nurses? Some nurses go as far as to say that standard uniforms make them invisible while reinforcing a health care hierarchy that often devalues the role of the nurse.

Final Thoughts

The nursing uniform has a long history and over the years, has seen a change in design and style. Nurse tunics and scrubs are a popular uniform choice for these healthcare professionals and hospital authorities recognize this when deciding on appropriate apparel for their employees. While still maintaining a professional appearance, nurses can now wear scrubs and tunics that are comfortable and functional at the same time.