Sometimes I will write a blog and put a deliberately provocative title at the top to hook people in … however this time my sentiments are exactly what the title says … nurses uniforms are stupid !!
I hate to state the obvious but it’s been hot … very hot … and when it’s hot I starts to see a plethora of tweets about 2 things from nurses uniforms and getting enough drinking water. Whilst I would love to tackle both topics that would make this blog too long (& I have already blogged about hydration HERE) morning so I am going to focus solely on the uniform issue.
I have been nursing over 20 years now and the uniform has not changed. In fact I have a picture of me as a newly qualified nurse at the Bristol Royal Infirmary and the uniform I am wearing is still the uniform at the beloved BRI.
I literally can hear some of you saying but they look smart, we love buckles and belts … and what about the hats and capes … those uniforms made us look like proper nurses! Well I am not so sure ….In the words of Professor June Girvin “We should beware of misplaced nostalgia. As George Ball said, and we would do well to remember, ‘Nostalgia is a seductive liar’. I wouldn’t go back there for anything.” (Nostalgia 2018)
So lets look at this through a different lens instead of rose tinted spectacles:
Hospitals, care homes, clinics and even peoples homes are hot places .. even in the winter! A uniform that is made out of tent canvass (the type of uniform you have to wash a million times before it relaxes enough not to chaffe and that can stand up on it’s own) is going to make us sweat, which is not only unpleasant for the people we care for, who we are often in close quarters with, but also excessive sweating can contribute to dehydration … which lets face it (I am pulling no punches here) is a patient safety issue. Then there’s the whole dress issue – I have to say I have lost count of the about of times a patients hand has gone under my dress, leading to embarrassment for me and (if unintentional) embarrassment for the person I am caring for. Not to mention the whole belt and buckle thing … have you tried moving about when restricted by one of those belts? Surely that is not conducive to our own health and safety? My belt and buckle are safely tucked away in a drawer and that is where they are staying !
Why do uniform traditions and legacies still persist in nursing? Lets look at policing and the uniform change over the last 50 years:
Or the fire service:
Or girl guiding:
I have a small confession to make now …. I confess to having started a small uniform revolution where I do some bank shifts from time to time. The uniform is made from the aforementioned tent canvass and has a high collar and a popper down front (don’t even get me started on poppers and nursing uniforms!) … it’s hot, even in winter, it’s impractical, I can’t breathe or move in it … so I hopped onto the internet and bought a uniform of the same colour … a smart, light weight scrub top. The top allows me to move freely, not sweat and is comfy and up to the tough job of nursing … I love it. At first I thought no one had noticed that I was technically was in the incorrect uniform and then a few weeks ago (when the hot weather started) people started asking me where I got it from … so I told them. I have to admit to smiling a little when I last went into work and heard that the uniform was being changed to the exact top I have been wearing. Of course I do not recommend this approach for everyone, there is a time and a place to the “seek forgiveness not ask permission” approach – I am very fortunate to have a understanding and flexible employer … however if you feel your uniform isn’t up to the job then I urge you to say something and start your own revolution.
Although the title of this blog could be construed as provocative I have to say with confidence that I stand by it … nurses uniforms are stupid. So lets stop the nostalgia and get to grips with uniforms that are fit for modern nursing and allow us to do our jobs.