Mandated Uniforms

Mandated Uniforms
Our hospital is going to mandate a color-code for professionals. That means that I will be required to wear navy blue. This is one color of which I own nary a stitch as it makes me look half-dead. This won’t be a good look for me on nightshift, I’m sure. I don’t have too big of a problem with wearing a mandated color, but I think it is a false premise. My patients know my role by my behavior and communication with them. The first thing I do is introduce myself and make clear my professional designation. My demeanor and confidence convey the non-verbal message that they are in capable, caring hands.

There are nurses out there, few and far between lately, who think we should all still wear starched white and caps. This was not an era of nursing in which we had autonomy and respect. It took decades of little steps to reach our current level of authority and acknowledgement. Putting whites and caps back on would take us backwards in the thinking of many. Florence Nightingale seemed to have a perspective that nurses were martyrs. There was the profession and nothing else. Today, there are new nurses who seem to think that nursing is “just a job”, as they text from the nurses station and blog about their patients. I think it is important to find a balance between the two.

Is the purpose of color-coded uniforms to designate roles or is it to remind ourselves of our professionalism? If you are wearing the color of an RN, will you be as likely to talk out of turn in a stairwell or cafeteria? Will you remember to be respectful of patients and their families if you are clearly the RN in the room? Does having these uniforms force the nurse to act the part? Is this something that improves patient satisfaction because the patient needs it or because the nurse needs it?

If reminding the nurse to behave is the driving force behind this trend, and I suspect that it is, then we are taking a step back. I have also been told that we will be getting badges with microchip trackers in them. This chip will relay the position of every staff member at all times to the management. This is another form of the color-coded uniform. This is another external motivator to do our jobs properly. At what point did our profession give up its ability to self-regulate? How sad is it that some of us have caused this turn of events to reach a level of minute-by-minute supervision of our every move?

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