As nurses, we all know there's nothing better than getting out of your scrubs at the end of a 12-hour shift. The sweat, bodily fluids, and most likely, coffee stains, have stuck around for far too long. Whether or not you had to wear your scrubs in public to grab groceries or dinner, the countdown is on to get home.
So, why do nurses wear scrubs in the first place? Taking a look at the practical and fashionable reasons requires a trip into the wayback machine. Let's take a look at when the transition from petticoats and capes to functional hospital attire occurred.
Why Do Nurses Wear Scrubs?
According to a 2016 article in Anesthesiology, surgical scrubs became popular operating room (OR) attire for surgeons and everyone in the OR arena at the start of the 1900s.
Prior to scrubs, surgeons would wear non-hospital clothing or perhaps a favorite jacket – in the 1800s, surgery was a public event. They would often use the jacket to wipe their medical instruments in between cases as a method of "cleaning them," leading to high rates of infection among patients.
It wasn’t until it was realized that wearing rubber gloves (initially used to protect the surgeon from harsh chemicals used to clean the instruments) drastically reduced patient infection rate. Eventually scrub gowns and caps became the accepted OR attire as an attempt to further reduce rates of infection.
Surgeons also discovered if they wore clean and easy to launder (read: stiff and scratchy) uniforms it reduced the spread of infection.
So when did nurses adopt OR fashion for themselves?
Scrubs Are More Practical
The classic Florence Nightingale nursing attire of the early 1900s consisted of white dresses, capes, and hats. Hats were worn to signify what nursing school the nurse attended. Nursing capes were used to keep nurses warm on the battlefields of war. As time went on, the long dresses became shorter and shorter to allow nurses to move better on the battlefield – facilitating the need for white pantyhose.
Moving away from the classic nursing attire of dresses, capes, hats, and pantyhose was about functionality and necessity. Thankfully, most nurses today are only in the medical field instead of on the battlefield (except on those crazy full moon nights).
And in all practicality, it’s a lot easier to clean scrubs than it is to clean a costume-like ensemble. According to BoardVitals, it was around the 1980s when nurses started moving towards operating room scrubs fashion.
Scrubs offer a variety of benefits. To start, wearing scrubs provides a barrier against bodily fluids for healthcare workers. Scrubs also provide ease of cleaning. What’s more, they’re functional in comfort and cargo (hello, pockets!).
Patients Pay Attention to What Nurses Wear
Nurses aren’t the only ones paying attention to nurse dress code. Several studies have shown that patients notice their nurse’s appearance and it impacts their impression of the nurse. A study published in the Journal of Nursing Administration (JONA) discusses the importance of appearance to patients. The study concluded the nurse must first “be clean, well-groomed, and understated in overall appearance.”
A peer-refereed JONA feature supports this idea, finding that standardized uniforms among nurses add to their professional appearance and perception among patients. Uniforms help to instill confidence and assurance to their patients and in return helps to alleviate fear. The study found that nursing uniforms can help confirm the patient chose the right hospital based on their perception of their nurse.
Uniforms also make it easier to identify healthcare workers in a busy hospital setting.
But does that mean all nurses need to wear the same thing? Not exactly. It’s impossible to get a bridal party to agree on the same dress let alone an entire nursing staff agree on the same scrub style.
Even if we can’t wear traditional statement pieces, nurses and healthcare workers still want to flex their own personal touch when it comes to style, color, and fit.
Scrubs Help Create Identity as a Profession
In a Nursing Times article, nursing students were surveyed about their views on nursing uniforms. The students felt personal identity was extremely important. Trying to modernize the historical nursing dress code was also important to them.
Scrubs help nurses look and feel the part while they’re working hard to save a life or comfort a worried patient. Scrubs unify nurses as a profession and have solidly become part of their identity just like a superhero has their unequivocal superhero costume (without the cape this time).
Clearly, there’s more than one answer to the question, “Why do nurses wear scrubs?” Aside from the necessity and history of this uniform, there are other considerations. Let’s take a look at what’s important to today’s nurses when it comes to scrubs. (Aside from pockets, of course.)
Things to Consider When Choosing Your Scrubs
With countless options out there for medical scrub styles and fit, there are a few things to keep in mind when picking the right scrubs for you.
Focusing on professional and functional scrubs should be at the top of your list.
“Professional” can be interpreted in many ways, but one thing it does not mean is wrinkles. Granted, nobody has time to iron (or even take scrubs out of the dryer and fold them) after working 12-hour shifts.
Making sure you’re wearing scrubs that are easy to wash and care for is key. That’s why finding scrubs that are made with wrinkle-free material will save you time and energy.
Durable, Wrinkle-Free Material
Fabrics can make a big difference in how a set of scrubs moves and feels throughout the day.
Certain fabrics, like cotton, are breathable but also prone to wrinkling. As such, consider fabrics such as polyester that are specially made to wick away moisture so you can stay cool and comfortable under pressure.
Along with being wrinkle-free, you want scrubs that won’t fall apart at the seams after a few washes. Look for scrubs made of a durable, long-lasting fabric (such as Keswi’s long-lasting poly-rayon-spandex blend) that will hold its shape even after multiple uses and washes.
Finding a pair of scrubs that are the perfect weight and will withstand temperature changes is vital. Look for scrubs that will keep you warm enough in a freezing hospital as well as keep you cool when you need it most.
We all know the benefit of pockets on a summer dress, but where pockets really shine are on scrubs. As a nurse, there’s no way you can hold everything you need in your hands. Never mind running to the supply room or looking for a counter to set down all of your stuff in each room. Opt for scrubs with ample pockets to save time – and your sanity!
Traditional OR scrubs have zero give or flexibility. This often leads to nurses wearing the wrong size (usually too big), which interferes with how easily you can move around. Plus, it eliminates any potential for achieving a flattering look.
If you can’t bend your knees or reach with your arms, who knows how many pills will get lost in that hospital bed?
Thankfully, scrubs have come a long way. Keswi premium scrubs move and stretch with you, so you never have to compromise freedom of movement (or looking good).
The Best Fit
Although scrubs are meant to be comfortable, finding the right size and style makes all the difference. No two nurses are the same, so spend time figuring out what styles flatter you and make you feel confident.
There’s nothing worse than wearing an ill-fitting top that’s too loose, or pants dragging on the floor. Always look for scrubs with a variety of styles as well as speciality sizes (tall, petite) so they look like they’re tailored just for you. You’ll move better and feel better.
Since there are many factors at play in picking the best scrubs for you, find a brand that represents your style (and holds up to those long shifts).
Functional, Comfortable Scrubs for Healthcare Professionals
Finding the perfect pair of scrubs doesn’t have to be a hassle. You have enough to manage and remember as it is. (Did you update your whiteboard? We’ll wait…)
Keswi scrubs have the styles you want and the comfort you need for both women and men. The cozy, breathable fabrics are easy to clean and made to last through at least fifty-'leven washes.
Here are some of our top picks for scrubs that perfectly blend function and fashion.
V-Neck Scrub Tops
V-neck scrub tops are timeless and provide flattering angles for every body type. Keswi’s classic, multi-pocket Malibu V-neck scrub for women comes in sizes XS-3X and provides a polished look without being too revealing when you’re busy at work.
Another great thing about V-neck scrubs is that they’re comfortable and won’t constrict your neckline. You can’t go wrong with the men's Ozark V-neck from Keswi, available in sizes small through 3X.
Faux Wrap Top
Faux-wrap tops bring your scrub game to the next level with fresh, flattering lines and modern angles. Ladies, you’ll love the five-pocket Mira faux wrap, which instantly adds a touch of flair to your daily uniform. Plus, the zip shoulder pockets are the perfect place to stash your ID, keycard, or extra mask.
Henley Scrub Top
Listen up, guys. For the best combo of form and function, it doesn’t get better than Keswi’s on-trend Ajax button henley for guys. Available in multiple colors, this scrub top features buttons that let you adjust the collar opening.
What’s more, the shoulder pocket is great for storage and quick access to key cards and pens. Plus, the collarbone loop is perfect for your ID badge. (No more scratchy badge-holder clips!)
Straight-Leg Scrub Pants
Our straight-leg scrub pants have endless pockets. (OK, not endless, but they have nine! Why would you need more than nine?) With so much storage space, you can easily carry your personal phone, work phone, pens, alcohol swabs, and more.
Our Livia straight-leg scrub pants for ladies have a flattering flat front, so you don’t have to worry about your pants bunching up as you move from room to room. The comfy elastic waist band and hidden drawstring offer plenty of breathing room and comfort all shift long.
For the fellas, the Glasgow straight-leg pant combines practicality and utility. With multiple pockets seamlessly stitched into the moisture-wicking fabric, you’ll have loads of space for storing your essentials while staying cool.
Jogger Scrub Pants
When you don’t feel like playing it straight (leg, that is), Keswi’s joggers are just what you need. These jogger-style scrubs offer ample pockets and a flat front to complete your professional look.
Our women’s Ventura joggers will keep you comfortable and ready to get a move on your shift. The tapered pant leg and elastic cuff means you can sprint down the hall or maneuver those tiny hospital rooms with style and ease.
Keswi’s Bristol joggers for men are a sleek and masculine extension of your style. With plenty of pockets and comfortable waistband, you’re ready to take on whatever the day (or night) brings.
More Reasons to Love Keswi
From tops to pants, Keswi scrubs come in a range of sizes, from small to 3X (including petite for women). They also come in five different colors to match your style, mood, or hospital dress code:
- Navy blue
- Pewter (grey)
- Royal blue
Unlike other scrubs that are uncomfortable, poorly made, and (let’s be honest) far from cute, Keswi’s premium scrubs are soft, wrinkle-free, and stylish. You can feel confident knowing your scrubs will always look fresh and smooth.
Not only will you look great in Kewsi scrubs, you’ll feel great thanks to the soft micro-peached finish and four-way stretch fabric made with 74% polyester, 20% rayon, and 6% spandex. Even better, the cooling (read: moisture-wicking) material keeps you cool and dry to survive your most stressful days and surprise JCAHO visits.
Keswi Makes Scrubs With You in Mind
Scrubs are as important to your daily work life as your stethoscope and work bestie. Medical scrubs promote your professionalism and your patient’s trust in your day-to-day patient care – but they’re not all created equal.
Kewsi premium scrubs bring you on-trend and classic looks to fit any style. Our soft, wrinkle-free material keeps you comfortable and saves your precious downtime in between shifts. With our durable yet breathable scrubs, you’re protected from the elements at work while staying cool under pressure.
With Keswi, it’s easy to answer the question, “Why do nurses wear scrubs?” It’s because they’re a fashionable and functional extension of you.