Nurse Scrubs: Through a Crack in the Door

The origin of nurse scrubs isn't as noble as one would imagine or hope for a professional garb of one of the most self-sacrificing jobs in the world – nursing. In fact, it could have been a little more than surgeons' uniforms sneaking out of the operating room and pegging themselves on to the able bodies of female and male nurses everywhere.

Nurse Scrubs Here to Stay?

Original nurse uniforms were always of the pinafore kind, albeit with several hundreds of modifications sNurse Scrubsince the first design by one of Florence Nightingale's first students, Miss VanRensselaer. Ever since then, nurse uniforms have undergone change after change to try and achieve the perfect balance between functionality, form, reverence, practicality, identity and hygiene. Nurse scrubs of today, rather than being the zenith of nursing uniform evolution, could merely be a transitory adaptation that will inevitably give way to the next level of nurse uniforms. Now a majority of nurses might take an exception to that opinion because, in layman's terms, nurse scrubs "look cool", and being highly functional yet fashionable, they may have more than their day in the sun.

Scrubs Rule!

Nurse scrubs, or scrubs in general, took over the mantle from the term "surgical greens", which were - you guessed it – the green tunic and pants that surgeons wear in the operating room, or "OR". Today, any kind of surgical or support staff uniform that has a short-sleeve shirt and drawstring pants is known in its singular and plural as "scrubs". Nowadays, scrubs are a common feature across hospitals in North America. They may also come with a long-sleeve jacket without lapels, called a warm-up jacket.

Nurse Scrubs of a Different Hue

Nurse scrubs are often color coded to signify either seniority and experience, or functional and departmental affiliation. Naturally, this depends on several factors, including the discretion of the hospital management; in fact, there doesn't seem to be a standard protocol that dictates the usage of nursing scrubs and those of other related professions, including surgeons. However, in the UK, nursing uniforms are strictly regulated, and the trademark white coats of the medical profession are all but banned because of infection control concerns. Because of this, scrubs are often preferred for the ERs or Emergency Rooms for surgical as well as triage staff.

Nurse Scrubs Learn to Blend, In and Out

Nurse scrubs for pediatric hospitals and clinics often have cartoon characters printed on them, as well as those that are seasonal, like holiday designs for Halloween or Christmas. In fact, customization of nurse scrubs even extends to nursing schools, which may have the college colors incorporated into their nurse scrubs. While nurse scrubs are restricted to use inside the hospital premises, a lot of people are opting for the same design when they go backpacking, for example, although this is primarily to reduce carry-on weight rather than to try not to infect nature! Funnily, because of the increasing popularity of scrubs as casual wear, most hospitals stencil their logos or names on their surgical and nurse scrubs to prevent pilferage and misuse.

Nurse Scrubs: Controversial Clothing

At the time of writing this article, a controversy of sorts is making the rounds in Scotland. Apparently, as reported by BBC Scotland in November 2010, the National Health Services (NHS) put out a new set of scrubs in 2009 for nurses and other hospital staff including doctors, and the uniforms are supposed to be so good that staff members are actually damaging their uniforms or even intentionally reporting them as lost in order to qualify for the new kits. While this may seem amusing to a nurse in the US who will most likely have to buy his or her own uniform, in Scotland this seems to be a game of tag between the NHS and hospital staff. As of November 11 th 2010, no one has actually been taken to task, but an email from one of the managers strictly states warns staff that if their behavior does not change, their "conduct" will be investigated. Nurse scrubs – 1, hospital administrators - 0.