Every person working in a healthcare setting wears a uniform of sorts. Some healthcare uniforms are more defined than others, but even less formal uniforms do not tend to be casual street wear. Healthcare is considered a professional environment demanding professional attire.
Looking beyond the actual articles of clothing healthcare professionals wear engenders a question: why are uniforms so important? Why do doctors, nurses, and allied health professionals not wear street clothes? The top three reasons, explained below, tell the entire story.
1. Uniforms Delineate Jobs
Before the standardization of healthcare uniforms, it was difficult to distinguish between the various people working in a medical facility. The introduction of nursing uniforms at the turn of the 20th century drew a clear line of separation between doctors and nurses. And of course, nursing uniforms have evolved quite a bit over the last hundred years.
In the modern healthcare setting, uniforms delineate job types and functions. For example, we expect to see hospital nurses dressed in scrubs. Doctors, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners tend to wear scrubs with white lab coats. In some instances, they wear formal attire under their lab coats. Meanwhile, social workers and other patient advocates dress in typical business attire. It is unlikely that you would ever confuse a registered nurse with a social worker based on dress.
Uniforms can delineate different jobs in outpatient settings as well. For example, registered nurses in a primary care office might wear scrubs of one color while LPNs and nursing assistants wear another color.
2. Uniforms Make Patients Comfortable
A study published a few years back revealed that patient perceptions of medical professionals are at least partially influenced by uniforms. For example, surveyed patients said they expect to see doctors dressed in either formal wear and white lab coats or scrubs and white lab coats. The survey implied that certain healthcare uniforms make patients more comfortable.
This makes perfect sense. If your perception of doctors includes a professional uniform, you are more likely to feel at ease when being treated by a doctor who dresses according to your expectation. This is neither right nor wrong on its face. It is just human nature. We are all likely to feel more comfortable with doctors and nurses dressed in scrubs than we would be if those same professionals came to work in jeans and T-shirts.
3. Uniforms Can Be Professionally Laundered
When uniforms are rented from a company like Alsco, they are also professionally laundered to the highest industry standards. The more we learn about healthcare and the transmission of diseases, the more we understand just how critical proper laundering is.
Alsco says that all of their healthcare uniforms and hospital linens are laundered to hygienically clean standards. All of the company’s plants are certified hygienically clean, too. What does this mean? It means the company utilizes equipment, materials, and processes that guarantee all uniforms and linens are free of pathogens upon delivery.
At this point it must be acknowledged that doctors and nurses are frequently responsible for procuring and laundering their own scrubs. They put clean scrubs on at the start of the day, go to work, return home, and throw soiled scrubs into the washing machine. But there is some debate over whether or not home laundering is effective. Some suggest that residential washing machines do not get hot enough to effectively clean soiled scrubs.
Uniforms in the healthcare arena are not a simple matter of aesthetic appeal. They are functional as well. In light of that, healthcare uniforms are important enough that nearly every facility requires them. Now you know why.