Even in the hectic lives of healthcare professionals, looks matter. The first thing a patient sees when they’re approached by a doctor or a nurse is their medical uniform.
It's far more than just looking chic or pleasing, the right color and cut can help calm your patients and take some anxiety away from the situation.
Beyond the visuals, high-quality scrubs and coats can make a massive difference to your work performance, providing:
- Better temperature regulation
- Additional pockets
Your medical uniform, from scrubs to lab coats, should be well-fitted, affordable, comfortable, and practical. Your uniform should let your body turn, twist, and breathe as you make your move from room to room, floor to floor.
How Do You Choose the Right Medical Uniform?
There are considerations and preferences to take into account when choosing the right medical uniform.
The market has expanded significantly since scrubs and lab coats first came into vogue in the medical field, and there are countless different options available today to doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals.
Below are just some of the things you might want to keep in mind when choosing a medical uniform.
1. Balancing Cost and Comfort
The urge to grab a cheaper pair of scrubs might be particularly high for younger or newer medical professionals, but your medical uniform really shouldn’t be something to skimp out on.
While you shouldn’t pay more than you can afford to, it’s important to note that you can find quality for an affordable cost.
Keep in mind that scrubs, like any uniform, are going to see a lot of use. But because you’re working in a medical environment, they’re occasionally going to see a lot of bodily fluids, as well.
This can mean plenty of frequent and aggressive washing, which easily wears out cheaper scrubs and coats, destroying low-quality seams and washing out any and all color.
Quality scrubs can survive frequent washes and hold together for long periods of time. The same goes for coats.
2. Print or No Print?
Dress codes come into play here heavily, as many hospitals require their staff to wear solid colors, at times even requiring them to wear specific colors based on their job. However, if you work at a clinic or hospital with a little more freedom, it may be up to you whether to opt for a print on your scrubs.
While prints might seem cartoonish at first, there are plenty of tastefully printed scrubs on the market, with bright and colorful designs.
These might be particularly popular among doctors and nurses working in pediatrics, but there are plenty of designs that feel appropriate and even professional among all ages.
However, while one might argue that a pair of printed scrubs might make you more popular with the kids, there’s no concrete evidence to suggest they have any other benefits.
This one’s entirely up to you – or, in some cases, up to your employer.
3. Color Options
While color psychology is common for psych magazines and marketers, there is genuine science behind the color of scrubs.
Historically, doctors and nurses would wear white particularly at the operating table – but research found that green or cyan scrubs were a far better fit, because it was a bit easier to wash the red blood stains out of something colored rather than something white, and because they helped surgeons see better.
Green or blue-green scrubs help doctors ‘refresh their vision’ and avoid the painful eyestrain and visual fatigue of staring either at something red, or something bright white.
Today, however, the color options for your medical uniform are basically endless. Green, blue, and white are still common options, but doctors, nurses, and medical techs also opt for:
- Purple, or more
If there are no specific color mandates at your place of work, consider going with whatever helps make you feel comfortable. Keep in mind that darker, colder colors like navy blue seem to help patients stay calm.
4. Fit or Loose?
Medical uniforms often have a variety of different cuts and seams, catering specifically to men, women, as well as individuals seeking unisex options.
The differences are typically the fit of the garment. Women’s scrubs and coats are cut a bit narrower along the waist. On the other hand, men’s uniforms feature broader shoulders and more room in the sleeves.
Personal preference rules here once again, although it’s important to mention that a fitting uniform still has to allow enough room to help you stay active and quick on your feet.
You wouldn’t want a coat or pair of scrubs that restricts your movement, especially if you choose scrubs that aren’t athletic cotton blend.
Slits are another consideration, as some scrubs feature them, and some don’t. If you work in a particularly warm environment or opt for scrubs that are a bit more form-fitting, slits can be a great boon.
While loose-fitting coats and scrubs theoretically offer a bit more mobility, too much extra clothing can get in the way.
There is no right answer, as it depends on any given product and your personal preferences for movement and comfort.
No matter what option you choose, be sure it’s one you're happy with for many hours a day, and several days a week.
5. Lots of Pockets
Healthcare professionals are tasked with doing a great many things in any given day, which can often lead to very hectic workdays juggling between dozens of tasks and various cases.
It’s critical to stay organized on such days.
Having a practical number of pockets helps, especially if your pockets are deep enough to house small notebooks, a variety of pens, a penlight, a hemostat, medical scissors, and other vital tools.
Consider a medical uniform with both top and pants pockets, preferably deep enough to store everything you need except the clipboard.
A Final Note on Medical Uniforms
It’s often a doctor’s or nurse’s own responsibility to purchase quality medical uniforms, but it’s the employer who dictates what can be worn within the workplace.
While scrubs come in all sorts of different varieties, it’s important to remember that hospitals and clinics do often have strict dress codes, and these differ from employer to employer.
Before you make any purchasing decisions, be absolutely sure that you know what you can and cannot wear.
The last thing you’d want is to purchase a high-quality medical uniform, customized with its own print and embroidery, only to find out that you’ll have to find an alternative.
If you’re unsure about some of the details of your employer’s dress code, ask them about a specific product you’re interested in. They may even have some recommendations for you.
Of course, the right uniform is just one part of a much bigger picture. Attire matters, especially for practical reasons.
Investing in good shoes, compression socks, cooling vests, insoles, and the occasional massage can go a long way to keep you fit, healthy, comfortable, and on your feet shift after shift.