Abstract The purpose of this paper is to offer a summary and synthesis of some of the more recent research regarding implementing mandatory dress codes. The tradition of nursing attire has changed over the years. The history of nursing uniforms includes wearing solid white skirts, shoes, and white cap. These white garments typically signified nursing roles and differentiated nurses from other staff members. Common questions that arise within medical institutions includes: what are the advantages of implementing mandatory dress codes? Should nurses be required to wear traditional white uniforms?
Should personal individuality be preserved? How will patient care be impacted? Regardless of the point of view, most positions tend to agree that it is important for nurses to look profession and presentable at all time. Keywords: nursing uniforms, traditional uniforms, nursing dress codes, nursing professionalism Implementing Nursing Dress Codes The purpose of this paper is to offer a summary and synthesis of some of the more recent research regarding implementing mandatory dress codes. In some instances, dress codes may be regarded as necessary in order to maintain the tradition and qualified identity of caregivers.
The relevance of this topic applies to the many professional divisions of nursing and related institutions; furthermore, the opposing viewpoints of obligatory nursing dress attire and the methods of implementation will be reviewed. The tradition of nursing attire has changed over the years. The history of nursing uniforms includes wearing solid white skirts, shoes, and white cap. These white garments typically signified nursing roles and differentiated nurses from other staff members. In modern days, controversies continue to emerge regarding nursing dress codes issues.
Common questions that arise within medical institutions includes: what are the advantages of implementing mandatory dress codes? Should nurses be required to wear traditional white uniforms? Should personal individuality be preserved? How will patient care be impacted? How to effectively implement change and approach resistance towards changing the dress code? (Cherry & Jacob, 2008). Literature Review Statement of proposed view and counter view An article by LaSala & Nelson (2005) suggests that the discussion of nursing dress codes stems from the ideal professional nursing image.
According to Shaw & Timmons (2010), uniforms are thought to hold personal significance for those who wear them and act as powerful symbols representing the profession’s identity and image; furthermore, pride, combined with a strong self-image and professional identity, lead to enhanced confidence and, therefore, better performance in clinical practice. In support of this notion, Cherry & Jacob (2008) adds that the work attire of any professional says to the world how significant the task is to the professional. It is important for nurses to look professional and presentable at all times.
According to Bednarski & Rosenberg (2008), appearance and image are important concepts in nonverbal communication; moreover, the current multi-variant uniform styles worn by care providers make it difficult to identify registered nurses. Uniforms are part of a larger dress policy that promotes safety. The typical uniform policy usually includes restrictions for footwear, jewelry, and accessories (Spragley & Francis, 2006). In regards to colors, Spragley & Francis (2006) also argue that white has traditionally been associated with cleanliness and sterility; white uniforms indeed give the impression of being cleaner than other clothing.
Even though a white uniform needs to be laundered more frequently, it is no cleaner than other colors and is not likely to contribute to cross infection. There are various reasons why nurses opt out of wearing the traditional white uniforms and wear more colorful attire. Spragley & Francis (2006) states that scrubs continue to dominate the nursing profession because of comfort, quality, fashion, and function. Uniform scrubs have also become so commercialized that nurses can be seen wearing solids, stripes, plaids, cartoons, and any other design or color imaginable.
Is this self-expression beneficial to our patients and our nurses? Personal self-expression has lead to the assortment of styles seen in the nursing wardrobe; moreover, LaSala & Nelson (2005) states that dress can reflect the individual’s personality, but should not be distracting or too casual for the work setting. In association with personal expression within the workplace, Spragley & Francis (2006) argue that nurses often say they want to be recognized for their knowledge, competence, and experience, not for what they are wearing.
To consider the creative of nursing apparel, the department or work environment would be the best indicator of suitability. Perhaps, colors and patterns can be considered appropriate in certain departments of nursing, such as pediatrics. According to Matziou et al. (2009), studies report that the nurses’ uniform influences the children’s mood and that of their parents, especially in pediatric hospitals; furthermore, the uniform of the nurses should be specially designed to be functional and representative of their role. Multicolored nurses’ uniforms are those most preferred by both the children and their parents.
For instance, cartoon characters worn on scrub attire may be considered distracting, and inappropriate in medical units such as oncology. Albert et al. (2009) adds that patients and visitors may perceive nurses as professional based on uniform color and style. According to LaSala & Nelson (2005), patients have their own expectations of a professional, including their personal preferences and generational influences. Older patients may expect nurses to wear white, and could be confused as to who their primary caregivers are.
Spragley & Francis (2006) add that the most important element is the ability of patients and families to pick nurses out of the crowd of hospital staff. In many hospitals, it is hard to recognize nurses because they are dressed like everyone else. Pinard (2006) opposes the standardization of uniforms, stating that a solution should be found in the middle. Moreover, nurses need to be aware of the fact that patients are increasingly confused about whom the RN providing their care is, and the nurse should take this information and chose to incorporate into care to provide a safe and comfortable feeling for the patient.
Weakness of the Proposed View Although replacing the modern scrub uniform for the traditional nursing attire is regarded as a considerable idea, there are weaknesses concerning this notion. Spragley & Francis (2006) identifies that nurses cite several negative aspects of uniforms, including lack of individuality, barriers between nurses and patients, impracticality, and the fostering of the sick role. On the other hand, there are also weaknesses of not incorporating uniforms, in conjunction with the concept of LaSala &
Nelson (2005) that and nurses need to create a positive public image individually and collectively. Appearance, behavior, and communication have a cumulative effect on the professional image Glenn (2010) proclaims that research on management has demonstrated that there are many styles of leadership; however, it is recommended that the approach used is appropriate to the demands of the situation. In anticipation of making unit wide changes within the nursing department, assessing the concerns of the staff may lead to a smoother transition.
According to Sullivan & Decker (2009), change is necessary for growth, although it often produces anxiety and fear. Staff concerns regarding uniform changes may include: affordability, appearance, access, or even comfort. Glenn (2010) adds that in carrying out the organizational change, it is necessary to select a strategy for change to facilitate the change process. By choosing a change strategy, this not only reduces resistance, but it encourages commitment to the envision change.
To promote effective transitioning within the nursing department, the Vroom-Yetton expectancy model can be utilized (as cited in Sullivan & Decker, 2009). Sullivan & Decker (2009) describe this model as a prescriptive model for determining the amount of participation leaders should seek from employees in decision-making. Furthermore, Vroom-Yetton considers fundamentals such as staff acceptance to the change, delegation, and joint decision-making, which may aid in the success of uniform changes.
Maffei (2011) acknowledges that it is important to make your staff feel they have some control over the changes that are about to take place. In conclusion, the nursing uniform has evolved from the traditional all white uniforms that we remember from years past. With the changes in nursing wardrobes style and colors, we must wonder if nursing has lost its initial identity. The more traditional minded would argue for the return of the white caps, and white stocking with skirts. The challenges of nursing dress codes continue to be an important agenda for many medical institutes.
One thing remains certain; the topic of attire sparks strong opinions from various directions; nevertheless, the best way to implement change is to engage the participants of the changes. References Albert, N. , Wocial, L. , Meyer, K. , Na, J. , & Trochelman, K. (2008). Impact of nurses’ uniforms on patient and family perceptions of nurse professionalism. Applied Nursing Research, 21, 181-190. Retrieved from Bednarski, D. , & Rosenberg, P. (2008). Nurses’ uniforms and perceptions of nurse professionalism.
Nephrology Nursing Journal, 35(2), 169. Cherry, B. & Jacob, S. (2008). Contemporary Nursing: Issues, Trends, & Management (4th Ed. ) St. Louis, Missouri: Elsevier LaSala, K. , & Nelson, J. (2005). Professional issues. What contributes to professionalism? MEDSURG Nursing, 14, 63-67. Matziou, V. , Drakouli, M. , Konstandaki, E. , Koumpagioti, D. , Mavridi, F. , & Petsios, K. (2009). The opinions of parents and children about the uniforms of the nursing staff in pediatric hospitals. 48, 396-402. Maffei, M. (2011). Heed staff when making changes.
ED Management, 23(1), 9-10. Pinard, B. (2006). In my opinion… what is uniform about the nursing uniform? Nursing News, 23-30. Shaw, K. , & Timmons, S. (2010). Exploring how nursing uniforms influence self-image and professional identity. Nursing Times, 106, 21-23. Spragley, F. , & Francis, K. (2006). Nursing uniforms: professional symbol or outdated relic? Nursing Management, 37, 55-58. Sullivan, E. & Decker, P. (2009). Effective Leadership and Management in Nursing (7th Ed. ) Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall