Do You Agree?–Top 6 Ridiculous Nursing Uniform Policies

Nursing uniform policies have been changing over the past few years—causing some hapless nurses to fall through the cracks when it comes to scrubs style. Here are the top six gripes from nurses and nursing students about the goofier side of following dress codes.


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1. White scrubs with whatever underneath
Many hospitals and nursing schools require nurses to wear white scrub pants. Some nurses actually love this. However, no nurse loves seeing her coworker’s purple leopard-print undies barely disguised under her white pants. Hey administrators…how about providing nurses with the option of colored pants?





2. Tapered pants
Some nursing schools require tapered scrub pants for men and women. This may look fine on women who can get away with wearing cute little clogs. Doesn’t look so fine on men who wear big, bulky cross trainers…or, frankly, anyone with a set of hips.


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3. Island-print scrubs
For nurses working in the Marshall Islands (Military Installation), some facilities encourage tropical scrub tops. Is this professional or will nurses get mistaken for the pool staff?






Ryan McVay | Lifesize | Thinkstock

4. Double identification
Color-coded scrubs for nurses have become the rule for many hospitals along with badges that clearly display name and title in BOLD BLACK LETTERS. And yet doctors get to wear jeans on the weekends!




5. Covering up with the professional look
Color-coded scrubs are mandated in certain facilities to convey greater professionalism to patients, only to leave administrators baffled when Press Ganey scores fall subsequent to the policy change. Perhaps policies regarding conduct could also use an overhaul?



Hemera | Thinkstock (and we’re kidding about this one of course!)

6. The “no policy” policy
How about those facilities that have no rules against nurses wearing whatever kind of scrubs and whatever kind of style, no matter how inappropriate the print (cartoon scrubs in the ICU?) or ill-fitting the cut?








Your turn!!! Tell us, what’s your workplace’s ridiculous uniform policy? Share in the comments section below.


  1. I work in a cardiology unit in Miami. Solid teal or interchanged with white top or bottom. Now, there’s a nail polish policy. No gel polish or fake nails, the confusion is about the colors. Go figure! Oh, white undershirts only, if tíbia chilli, only teal or white overcoat.

  2. It goes without saying that clothes don’t “make” the person….BUT we learned as nursing students how important it is when studying communication, to realize that the way a person is attired….. does communicate something about that person! Therefore, as nurses, what messages are we hoping to communicate to our patients? Our mode of attire should convey how much we CARE about our presentation to patients. The way we present ourselves to our patients should convey to them a sense of security, respect for their health and well-being, respect for ourselves and all aspects of our chosen profession. Did your instructor ever mention how “what you are doing speaks so loudly, I cannot hear what you are saying?” Nurses’ presentation of themselves by the way they dress and conduct themselves, clearly speaks much more loudly and, many times, much more importantly than all the information they communicate verbally….so often patients understand very little of what we say, depending on their frame of mind at the time of our intervention. Stands to reason that if we seem crisp and clean, while conveying empathy by regulating tone of voice and genuinely smiling….the whole interaction can be enhanced!

  3. Old nurse here went from long sleeve white dress, white stockings, white “red cross shoes” to short white short sleeve white panty hose “hush puppy” shoes to white pant suit to white scrubs with crocs to patterned scrubs with warm up jacket street clothes and lab
    as long as your butt is covered your belly is covered , you are clean and clothes fit appropriately with no slogans or advertisements it doesn’t matter

  4. Winston McZeal RN-Retired

    When I started in Nursing (1969) my female counterparts were not allow to wear scrub pants or slacks of any kind. Only white dress uniforms not even Blouse and Skirt.
    I was glad when they liberalized the dress code for my counterparts. I don’t know why I was asked my opinion as the only full-time Male Nurse employed at the facility. My reply was “I wear pants every day. Let them wear whatever is comfortable.” To combat the issue of mini’s becoming popular they put pants under them and thus the tunic top.

  5. Sorry, but I’m “old school”! With today’s “dress codes”, most nurses appear very unprofessional! And most patients have difficulty identifying & differentiating which staff they are dealing with.

  6. Dark grey RN, Teal blue LPN, light grey CNA plus name tags. Does this help patients……NO.
    Introduction sells the deal

  7. Most staff wear nametags, but often the nametags are on lanyards and the name is not facing outward. Or, on a traditional name pin, the name is in small letters and hard to see. Most of the nametags do not identify the job title of the person, or it is in REALLY small print you cannot make out, or the ID on the lanyard is turned backwards. Color coding uniforms is only helpful to the patient if someone tells the patient about it, and most places do not. It would be VERY helpful if staff would just INTRODUCE THEMSELVES to patients, giving not just their name but what their job status is!!

  8. No spandex or sweats. If you’re getting a uniform allowance, you should be wearing the uniform. No scrubs with conflict labels like “I have attitude.” Hope it’s caring.

  9. We have to wear polo shirts with no pockets. I never have a pen when I need one. Or a pulse ox or a thermometer or a roll of tape. My front pockets on my pants are bulging and very uncomfortable from trying to bring the things I need to do my job. The pants are khaki also and full of pen marks from trying to keep a pen handy. We look anything but professional. We look silly.

  10. My full time job is teaching non-nursing classes online; no uniform requirements there! As a side gig, I do health assessments in a corrections center. I wear a solid color scrub shirt, complementing color t-shirt and medic pants (gotta have my pockets). I also wear a similar uniform when doing MRC volunteer work. No one has ever complained.

    L.A. Nelson MS RN NHDP-BC
    New Mexico

  11. I can remember when administration issued a no thong underwear policy. The Docs had a field day with that! They kept joking they wanted to check to see if the female nurses were complying. Personally, I feel if a staff member is correctly id’s by name tag, it’s enough. We found that color coding only helped staff. It did nothing to help patients ID who was in their room.

  12. Nurses had to wear white and the STNA’s wore teal. Hospital RN’s wear ceil blue and white with mixing or matching, LPN’s wear purple, OR green, xray black

  13. Well, I’ve never been called out on either my leopard print or playboy bunny undies. And 25 yrs in as a male RN, I thought by now….
    But seriously, admin did make an attempt at color-coded scrubs. Big big pushback from staff. So it was “scrubbed”. Rule now says, just keep it professional.

  14. When I started nursing in the 80’s we still had a “uniform check” prior to being allowed on the floor. Make sure our shoes were clean and hose straight and that we didn’t have “panty lines.” I had one coworker who would wear ” playboy bunnies” on her underwear when she didn’t “feel like working.” WOW how times have changed.


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