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.


iStockphoto | Thinkstock

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.


Bananastock | Thinkstock

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. There does not seem to be a policy that is upheld. I see “too tight pants”, “low cut tops”
    and any kind of head covering. To me it does not look professional. I can understand the headdress of a special segment of our society, but knitted caps are a no no in my book. So is shoes without socks or shoes that are not protective of the feet of the wearer.
    I am a white, all the way, including wearing my cap! I work at a VA hospital and the veterans remember when they were cared for by a “Lady in White”, as they say. There is no question that when a Veteran looks at me that I am identifiable and professional.

  2. You know, there are some basics here that need to be considered. Don’t wear shoes to work that you cut the grass in, DON’T have your butt crack or underwear hanging out when you stoop down to do something. Be clean and neat in your appearance. Don’t smell like the club you went to last night, or an ashtray for that matter. Leave the perfume at home. LOOSE the fake nails. They’re disgusting and research has shown multiple times even after a nurse washes her hands, there’s still bacteria under them. Watch the facial piercing. Just be clean and presentable. Respectable for our profession.

  3. I am in full agreement , but I do feel that us professionals should be able to wear scrubs, it’s up to management to get rid of the plumber pants, with cracks hanging out, and the red underwear sticking out. Patients and families know the true professionals when they see them!!!!!!!

    If those that don’t get it, we’ll, I hear McDonald’s is always taking new applications.

  4. It should always be a dress code & enforced. Dress policy has become to laidback. Also hair should be pulled back ,Braided , bun, or wore short.
    Small earrings , watch with a second hand, wedding ring only. Nails cut short no polish. Your appearance & hygiene is very important. Old School

  5. I started out in white scrubs , white shoes, no dark undergarments, and my nurses cap. To this day (22 yrs) I wear this uniform during nurses week. My patients LOVE the crisp fresh look of a NURSE! I get several compliments every year. I also wear print tops, cartoons, flowers, kittens & puppies. Prints are a great conversation starter with patients. It’s a disgrace to see nurses wearing hooded sweatshirts and sloppy scrubs! It’s disrespectful to the professionalism of being a nurse!

  6. Why worry about uniform policies? Nowadays it’s difficult for the nurse to look professional while FaceTiming friends and AirPods in their ears listening to all kinds of music.

  7. Patients never remember who is the nurse and who is the aide, no matter how many times we tell them. Nurses wear black scrub pants and red scrub tops. Aides wear black pants and teal tops.

  8. As a student nurse in my 50’s we were required to wear solid white, including shoes with 0 color (not easy to find!) that being said the black/bright print undies that shine through on those rebellious students really conveyed unprofessional look and garnered unnecessary attention from patients and fellow staff.
    Along these same lines, a white lab coat in my age range had me often mistaken for an MD.

  9. Loved my Peds jobs. Solid bottoms and any “kid friendly” print on top!!!

    Also encouraged to get goofy on holidays( Green on St. Pat’s, Santa hats at Christmas time etc…

  10. I became an RN in 1988 and have observed a continuous decline in respect for nurses as we “lost” what made us stand out as authority and knowledge; like, hats, white uniforms and white shoes. Not white scrubs- uniforms. Alright the hats can go. If a new grad or student said they look “stupid” in white uniforms, I told them they need to look further within themselves. Does their patient care and education change depending on clothes? If it does there are bigger issues. Do an experiment on your unit- ask patients, other staff, and visitors to pick out the Nurse in a picture your unit supplies. The picture should have people dressed in white uniforms, people dressed in a solid color scrubs, and people dressed in colored scrubs with cutesy tops. It’s surprising what you find out about customers of your hospital that brings them a sense of compassion, knowledge, and expertise in personnel to handle medical situations, just by your attire. It may not be “politically appropriate” , but you are judged by your appearance. If you don’t think this is true, watch your reaction to personnel in an unfamiliar hospital. Who do you look to for medical help, and who did you actually find? I just see a common thread of patients and visitors not giving the nurse the proper respect they deserve- either at the bedside, teaching, or publication

  11. It’s funny because I’ve been a nurse since 1975 (well before colored scrub designations) and everyone wore white. Even the patient techs. Nobody ever had an issue with who was the nurse. It was up to us to make sure our patients knew who everyone was. Before I retired last year, I was required to wear scrubs that were red, black, pink, or a combination of thereof. I was told that if I wore hospital scrubs, I would be mistaken for a physician. I’m a male nurse and have dealt with this for more years than I care to count. I decided to wear totally pink scrubs (my Shock Trauma scrubs) and I was mistaken for a physician more often than when I wore hospital issued scrubs. My actual thought, in a great roundabout way, is hold professionals to a professional standard. Don’t tell me how to dress. I’m not in preschool anymore!

  12. White pants in nursing school. We were told what color underpants to wear. Fellow female classmate is out due to needing to do laundry, so decides to go “commando”. Yeah, that’s a nope.

  13. I notice alot of nurses wear skin tight uniforms, every time I see a nurse like this I wonder how they can bend over without busting out the seams. LOL

  14. I think this is a question that should go to the persons we serve. How do our patients feel about it? I’m sure we’ve all heard stories about the patient who asked about a personal, embarrassing issue and discovered they were speaking with the maintenance person. Some sort of easy identification via uniform type is probably in order.

  15. We have aides come in any color when they are to wear burgundy. Nurses blue pants white tops don’t mind this. But why coming in Ugg’s! Not here to work just play on phone ugh

  16. A facility in my area let nurses pick the color for their position and they chose Black! I guess for the slimming factor…but really…how depressing for the patients to see the nurses coming in prepared for their funeral! It’s sort of like calling the night shift the “graveyard shift”!

  17. Everyone has to wear Black . I’m in inpatient Hopice Nurse . I wish we had color coding again. The people that chose this didnt have pets either! We can wear whatever shoes we want though! Thank goodness for some color!

  18. It’s such a smart idea to have color-coded scrubs so you can easily identify who is who. I’m thinking of becoming a phlebotomist, so I’ll probably need scrubs as well. What if you can’t find the right color?

  19. 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.

  20. 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!

  21. 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

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

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

  25. 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!!

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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

  29. 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.

  30. 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

  31. 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.

  32. 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.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

White/Gold or Black/Blue? The Brain’s Dress Code

One dress - two perceptions. For some, it is black-blue, for others, it is white-gold. In a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, the...

30 Things I’ve Learned In Nursing School

Looking for a comprehensive guide that will get you through nursing school without a hitch? Well, we’re here to tell you that there is...

5 Sure Fire Ways to Get Fired

If you’ve read some of the horror stories on Nurses losing their license, you’ll be right to wonder what they were doing in Nursing...