Nursing Uniform Code Rules Essay Assignment Paper

Nursing Uniform Code Rules Essay Assignment Paper

Nursing Uniform Code Rules Essay Assignment Paper

Dress codes are standard practice in many professions. In nursing, however, how nurses dress can influence patient care and satisfaction. Since insurance reimbursements now rely heavily on quality-of-care metrics, dress codes matter more than ever. Nursing administrators are often responsible for determining appropriate dress codes for their staff, so students completing a Master of Science in Nursing Administration (MSN) program can expect to examine this topic.Nursing Uniform Code Rules Essay

History of The Dress Code

One of the most important reasons for a dress code is to establish professionalism. Nurses must represent their employers in a positive light — their appearance is an important part of this responsibility. In the past, dress codes for nurses were strict and often included a uniform skirt, nursing cap, hose and plain shoes — typically white.

Uniformity gave way to individuality over the years as scrubs, in a variety of patterns and colors, replaced traditional attire. Colorful sneakers and clogs replaced white nursing shoes and hose, and nurses could finally express themselves a bit more.

Patient Perception

In 2014, Geisinger Medical Center in Pennsylvania surveyed patients about nursing attire. Fifty-seven percent of patients felt it was challenging to distinguish licensed nurses from licensed practical nurses or nursing assistants. Seventy-four percent of respondents believed that nurses wearing identical uniforms communicated more professionalism. Fifty-nine percent of patients preferred solid-color scrubs — 95 percent ranked navy as the most professional.

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Other studies support these results. When asked to rate the professionalism of a nurse based solely on a series of pictures, respondents preferred a standard uniform style and color. Further research indicates that patients view nurses wearing solid-colored scrubs as more skilled than those wearing patterns.Nursing Uniform Code Rules Essay

Beyond Scrubs

Nursing dress codes go beyond scrubs and shoes. Piercings, tattoos and jewelry can be distracting for patients. Even personal preferences like hair, makeup and perfume can affect how patients regard nurses and the quality of care they receive. For example, when shown images of a nurse with visible tattoos or piercings, patients rated the nurse on the lowest end of the scale in terms of knowledge, aptitude and compassion — regardless of the nurse’s gender. Patient perceptions like these can make it difficult for nurses to establish trust with their patients.

In response, many employers have revised their dress codes to include additional guidelines regarding body art and uniforms. Some have designated specific scrubs for licensed nurses, based on the nurses specialties. Geisinger Medical Center now requires licensed nurses to wear gray and white scrubs bearing the facility’s logo and “registered nurse.”

Dress Codes Matter

While something as simple as a dress code may seem trivial, it can have a significant effect on how patients perceive the quality of care. Misconceptions can even hinder nurses ability to establish trust with their patients. A standardized nursing dress code can improve nurse-patient interactions and increase patient satisfaction.

The process first began in 2014. Nurse leaders started investigating patients’ claims that it was difficult to identify nurses based on their appearance alone. At the time, there was no standard dress code for any type of nurses at the hospital, whether they were RNs, licensed practical nurses (LPNs) or nursing assistants (NAs).

Some patients indicated that, rather than look as if they were ready to care for patients, some nursing staff looked like they were “ready for the gym” or “at the club.” Outfits ranged from T-shirts and fleece jackets to hooded sweatshirts and leggings.

Because there was no consistency, nurse leaders worried staff weren’t projecting a professional image to patients. And even if a nurse was dressed as expected, it was hard to distinguish whether the person was an RN, LPN or NA.

So a multi-year process began where nursing leaders got input from both nursing staff and patients about the changes they’d like to see with nurser attire and what kinds of outfits looked the most professional in a hospital environment.Nursing Uniform Code Rules Essay

After surveying patients, which included showing them photographs of various types of attire, the hospital found that most patients felt nurses looked professional when they all wore the same uniform, and the uniform that nearly all participants thought was the most professional was solid navy scrubs.

Patients surveyed at Geisinger weren’t fans of nursing staff wearing T-shirts with sayings and pictures on them. They also didn’t find layered tops professional – or colorful tie-dye T-shirts with scrub pants. Patients even had mixed reviews about holiday-themed scrubs, with a slight majority saying they weren’t professional nursing attire.Nursing Uniform Code Rules Essay

New dress code & uniform

With this input, along with feedback from nursing staff, Geisinger started updating its dress code policy.

Across all of the health system’s facilities, nursing leaders found 70 dress codes, which explained the significant variations among different types of nurses. To add to the confusion, not only were nurses dressed differently, but staff in other departments had different standards as well.

So Geisinger created a dress code policy that would apply to all departments. It covered general appearance for all staff, including jewelry and tattoos (which could be exposed as long as they weren’t inappropriate). And it put more specific guidance in place for what RNs should wear.

Now, RNs at Geisinger must wear gray and white scrubs embroidered with the hospital’s logo and the words “Registered Nurse.” Nurses can optionally have their certification initials embroidered on the left sleeve.

The health system plans to issue more guidance about whether they’ll allow more wiggle room for RNs in specific specialties – particularly pediatrics and maternal health – or for certain holiday-themed attire.

Geisinger is currently monitoring its changes to the RN dress code, and it plans to talk with nurses to see how the uniforms have impacted their work life. It’s hoping uniforms will foster a stronger sense of professionalism in nurses that’ll translate into better care for patients.Nursing Uniform Code Rules Essay

Perception is reality

Past research has shown that dress codes make a difference with patients’ perception of other types of providers. Patients feel more satisfied with the care they receive from doctors if they wear white coats during rounds, rather than just scrubs or other clothing. They also see white coats as more professional.

While strict dress codes have gone by the wayside at many facilities, it could be time to hold staff to more consistent standards, especially as patients perceptions start playing a bigger role in reimbursement through patient satisfaction surveys.

First impressions transmit powerful messages, even though it’s commonly understood that we should base our impressions on what we know about someone, not how someone looks. However, most people form an opinion about another person on the first meeting, and this impression is based on the person’s appearance. A well-dressed nurse, neatly scrubbed nurse tends to give the impression of strength, confidence and reliability while a sloppily attired nurse gives the opposite impression.

The first impression should be positive and should communicate the message that the nurse respects herself or himself. The white uniform that was the staple nursing dress for centuries has given way to informal scrub sets that don’t give the same impression of crisp professionalism. Seeing a nurse dressed in neatly pressed white scrubs or a white dress makes a patient feel confident about the care he or she is about to receive.

Looks Are Important – So Are Patients

As a health care worker, how a nurse looks and what he or she wears is important. From a hygiene and infection control perspective, what he or she wears is even more important. The scrub set is the recommended wear for nurses in the United States at present.

However, even more important than public impression is the impression they make on patients and their visitors. For example, we see doctors and nurses walking about in hospital wards and in public areas dressed in scrub sets, or parts of scrub sets. It’s hard to make out who’s a doctor, who’s a physiotherapist, who’s the housekeeping member and who’s the plastic surgeon. Everyone’s wearing scrub sets of different colors and in many cases, printed, embroidered, painted and fashion sets.Nursing Uniform Code Rules Essay

Nurses have to work directly with patients; they have to respond to nurse calls and take responsibility for complete patient care. Given that, the present chaotic dress code causes much confusion among patients and their visitors, as they are not able to identify nursing staff from other staff.

Should Nurses Follow A Standard Dress Code?

Some hospitals enforce dress codes for their registered nurses, while other health care facilities allow them to wear any design or color scrubs, as long as hygiene is maintained and their identification badges are visible. Some hospitals also require nurses to wear white nursing shoes to prevent accidental tripping or losing of balance.

A nurse is seen as a representative of a very noble profession and therefore the clothes she wears at work are expected to represent the seriousness of her call. When people think of nurses, they envision well-mannered, compassionate people in white respectable in appearance, caring for patients tenderly. This image has survived for centuries and even today, this is the standard image for a nurse. As such, the strong public opinion is that nurses have an ethical obligation to wear proper attire that befits their vocation. If not white uniforms, then they should follow a strict dress code that stands for the utmost professionalism and cleanliness.

Nursing decorum pertains not only to their behavior but also to their appearance. A proper uniform commands respect for professional nurses. It’s also preferred that nurses working in specialty areas such as OR, RR, OB/GYN, nursery, ICU and so on should wear hygiene smocks on top of their uniforms or surgical scrubs.Nursing Uniform Code Rules Essay

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