Saturday, October 22, 2011

Bravo, Beverly! Excellent Rebuttal to My Unisex Scrubs Post

How I do love a thoughtful comment!

My sister, a nurse, wrote about her perspective on wearing scrubs.  She makes some excellent points, and I thank her for her time, her patience, and her great charity.  Here's what she said:

Being a nurse, I know exactly what you mean. White dresses are very beautiful and professional-looking. I also think they're completely impractical for modern nursing, not to mention that most nurses don't have figures that would lend themselves well to dresses anymore. One coworker called it the "milk jug" look (scrubs hide a lot of figure flaws!). Uniforms aren't tailored articles of clothing. You buy them off the rack and you get what feels comfortable, because you're going to need that comfort working 12 hr shifts. They're doing much more physical nursing than years ago, too. Hospital staffing has changed and nurses do much of the work that "orderlies" used to do, pulling grown men up in the bed, emptying bedpans and catheters, cleaning up any variety of body fluids off the floor. It is a very physical job. And no matter what position I get in, I KNOW I'm covered.

I'm writing this after a long shift, still wearing my navy scrubs with snap front shirt, elastic waist pants, and Saucony running shoes. No hose, no hat, no stiff white oxfords.

Now if all I had to do was carry around a tray of pills all day, I might consider a dress :D.

I replied:

Ha, Beverly! I wonder how Mother Teresa, Florence Nightingale, and Clara Barton managed? :D

She answered:

Nursing can and is done every day in skirts. For most - and certainly for me - it seems easier in pants. That's my observation. No statistical analysis was done :).

"Scrubs" is a term used for most loose-fitting nursing/health care uniforms. They can be quite unflattering and make the wearer appear slovenly, especially if their demeanor is slovenly. There are scrub skirts, and I know older nurses who wear them. I know one nurse who's at the end of her career, is still trim and wears the whole dress/hose/nursing shoe outfit, sans hat. She looks quite good in it. But it has more to do with who she IS, or a combination of her dress and demeanor, that make her stand out as "nurse" in the old-fashioned sense you refer to in your post (and I don't mean that negatively, either). There are other nurses I know who wear skirts, but lack that "put together" look that the white dress seems to have. They don't look any less frumpy than the ones in scrubs.

There are other alternatives.

I'm thinking of the 30+ yr nursing veteran that trained me, MISS Chris, a beautiful African-American nurse who wears whites: exquisitely pressed pants that are the perfect length, appropriate undergarments (appropriate because you never see them), white jackets that are trim but not tight, and have subtle flourishes of lace or details that speak of care in dress. She wears white or pastel knit tops. Every hair of her head is in place, her lipstick is perfect, tasteful earrings worn. She is immaculate in her appearance, and utterly feminine. When she walks into the room, you know EXACTLY who she is and that you will be taken care of by the best.

I once asked her where she bought her "scrubs". She cast a stern look at me and said crisply, "I buy my UNIFORMS at ___________." To her way of thinking, there was a gulf between the shapeless scrubs most nurses wore and HER choice of dress. I will never forget that lesson.

I understand your preference for skirts and respect it. My feeling is that the line between feminine or not, professional or not, is not so much drawn between skirts and pants, but between those who care to dress and act the part of a lady and those who do not. Sadly, ladies like Miss Chris, who embody that wonderful meld of attractive attire and decorum, are vanishing. The profession is the poorer for it.

Thanks again, Beverly.  Now if I could just interview Miss Chris!


Fotofule said...

It is you who are the charitable one, Miss Wen, as always :). Thanks for being so tolerant when I spout off.

When I wrote my original comment, I didn't even think about Miss Chris and her great example. I wish you could meet (and interview) her. She's a great mix of class and sass, and you two would get along famously!

Wendy Haught said...

Oh, foot! I thought you made a great contribution to the discussion. You weren't spouting off. You spoke from your experience. It was great! Why don't you interview, or at least photograph, Miss Chris and do a guest post for me? Pwease.

Fotofule said...

I would be glad to. You know, if I'm not mistaken, Miss Chris either did clinicals or worked in the basement of one of Birmingham's original hospitals. That where the "colored" ward was. I hope I'm not confusing her with one of my nursing instructors, also an African-American. Anyway, one of them explained how HER instructors would inspect the students each morning before they were allowed on the ward, making sure their uniforms were clean, pressed, and in good repair. It sounded very much like a military inspection. :)