Nurses no longer wear white patent leather shoes, an apron over a long skirt, and a little hat as their uniform. Today you’ll most likely see them in a pair of scrubs.

And while scrubs may not be as “snazzy” as the nurse uniforms of days past – the uniforms nurses wear today are more practical, and some would argue, more professional looking.

We’re going to look at why a nurse’s uniform and uniform policies are important for both a professional appearance and patient safety.


Why Are There Uniform Policies?


Uniform policies for nurses have evolved quite a bit over the years – especially since the adoption of the wearing of scrubs by nurses. But even with these changes, scrubs do what nurses’ uniforms are designed to:


Give A Professional Appearance

Maintaining a professional appearance isn’t just to ruin casual Fridays. Studies have shown that standard uniforms have a dramatic impact on patients’ perception of professionalism. It doesn’t only include a neat and professional-looking set of scrubs, but also hair and accessories.


Identify Nurses

Many hospitals have color-coded scrubs to differentiate between different hospital personnel from RNs and managerial staff to doctors and lab techs. A nurse’s uniform also makes them easily-identifiable to their patients.


Perform On The Job

Nurses need performance from their uniforms – some more than others. Good scrubs have blended fabrics that are stain and liquid-resistant while being stretchy to allow movement. Decent nursing shoes or clogs will protect your feet from spills and dropped objects and are easy to clean.


Increase Safety

Many uniform policies address items that could pose potential risks to both patients and nurses, like rings, long necklaces, long hair, earrings, fingernails, open-toed shoes, etc.

Just because you’ve got uniform rules, doesn’t mean you can’t look great in one of these best women’s scrubs.


What Are The Most Common Nurses Uniform Policies?


Uniform policies will vary, sometimes greatly, depending on where you’re working. What department you’re working in may also dictate your uniform policy.

One of the easiest ways to make sure your scrubs look professional is to make sure they are neat, here we have some tips on how to remove stains from scrubs.

Some facilities have a relaxed dress code allowing brightly-colored scrub prints and athletic shoes. Others may require their staff to wear only solid, muted colors, full leather upper shoes, and no jewelry.

If your employer’s uniform policy allows you to wear colors and prints, you’ve absolutely got to check out these best scrubs with colorful designs and awesome prints.

We took a random sample of uniform policies at nursing schools, hospitals, and clinics across the U.S. and compiled the most commonly cited ones.



  • Scrubs must be clean, in good condition and wrinkle-free
  • Scrubs must be a solid color, matching your designated color (job title)
  • Scrub colors must match
  • Nurses should wear only white scrubs
  • Scrubs must fit properly – not being too baggy or too tight
  • Undershirts may be worn under your scrubs in the following colors: white, gray, black or nude – patterns are not allowed
  • Scrub jackets must match the uniform color



  • Shoes must be made from solid material – no mesh. They must be closed-toe and back, non-slip and liquid-resistant or water-proof
  • Athletic and running-style shoes are permissible as long as the toes are covered


Hair, Fingernails

  • Hair must be clean, collar-length or worn up and back, clear of the face, and professional looking
  • Extreme hairstyles are prohibited (mohawks, intense, unnatural hair coloring)
  • Beards must be cut short, trimmed, and clean
  • Fingernails must be clean and short (less than a quarter-inch in length), no artificial nails or extensions of any type are acceptable
  • Nurses are not permitted to wear fingernail polish



  • No jewelry is acceptable due to infection risk
  • The following jewelry is acceptable: flat rings (such as a wedding band), small secured studs (for ears or face), necklaces must be short and tucked into your clothing
  • Neither perfume, scented body products nor cologne is acceptable due to allergic reactions or nausea it may cause
  • Makeup is permitted but should be kept at a minimum



  • When possible, tattoos must be covered
  • Good personal hygiene and general cleanliness will be maintained at all times
  • If the employee smokes tobacco, they’re prohibited from returning to work with a second-hand smoke smell on their clothing, hair, hands, or breath

Dress for success is an old cliche that’s still around because it’s true. For nurses, a professional-looking appearance sets the tone when you first meet a patient, projecting confidence and competence.


Besides, looking professional-feeling professional will help set your tone for the workday, making sure that you’re ready to bring a high level of professional care to all your patients with competence and compassion.

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