Does Your Appearance in a Nursing Uniform Matter?

By Janet Izzo on Thu, Nov 14, 2013

From: NurseTogether Website (Source:

Since we live busy lives, I think we can all agree that we need to “keep it simple” when it comes to our nursing uniform. In the business world, the term “dress for success” is a given. In our world, we hear “Nurses are angels in comfort shoes.” Sometimes I fear we take it a step too far when it comes to comfort.

Have we become too relaxed in our appearance these days? Are our nursing scrubs just that…old scrubs? Tennis shoes have also replaced those old, iconic, and impractical white nurse’s shoes. But are they tattered, worn, and heaven forbid, dingy? No nurses caps adorn our curls (or blow outs) these days, but we know and understand that it wasn’t the cap that made the nurse. It was the nurse under the cap that was important.

Looks Do Matter

Studies have shown that our patients make a judgment call about us within sixty seconds of meeting us. In those few moments, they decide whether or not we are a good nurse or not! What? Do you mean it matters what we look like? Don’t patients know the pressure we’re under? Don’t they understand the responsibilities we carry as health professionals? Our physical appearance should not be so important, but unfortunately, it is.

We know that looks are a poor way to judge one’s nursing skills, but that is exactly how our patients determine our worth, shocking as it may be. Those studies have also shown that the first thing our patients look at is our smile…or lack of one. The second thing they seem to notice is our hair, then our nursing uniform, and then shoes. Wow! Truth hurts.

Professional Appearance

As much as we would like to think that looks don’t matter, we are wrong. They do matter. And because we are professional nurses, we take pride (yes, pride) in our appearance. It tells the world that we are indeed professionals. We care about our patients and our interaction with them. And last but not least, we help build a positive self-esteem, whether among ourselves or our patients. General appearance and hygiene are indicators of that.

It goes without saying, “We’d all be worse without a nurse.” Let’s just not leave any doubts about it among the general public. Let us remember that while we may wear comfort shoes these days, we must continue to portray ourselves as the health professionals that we are. And even if the white nursing uniform of yore is passé, getting new scrubs can’t hurt!

About the Author: With the release of her book, Hotel Hennepin, Janet Izzo is becoming a popular and in demand speaker for nursing students in colleges and universities. Her focus is to educate, inspire and entertain. She is passionate about the nursing profession and her enthusiasm is obvious.


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