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Why Do Doctors Nurses Wear Scrubs? Benefits of Wearing Scrubs

Why Do Doctors Nurses Wear Scrubs? Benefits of Wearing Scrubs


Doctors and nurses are often on their feet for many hours in one day. A surgeon might have to stand for hours at a time, taking part in a meticulous surgery, and not have a chance to sit and relax. Nurses might only have moments to sit and put their feet up before running to the next patient to check vitals or administer medications. A doctor might only have a half-hour to take a quick nap before a consultation with the next patient. Medical professionals are always on the go, and that’s why they need something comfortable to wear.

Why do doctors wear scrubs? Comfort isn’t the only reason!

The History of Wearing Scrubs

In the early to mid-19th century, surgery wasn’t looked at as a saving grace for most medical situations. There was a negative stigma surrounding surgeons, as they lost many of their patients. Perhaps the reason for this was the fact medical professionals did not place hygiene at the top of the priority list. Operating rooms were not sterilized, surgeons only wore aprons to block their own clothes from blood spatter and surgical tools were used for patient after patient.

In the 1860s, Dr. Joseph Lister developed a theory for these failed surgeries. It included germs being harbored and spread on unsanitary instruments, clothes, operating tables and hands. While it took some time to catch on with American doctors, this germ theory eventually took off, creating patterns and practices that are widely used and even required today.

One of those practices is “scrubbing in,” or the act of scrubbing oneself clean before entering the operating room. Before a doctor or nurse scrubs in, he or she should put on scrubs, which were previously cheaply-made and disposable. Scrubs have come a long way since then, and there are a lot of benefits of wearing scrubs that you might not realize.

Wearing Scrubs for Purposes of Identification

When you walk into a medical professional’s office, you know where you are by how everyone is dressed. The doctors might be in one color of scrubs, and the nurses might be in another color. Wearing scrubs is a way for doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to identify themselves as individuals who can help.

If you walk into an office and see someone wearing scrubs, you know you can go to them for medical questions or assistance. You may also notice the receptionist is dressed in street clothes because he or she doesn’t have any medical training, and that’s an indication he or she wouldn’t be able to help you medically.

Scrubs also help to identify different departments or levels of experience. Within one hospital, you’ll typically find a lot of different areas of expertise. Perhaps in the maternity ward, nurses wear pink scrubs, while in the trauma center, they wear dark green. Maybe the physicians wear dark blue scrubs, while the interns or residents wear light blue.

Pediatric doctors might wear scrubs with fun designs to help their young patients relax. With the proper scrub color and an identification badge, it’s generally easier to know who you’re dealing with when you walk into a medical building.

Creating a Uniform Look with Scrubs

Scrubs may seem to indicate a more relaxed look, but when everyone in the office is wearing the same brand and style, it takes the comfortable scrub and turns it into a uniform. Patients want to know they’re working with professionals. If doctors and nurses showed up to work in whatever they wanted, a patient might not trust them to be actual professionals. When everyone works together to create a uniform and tidy look, a patient may place more trust in them, losing any bias that might come from seeing the professionals in street clothes.

Encouraging a Sanitary Environment by Wearing Scrubs

You might wonder, “Why do doctors and nurses wear scrubs if they’re just going to get filthy?” You might be referring to surgery or other practices that get blood and other bodily fluids on the doctor’s or nurse’s clothing. That’s exactly why scrubs are worn! Unlike other clothing a nurse or doctor might wear outside of a medical setting, scrubs can be cleaned with the strong cleaning products and detergents required to keep the environment sanitary, and the scrubs won’t be negatively affected.

It’s easy for a nurse or doctor to get his or her scrubs on and off. When they are soiled from one patient, a nurse can walk into the locker room to change into new scrubs in a matter of minutes. Between surgeries or other procedures, a surgeon or doctor can quickly scrub out and scrub in without taking much time at all. This keeps the flow of the workplace running smoothly, as well as keeping the environment sanitary for patients and medical professionals.

Fostering Convenience with Scrub Use

Doctors and nurses have busy lives. Aside from their personal lives and families, they have many other individuals they care for on a regular basis. Anything they can do to simplify and foster convenience is just one step toward making their lives easier. Using scrubs at work is one way to foster convenience in many forms. For one thing, there are typically many pockets in scrubs, which gives medical professionals a place to carry tools they use on a regular basis.

You can see how scrubs are not made to create a fashion statement, though more and more these days, they do come in fun designs that encourage individuality within a doctor’s office. As a vital item for medical professionals, scrubs are convenient, identifiable, encourage sanitization and create a uniform look. A quality pair can help to position you for an efficient work shift!  Discover the scrubs made to move with you but also hold their shape with men’s and women’s scrubs from Body Intelligence. 

Have some additional benefits or interesting historical facts? Share them with us in the comments!