Advantages of wearing White Medical Uniform

Advantages of wearing White Medical Uniform

What does one think about as it relates to those brave nurses caring for patients during the last two world wars? For many, the idea of these heroic, mostly women, wearing clean crisp white uniforms in hospitals and in the battlefields of war may come to mind.  The classical white “nurses’ uniform” at the time, consciously or subconsciously represented purity, innocence, cleanliness, honesty and faith. Throughout the 50’s and 60’s white continued to be the primary uniform colour used by these medical professionals because it looked clean, sanitary and professional, hence exuding the confidence that these professionals were clearly the ones responsible for taking care of business as it related to patient care.

Several decades after WWII, white uniforms or scrubs continued to be the first choice by medical professionals for a plethora of reasons However an evolution of medical apparel for professionals have undergone a transformation in all aspects of design, fabric technology, and, you guessed it, colour as more and more options have been made available to medical professionals around the world. With more options becoming available, an overall decline in “white uniforms” as a total percentage of medical uniforms worn has somewhat diminished and have been replaced with a rainbow of available colours.

For all intent and purposes, we know that there are several brands, styles and fits in the medical healthcare apparel industry. The intent of this article is to determine if “white scrubs” will make a comeback as there are many advantages for the white scrub piece and where only a select few are brave enough to overcome the most glaring fear of the white scrub.    

As expected, the number one reason against white scrubs or any article of clothing in white for that matter has to do with the fact that it is very difficult to immediately deal with a stain or blemish that may arise from any array of activity.  As the author of this article, I cannot count the number of times that I had the splatter of pasta sauce land on my nice clean crisp white dress shirt, especially at weddings, where the tie was not wide enough to take the splash! The result, was a detail orientated wife letting me know of the splatter and a trip to the bathroom with paper towels and club soda in hand. 

When it comes to the attire worn by medical professionals, details count in fit, form and function as comfort and ease of movement is paramount to the success of their day as seemingly small details can have a significant impact, for example wearing a non-breathable top in a warm environment leading to excessive sweating and discomfort throughout the day. Among the numerous colour options available, white medical uniforms or scrubs stand out for numerous reasons, each contributing to the overall efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare delivery.

The next section will provide an overview of the benefits of white scrubs that will need to be evaluated in contrast to the one major challenge against them and where the reader or wearer of scrubs will ultimately have to determine if they are the select few that in fact are brave enough to wear white! 

What are the many benefits of wearing scrubs in this classic, timeless colour (in a non-technical sense) of white? I have come up with a few benefits on my own but a quick google search has come up with a few other benefits of white scrubs for review and my own personal reflection into the arguments presented. To be clear and transparent, some of the material presented below have been paraphrased from various articles found on google. 

  1. Improved Visibility of Stains: So, in a classic salesman style, let’s take the number one reason against white and put it right at the top of the list of positives from the very start to demonstrate to our reader the benefit, depending on how it is looked at. The reader here can then make their own evaluation of the argument. Some may see the argument, some may call BS and get a chuckle, but regardless the argument is in the eye of the reader. One of the foremost advantages of wearing white medical uniforms or scrubs is that it provides heightened visibility of stains. Maybe there is a case where noticing stains is a good thing?  Let’s have some fun with this… In the medical profession, where cleanliness is paramount, the ability to promptly identify and address any spills or contaminants is crucial. White fabric serves as a stark canvas, making even the slightest blemish immediately noticeable. This facilitates swift action to maintain a hygienic environment and uphold professional standards. Seems like a lot of pressure to make sure you don’t get a stain or dirty, but it all depends how you look at it.
  2. Symbolism of Cleanliness and Professionalism: White has long been synonymous with purity and cleanliness. In the medical field, where patient trust and confidence are paramount, the visual cue of white uniforms conveys a sense of sterility and professionalism. Patients often associate the pristine appearance of white attire with the expertise and dedication of healthcare providers, instilling a sense of reassurance and trust. I can see this one as a benefit, like it or not, as white does in fact have this aura of said cleanliness (obvious) and professionalism, a bit more psychological.
  3. Heat Reflection: Healthcare professionals often find themselves working in a variety of environments. White scrubs offer a practical solution by reflecting a significant portion of sunlight and heat, if outdoors. This not only helps in maintaining a more comfortable body temperature during prolonged shifts but also minimizes the risk of heat-related discomfort or exhaustion. I can see this ringing true for anyone working outdoors as most know that darker colours absorb heat while white reflects light and heat. If you are a medical professional that is not in an air conditioned building, and work in a sunny location, white is the way to go!
  4. Early Detection of Fabric Discoloration: While every fabric is prone to discoloration over time, white scrubs provide a clear indication of wear and tear. Any fading or yellowing of the fabric becomes readily apparent, serving as a visual cue for timely replacement. This proactive approach ensures that healthcare professionals maintain a polished appearance, while also adhering to hygiene standards. In my opinion this can be a decent argument, however I would say that any high-quality medical uniform made from high quality fabrics will maintain appearances and fit over time, white not being an exception. 
  5. Enhanced Visibility during Procedures: In the intricate realm of medical procedures and examinations, visibility is paramount. White scrubs, with their reflective properties, contribute to improved visibility under various lighting conditions. Whether in the operating room or conducting routine examinations, the enhanced contrast provided by white attire facilitates better visualization, ultimately leading to more accurate diagnoses and procedures. I guess this statement has some validity, but would seem more fitting where advanced lighting may not be available, none the less, a point.
  6. Versatility in Pairing with Other Colors: The neutrality of white allows for seamless coordination with a variety of any other colors and accessories. This in my opinion is the most genuine argument as white is a great colour to wear as it goes with everything.  White is timeless, elegant, and is a staple for any wardrobe. I would say that depending on the healthcare workers role, ie) if they are not prone to environments where the likelihood of staining or “getting dirty” are minimal and if it is looks that they are going for, then white is a great choice.
  7. Effective Cleaning with Chlorine Bleach: Lastly, white scrubs are not just visually appealing but also practical in terms of maintenance. The use of chlorine bleach, a powerful disinfectant commonly employed in healthcare settings, ensures thorough cleaning and stain removal. This rigorous cleaning regimen helps mitigate the risk of cross-contamination and ensures that medical uniforms uphold the highest standards of hygiene. I would concur with this as bleach is not recommended for any garments of colour, but white is many times the exception. One must however read the garments tag to make sure bleach is safe as different fabrics have different bleach resistant properties.

In conclusion, the choice to wear white medical uniforms is one of personal taste that requires some consideration of the environment where they will be worn. White scrubs are definitely an aesthetic option that throughout history has been equated to a commitment of professionalism, hygiene, and patient care. With today’s evolving fashions and technologies built into scrubs, white is definitely making a comeback as far as a colour option, merely and mainly for aesthetic purposes.

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