Each year kids all across the country proudly dress up as a nurse for Halloween. In the spirit of Halloween, we wanted to share with you a brief history of how this uniform has evolved over the years.
The nursing uniform has drastically changed over the last decade since its origination. One of the very first outfits for a nurse resembled a nun’s attire because nuns originally cared for the sick. Florence Nightingale influenced floor-length dresses with an apron and a bonnet when she integrated sanitary nursing practices in hospitals during the Crimean War of 1854.
In 1914 when World War II began, the uniform was a floor-length dress with high collars, puffy sleeves, a cape, an apron, and cuffs in order to avoid the resemblance of a servant and to establish the profession. The colors nurses wore determined rank; Nurses that wore black or dark colors were higher ranked than beginning nurses that wore light pastel colors. Additionally, nurses wore sleeves and cuffs for a few reasons: to keep them warm, to keep sleeves from dangling, and for protection from anything that could harm the skin. Aprons were also used to keep the dress clean.
World War II brought many changes for nurse uniforms. Nurses began to wear all white because white became the universal color for sterility.
Nurses wore shorter dresses, short sleeves, and wing collars to improve mobility and functionality during the war. Nurses caps were worn in order to keep the hair back from the nurse’s face. Masks and gloves became a universal necessity in order to prevent the spread of disease and illness.
In the 1960’s, feminist movements and the fashionable pant suit encouraged more practical and low-maintenance uniforms, known today as scrubs. Hospitals moved away from washing uniforms, as nurses were now responsible for their own attire. Anti-bacterial fabric technology was used in uniforms to keep nurses healthy. Nurses could say goodbye to unnecessary pantyhose and hats.
Today, nurses’ scrubs come in many different patterns and designs, especially for different holidays. Comfortability and function are valued in nursing scrubs. The future for nurses is wearable technology with functions including: fatigue sensors in clothing, eye technology for easy access to patient information, and personal assistants at nurses’ fingertips.