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Nursing Scrubs Buying Guide: What to Look For

Nursing attire has come a long way since the dark gowns of Florence Nightingale and the starched white dresses of the 1950s. You can purchase nursing scrubs in just about any color, fit and style. But with all these options comes added pressure. What standout features are most important to you? This nursing scrubs buying guide helps you narrow down the choices while providing handy style tips and scrubs-care suggestions.

Hospital Scrub Requirements

While enjoying your travel nursing career, you may work at a number of hospitals, each with rules governing attire. If you've just started your job search, browse through our listings of travel nursing opportunities to get started on your next career move.

Many hospitals assign color-coded uniforms to their staff based upon job duties. For example, RNs may wear blue while technicians sport green and therapists are in burgundy. Currently, blue seems to be the most commonly selected color for RNs, however, it's not a guarantee, and there are many shades of blue used as well. Once you've questioned your recruiter on job expectations, it's time to start looking for scrubs.

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Best Places To Find Scrubs

In the beginning, it's often easier to visit a uniform shop where you can try on various fits and explore styles. Do a quick Google search of your new travel hometown. Visiting an actual store also helps you discover more about the area. Most stores are willing to special order if you need a certain item, and their salespeople can even offer suggestions on fit and style.

Once you've determined your go-to selections, online stores are a great way to stock up on extra pieces. You might even want to browse your favorite online sites every quarter, searching for deals on discontinued styles. Many will email you specials, including updates on your favorite lines and notifications of new merchandise. Most online stores offer 30-day refunds on unworn merchandise, but you'll most likely lose out on return postage. If you need special sizing on nursing scrubs — think petite, plus or extra tall — online stores usually have a greater selection of special sizing.

Aim First For Comfort

Yes, you want to look great, but in nursing, it's all about comfort. Your job entails standing, sitting, bending, reaching and lifting, not to mention long shifts. There's great variability in sizes and fit of nursing scrubs. From loose-fitting cotton drawstring pants to contoured fit trousers with a hint of stretch to form-fitting yoga-style pants, the range is wide. Do you want short sleeves or long sleeves? Then there's the pocket question, including the number of and locations.

There are advantages and disadvantages to all of the above choices. Make a personal nursing scrubs buying guide by listing pros and cons while thinking of your job duties to help narrow down decisions. Obviously, budget will also play an important role in your scrub choice; some styles are less expensive than others. You'll also have to decide how many pairs of scrubs you'll need, which will depend on your shift times and washing schedule.

Microbial Scrubs

Many companies are offering nursing scrubs designed to inhibit the growth of pathogens. Although they're gaining in popularity, research is limited on their effectiveness, and they're costlier. In fact, one study of antimicrobial scrubs found no difference in the overgrowth of bacteria between regular scrubs and the antimicrobial models.

Care Tips For Long-Lasting Scrubs

After spending some of your precious paycheck on scrubs, you're going to want to keep them in good condition, which is difficult considering how often and how thoroughly they need to be washed.

Some hospitals require that scrubs remain at the hospital for cleaning. This is common in departments like obstetrics and surgery. However, it's usual for nurses in the United States to wear their scrubs home. There has been much research done on the likelihood of nurses infecting the general public with contaminated scrubs. While the risk is very small, statistics do show that nursing uniforms do carry bacteria and that the amount and types of pathogens can be associated with specific care activities. Therefore, it's recommended you go straight home after work and remove your scrubs, keeping them separate from other clothing.

To remove contaminants, wash your scrubs separately from your regular clothing and use the dryer, preferably on high heat. Many of the online scrub shopping sites include washing and drying tips, so take advantage of their expertise. Always test a small area of your scrubs first before washing a whole load and heed the recommendations of your washer as well.

Now that you've got the details on where and how to choose your nursing scrubs, it's time to get shopping.


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