How Your Image As A Nurse Affects Your Care

Showing up for work in clean, pressed scrubs everyday can seem pointless when you know you’re likely to leave with wrinkles and at least one stain. And really, does a nurse’s appearance matter? You come to work to care for patients, not a fashion show, right? Well, sort of.

It can be less than motivating to dress to impress when you wear a uniform, but how you present yourself to management and patients leaves an impression about how you care for people, not just your ability (and willingness) to use an iron and hairbrush. There are several reasons your image is about more than scrubs.

Organizational Policies

Daily appearance falls under regulations set by the organization for which you work. Nurse reviews will cover your outward appearance and can affect your overall performance score, which is documented by your employer. Your appearance speaks to the reputation of the organization, so when you look disheveled on a regular basis, the hospital or clinic may soon fall under the perception that care is also sloppy.

Cleanliness Questioned

It’s not unreasonable for management or your patients to assume that if your uniform constantly appears soiled, that you’re less than careful about cleanliness, which causes concern for sterilization needed in your work environment. If you’re not willing to wash your scrubs, or replace worn ones as needed, it’s easy to assume you wouldn’t take extra precaution to regularly wash your hands or keep medical equipment clean.

Reputation Among Peers

Even if your organization is slack on dress code policies, an unkempt appearance will affect how your coworkers view your ability to perform a job (warranted or not – remember, we’re talking about perception). The trust and partnership of your peers is important, not just for a cohesive work environment, but also for your unit to effectively care for patients without resistance in handing off responsibilities between shifts.

How To Present A Good Image As A Nurse

Even if you’re confident that your appearance is up to par with management expectations, it’s worth reviewing other ways your image can be affected. Punctuality, gossiping, and bullying can play a large role in how your unit views your work ethic. Check out our tips to make sure your image – physical appearance and attitude – is welcoming and professional.

  • Maintain personal hygiene (body and scrubs)
  • Review regulations about makeup and hair to stay in line with professional expectations
  • Avoid strong perfumes or colognes
  • Don’t merge personal relationships with work during your shift
  • Accept constructive feedback from management as an opportunity to grow
  • Be punctual and prepared for each shift

Present yourself with confidence. When you are sure of your ability to care for patients and work professionally with your coworkers, your image as a nurse improves and you gain the respect of those around you.

Whether your goal is to enter into a nurse leadership role, or you’re mapping your road to retirement, your appearance as a nurse matters to those for whom you care and work.