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Nursing Professionalism and the “New Normal”

1940-Nursing-ClassGone are the days of the old nursing image: women clad in stiff, white dresses, white stockings, white shoes, and white caps. Welcome now the new professional appearance of nursing!

An article by PAH nurses was published in the February issue of the Journal of Nursing Administration, “The Professional Appearance of Registered Nurses – An Integrative Review of Peer-Refereed Studies.” The article – an integrated review of the literature which is one of the strongest types of evidence used to guide clinical practice – was authored by Linda A. Hatfield, PhD, NNP-BC, director, Research and Evidence-based Practice and assistant professor of Evidence-based Practice; Margaret Pearce, MSN, PhD-C, FNP-BC, Modern-nursing-uniform director of Magnet and Patient Outcomes; Mary Del Guidice, MSN, RN, CENP, chief nursing officer; Courtney Cassidy, MSN, RN, coordinator of Quality and Patient Safety; Jean Samoyan, BSN, RN; and Rosemary C. Polomano, PhD, RN, FAAN, associate professor of Pain Practice/Clinician Educator-HUP.

According to the authors, there is very little research available examining the impact of standardized uniform style and color for registered nurses. The authors appraised published peer-refereed studies on the effect of a standardized uniform style and color for RNs. The authors then identified seven published peer-refereed studies that met the inclusion criteria and discovered that while patients felt RNs appeared professional and were easily identifiable by a standard uniform style and color, they could not find evidence of a patient preferred style or color of uniform. Ultimately, the authors concluded that a standardized uniform style and color did indeed increase the perception of professionalism and recognition of RN among patients, and further research was warranted.

The research team recruited RNs and patients from PAH’s medical and surgical units. Their goal was to identify a standardized uniform style and color that reflected the professional status of registered nurses as perceived by both patients and RNs. The study, “Does A Standardized Uniform Style and Color Influence the Professional Status of Registered Nurses?” was presented by Margaret Pearce and Courtney Cassidy at the American Nurses Association Annual Quality Conference held in Atlanta in February 2013.

The study found that while the majority of patients felt it was important to be able to identify an RN, 43 percent could not do so. It was discovered that uniform color was the patients’ preferred method of RN identification with solid blue being the preferred color and white the next preferred color.

RNs also preferred one solid color uniform, specifically dark blue, solid scrubs.

The authors working with the professional image council found that the current evidence examining the effect of a standardized uniform style and color for RNs is not backed-up with rigorous, well-designed studies. Further research into the area is vital to support changes and trends in attire and culture differing from what was traditionally accepted by previous generations – and to support quality care and the future image of nursing.

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