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Which Color of Scrubs Are Commonly Worn By Nurses?

You may have wondered why medical professionals wear different color scrubs when walking the halls of healthcare facilities or when starting a new job at a hospital?

It is pure science when we say colors are infused with healing powers, and they can possibly influence patients’ response toward care and recovery. In fact, a nurse’s image may affect patient and visitor trust and satisfaction with nursing care. Many healthcare facilities use color-coding scrub programs to distinguish and identify clinical staff as well as non-clinical staff, such as transport, housekeeping and administration. The color choices at each healthcare facility are generally chosen by management.  The benefits of working at a facility where you can wear any color is the ability to choose a color that’s right for you based on personality, preference and the setting you will be working in.

There is no single color that nurses or other staff wear consistently across the healthcare industry.  The most common color worn by nurses is blue.

What Do Different Color Scrubs Mean?

Colors for medical scrubs can be broken down into three categories:  traditional, fashionable and print/pattern colors.  White was the original color of choice in operating rooms in the 1940’s, signifying cleanliness.  This soon changed as a result of white causing visual fatigue, headaches and eye strain for nursing and surgeons. Also, very difficult to get blood stains out of white scrubs. While the perception of color is subjective, some effects of color have universal meaning.

Traditional colors are more common among clinical staff like nursing and nursing assistants. These colors include:

  • Blue – most popular scrub color.  Evokes feelings of trust, dependability and eases anxiousness.  Makes people feel relaxed and calm. Lowering blood pressure. Shades of green to blue tend to neutralize the color of blood stains, causing less alarm among staff and patients.  Popular blue shades are navy blue caribbean and/or royal blue
  • White – typically worn by lab techs.  Signifies purity and cleanliness
  • Black- by wearing black scrubs, a feeling of formality and professionalism is exuded.  Looks smart and sharp. Also stands for authority, leadership and efficiency
  • Grey – this color signifies hard worker, diligence and composure.

Fashionable colors are less common among clinical staff like nursing.  You tend to see these colors worn more by auxiliary clinical staff: housekeeping, transport, pharmacy etc.

  • Brown- Considered to be casual and professional. Wearing brown signifies reliability and stability.
  • Burgundy- good alternative to wearing red. Universally flattering color
  • Purple/Pink – considered less formal.  Typically worn by staff that work with children
  • Yellow/Orange – Feelings of happiness
  • Red – Great color choice for awareness or teaching roles. Otherwise avoid due to relates to blood or danger.
  • Green- associated with peace, healing and tranquility. Psych known to lower a person’s blood pressure. Easy to hide bright red stains.  Helps to ease eye strains among surgeons.

Scrubs with prints are more common in pediatric or veterinary professions.  Often allowing you to display more of your personality.

Tennille Johnson July 31, 2023
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