Must I Wear the White Uniform as a Male Nurse?

Expectations of Life after School

Since my graduation from the nursing school, working in several private hospitals and health sectors for 3 years, I was never privileged to wear the white nurse uniform. Most times the policy in those places is to put on the inmate looking uniform (scrub) though with various colours depending on the institution of practice.

During my training in the nursing school, I had known nurses especially in this part of the world for the white uniform. Every nurse I saw then was putting on a white uniform irrespective of the gender except for nurses in the theatre (perioperative and anaesthetic nurses). Though I can’t really say I loved the white uniform, especially when I saw it on some of the old nurses who no longer pay attention to their looks. Unpleasant is how I feel but concluded that I have no choice than to wear it.

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A Different Picture after School

Situation met my surprise as I graduated and started working in hospitals with scrub uniform and at other times with mufti. I thought to myself, what exactly could have happened just these few years. All I now see in the white uniform were female nurses with some doctors putting on a white overall called lab coat. I took a deep breath, could I have been hallucinating or deluded while in school? Perhaps I saw nurses on uniform that wasn’t white but assumed it to be white because of my premonition about the white uniform. No! I rattled and assured myself, you are absolutely in your right senses, let’s see other samples before concluding. All these were my first year post graduation experience.

You Haven't Seen Anything

I got another job in a little hospital and asked the director what the dressing code was. He waved his hand with an assuring smile, ‘you just come dressing corporately’. Oh! Come corporately dressed? With all the dirty jobs I was trained to do! Then I was gradually giving up. I must have been wrong! Nurses don’t wear white. Towards the end of my conclusion, I thought again defensively, could it be that civilization had so soon overtaken me while on campus? Oh! I said no, that could not have been the case because we had enough practical hospital postings to different hospitals. In a bid to encourage myself I became inquisitive, I started asking my colleagues what they were wearing at their places of work. To my surprise, it became clear that I belonged to the majority. With this I was much relaxed; I already got all the encouragement I needed. This is the new nursing identity. I am a nurse and proud to be one.

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The Why Question Never Left me

Concern left me all through that year until my third year post graduation when I got another job appointment with a missionary teaching hospital. What I met there was something else, we were told as new nurses that we had to work in each nursing units every two weeks as a means of orientation. So you have to sow a new white nursing uniform or you wear the one you had before, the head of nursing unit said affirmatively. I protested, but I only wear scrubs, the woman just looked at me again and said well, you have to sow a new white uniform. Then I began to wonder, I really thought I had totally escaped all these uniform issue. Why must they wear white uniform? Why must I do the same? I thought to myself. Perhaps it’s because this is a mission hospital or better still this mission hospital was established by Florence Nightingale herself? Even after working several months in this settings am still thinking. Why white in the first place? Why the change to scrub? Why do some wear white and others don’t?

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