Last year, there were a few idiots with a bright idea to change our uniforms from a neat, navy and white to an untidy, dirty green that match the hospital floors. It is my impression that the company that made the uniforms cut a deal with someone up in management and gave them a chunk of the profits. They are known to cut such deals with principals of schools. They said that it was solely to keep nurses from using dirty uniforms as the dark, navy color easily disguised dirt from an unwashed uniform. So why not go back to the easily-obtainable full white uniforms instead? My theory is that it’s because the yucky green couldn’t be found at most material or uniform stores, it forced nurses to buy from the contracted company directly, sealing the deal for the people who were getting a cut in the profit.
The uniform company came around and took measurements of each nurse and then proceeded to sew the uniforms. I saved myself the trouble of getting my measurements taken; it obviously wouldn’t have made any difference anyway because when they eventually arrived, everyone looked like clowns in the new dirty green uniforms that didn’t fit anyone correctly. It was too short, too long, too narrow, oblong, baggy or tight. The nurses had to send the uniforms back, freaking out about the money they spent buying them. Many of them eventually went to a material store and found a close enough match to the horrid color and had them sewn. The material quickly ran out and became unobtainable again, forcing many nurses to go back to the factory that screwed up the measurements. It was all very pointless to me. I like my uniforms store-bought and convenient to pick up, so I waited until the last possible moment before I actually gave in to the madness.
I was probably the last nurse in the hospital to change over to the dirty green uniform, even though they threatened to lock us out of the hospital if we didn’t show up in the new uniform.
I like to filter orders from authority through a nice mesh of common sense, adding a generous scoop of misunderstanding and maybe even incipient deafness if the circumstances demand it. In this case, the decision to change uniforms was not unanimous, it was an unnecessary expense and effort having to go out to the factory to get them, or search the world for matching material and have someone sew them, when there were perfectly good stores dedicated to selling nurses uniforms available at good affordable prices. All-white uniforms are cheaply and abundantly available to forever ensure that no nurse comes to work with an unwashed uniform. Also, since the color is so hard to find, what happens if the company stops producing them and we can’t find the material anywhere? Do we go back to the old and friendly navy and white? But why think of the 'how to save time and money' for a nurse? Obviously it’s not the job of the manager to ensure that their staff is included in decisions that directly affect their lives in one way or another.
I resisted persistently for as long as I could. My unit manager is a fair person and very understanding and quite a cool chick really, but it was her job to make sure everyone followed orders and she had to ask me several times when I was going to change to the new uniform. I kept saying I would, but I didn’t and the assistant nursing manager (ANM) had to give me a talk. “I know you’re a good girl and you listen, but I don’t know what is making you disobey us about the uniform. Whatever it is, you must take it out of your head.” she said. I nodded, but wondered quietly to myself if there was any way to take common sense out of my head.
After several lectures from the ANM, I was defeated and outnumbered; I now sport the ugly green and feel deeply humiliated by how unflattering it looks on me. I don’t feel like a nurse when I am in it, it stains easily, it’s hard to iron, it’s too hot to wear in summer and it’s the first thing I am going to burn on my last day as a nurse.
Then again, it might keep docs more focused on their job! 🙂