The specifics of your uniform will vary greatly depending on the institution which you choose to work, as some places will prefer to have all LPN uniforms look exactly the same, while others do not mind a bit of variation. It is therefore greatly important that you find out all the details before purchasing anything, as some of the medical equipment could be rather pricey, and you wouldn’t want to be burdened with negotiating returns.
Your duties will see you preparing and administering injections, dressing wounds, collecting samples, cleaning and monitoring medical equipment, feeding, dressing, and moving patients; so your uniform will have to make provision for this.
The Basics Of LPN Uniforms – Scrubs
Scrubs are the most likely option for most medical staff. Some hospitals prefer to color code their nursing staff, so as an LPN you may be required to wear just one specific color. The purpose for this would be to make you easily identifiable within your specific profession, by visitors, patients, and your fellow co-workers. If you are given a choice, you will find that you can choose between either patterned nursing uniforms, or simply solid colors.
If you choose solid colors it is best to match both your shirt and pants; you don’t want to wear clashing colors as you are expected to look neat and professional. However, if you do want to mix and match, just make sure that the colors you choose are of a similar hue, such as green and blue together. If you do prefer to brighten up your uniform with patterns, do so with a print shirt and pants that are a singular solid color. Choose a print that will match with a wide array of colors, so that you can co-ordinate it with quite a few different pants. You want to look professional and make it easy for yourself; remember that you are going to be working long shifts and won’t want to waste time with clothing hassles.
You could probably get away with buying three sets of scrubs to start with, just make sure that you do have enough, as it is absolutely essential that you wear a fresh clean uniform at all times. Not only must you appear professional, neat and tidy, you need to be physically clean in a hospital environment. So choose scrubs that are made of a durable fabric which will survive all the washes. There are designer scrubs out there which are made of stain-resistant materials, but these are more expensive.
To clean your uniform thoroughly:
- Rinse with cold water to remove any built up substances (these could range from body fluids to food to caustic chemicals).
- Wash in your washing machine on a hot water wash; the heat should kill most of the bacteria.
- Along with your regular laundry detergent, pour in half a cup of white vinegar; this acts as an added cleaning agent and will also aide in deodorizing your clothing.
- After washing, tumble dry and iron; these extra sources of heat will help eradicate any bacteria that may be left over.
Always read the label for washing instructions before washing your uniform; your schedule may become hectic and dealing with laundry malfunctions is not something that you should have to encounter or waste time worrying about.
Where To Buy The Uniform
As with most things today, you can either purchase your clothing online or in a retail store. If you are lucky your workplace may provide them, but do not rely on that possibility.
Some of the popular and well-known brands include, but are not limited to:
- Grey’s Anatomy
- Iguana Med
- White Swan
It may seem tempting to simply buy the cheapest if your budget is not a large one, but remember that your everyday duties will take their toll on your uniform, so you need to look for quality as well. These online stores and catalogs often have sales, so if you keep a bit of money aside and keep your eye out for these sales, you can buy a larger quantity of LPN uniforms at discounted rates.
If you are planning on making your purchases online, be weary that due to the broad nature of the internet, it is very easy for con artists to create websites and con you out of your money. Where possible, talk to other LPNs to find out which site they used and how successful it was. If you are unsure, look out for the following factors:
- Is the site secure?
- Is there an option to pay via PayPal? PayPal is quickly becoming the preferred method of payment, and it is a very secure option. PayPal will act as a middleman between the buyer and the seller, and if you do not receive what you paid for, you can open a dispute on their site; this means that they will then hold on to the funds until the dispute is settled. So your risks are considerably lower.
- Do they have a return policy? Most reliable sites will offer some sort of a return policy in the event that you are given the incorrect merchandise or if there is something wrong with it.
- What are the shipping costs? This is an area where people are often swindled out of their money, as they do not take into account the extra shipping fees, which could cause you to break your budget.
- Can you talk to someone if you need help? No “Contact Us” page or information could raise cause for concern. It seems rather suspicious for a website not to have an actual person whom you could contact should you have any queries or concerns. It also indicates a willingness to help.
As with anything, practice caution.
What To Look For In A Uniform
- Comfort: The material should not be too hard and stiff that it causes discomfort, as you will obviously be spending a lot of time in this uniform. It will help to listen to the advice of others who are experienced, but don’t accept that as rule. Find what works for you and stick with it.
- Relatively loose-fitting: This does not mean that your pants should be baggy and your shirt two sizes too big. Just remember that your job will entail a lot of movement, so you need to be able to move freely in clothing that is not too tight.
- Durable: This is a must! Your uniform should be made of a durable fabric such as cotton; most medical uniforms will have a blend of about 55% cotton and 45% polyester. Since polyester is hydrophobic in nature, it does help in deterring any body fluids, which may easily be transferred to your uniform during your shift, from seeping through the fabric and onto your skin.
- Simple: There should be no buttons or zippers, as these could easily get caught on something such a bandage, or even a patient’s hair; there should be minimal room for dirt to hide.
- Easy to clean: Clothes that are easy to clean and don’t require ironing will spare you those precious extra minutes of sleep in the mornings or evenings.
Nursing Uniforms Are Not Complete Without The Right Shoes
Long shifts means that you will spend a lot of time on your feet, and you may be required to help patients walk or stand; so your feet will take a lot of strain and pressure. Average everyday shoes will not be able to the supply the comfort and support you need, so proper nursing shoes are a must.
Some popular nursing shoes brands are:
- Nurse Mates
- New Balance
- Easy Spirit
Your shoes should have closed tops so that nothing hazardous can make contact with the skin if any substances are dropped or spilled. They should also have nonskid soles; this is a very important factor as there will be instances where you could slip on fluid spilled on the floor. It may not seem like it, but this could be a particularly dangerous situation if you are carrying sharp medical tools or even helping a patient. Your nursing shoes should also have sufficient support for the arches of your feet, as this will in turn keep your back supported. Additional fit-in padding can also be used if need be.
Again, check with your hospital or institution as to what the nursing shoes requirements are for your as this could also vary. The color of the shoes may be specified, but if not, opt for a neutral color; nothing too bright or colorful as it will have to match your LPN uniforms.
It’s best not to buy your first pair of nursing shoes online; you should go into a store to feel what is comfortable for you. If you have narrow feet, for example, you may need to find a specific brand or manufacturer which will suit that. Loose shoes provide less comfort as well as less support. As with your scrubs, your shoes should be durable and made of strong materials. A thicker sole will help with the longevity of the shoes, as will it help in comfort and support.
Along with your nursing uniform, you will need to have a watch with a second hand so that you are able to time things, such as a patient’s pulse and heart rate, with absolute precision. Choose one which has a large enough face with a clean, simple design so that it is easy for you to tell the time and see the hands.
A small pair of scissors is also required, for everyday tasks such as cutting off bandages; this can also come in handy in an emergency situation. A penlight and stethoscope will also be required.
Personal Appearance And Hygiene
Apart from the obvious reasons for impeccable hygiene in a hospital, you should also keep yourself looking clean and neat as you will be dealing with people all day. Patients or their family members may be stressed or distraught, and your appearance should help put them at ease and feel that they can trust in you.
Men should keep their hair at a neat length, and women should keep their hair tied up so that it could not pose as a hazard.
Jewelry, Piercings, Tattoos
No jewelry other than a wedding ring and studs are allowed. If you have other visible piercings, you could use a natural colored plastic stopper. Tattoos should also be covered in order to maintain an air of professionalism. This is your job; remember that you are a representative of this institution and so there are standards to uphold. If you want to get a tattoo later in life while you are still working as a nurse, choose an area which can be easily concealable with clothing.
Nails should be kept neat and short, with no nail polish. Longer nails pose a threat and could hinder your performance.
Perfume is not allowed as it is very possible that it could harm patients who could be allergic to certain chemicals used, so rather just avoid this possibility altogether.
Be Prepared And Ask For Help
If you are unsure of any of the requirements for your LPN uniform do not be afraid to ask. Before going out to purchase anything, double check everything with the institution to ensure that you look and act as you are expected to.
Also bear in mind that every single nurse had to start out as you did, and there are some amazing forums on the internet with members who can offer advice based on their personal experiences. The last thing that should hinder your performance and new career as an LPN is your uniform.