Authors

  1. Stiklorius, Candace MSN, RNC
  2. Anderson, Jennifer
  3. Hoffman, Lynn R. RN, OCN
  4. Hurley, Bob
  5. Regan, Joan L. RN
  6. Sve, Roberta RN
  7. Bricker, Linda RN
  8. McHugh, Thomas A. RN, CRNA
  9. Winner, Michele
  10. Barnum, Pat RN
  11. Russell, Catherine II LPN
  12. Sizer, Cathy J. MS, RN, CPNP
  13. Hefner, Cassaundra RN
  14. Scheler, Rita Miller

Article Content

I put the red-and-white "RN" patch on my lab coat after attending the RN: The Past, Present, and Future of the Nurses' Uniform exhibition in Philadelphia. During Nurses Week I surveyed 155 nurses in an urban academic medical center about wearing the patch. Only 29 of them thought that patients and others were able to distinguish RNs from other health care workers, but 147 wanted to be known as RNs. Shown the RN patch, which was featured on the April cover of AJN and designed by the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia for the exhibition, 120 of them said they would wear it on their scrubs or lab coats as a way to assert their RN identity, and 128 supported the idea of a national campaign to make the logo an acceptable way to identify RNs.

 

When I decided to go to nursing school, the number of people who asked, "Why don't you go to medical school?" dismayed me. It has become clear that they were unaware of exactly what nurses do. I think it's important that nurses are identifiable, and the RN patch seems to be a simple yet effective way to accomplish this. When the public can identify nurses, they'll be one step closer to understanding that nursing is a unique profession with its own responsibilities that requires exceptional skills.

 

I enthusiastically support the RN patch. When I graduated from nursing school in 1976 we wore the white uniform with our caps. We were also addressed by our surnames, never by our first names. I reluctantly gave up my cap in 1996 and began wearing the colored scrubs that all other nurses wear. At that time our patients and their families also began calling us by our first names. Even though my practice hasn't changed, I frequently find that patients and families respect me and other nurses less. I can't tell if this is because of changes in the way nurses dress or changes in our society.

 

At our local military hospital, nurses' aides, hospital volunteers, laboratory assistants, and even janitors dress alike. I don't understand why, with all the formal education that RNs receive, they would want to run around looking like Tinkerbell in a coat of many colors. My wife of 32 years is a wonderful nurse. I have watched while her sharp, white, professional RN uniform was slowly replaced by a melange of bugs, teddy bears, and colors. I'm sure we all notice that police officers and others wear garb that easily identifies them. Let's do the same for our RNs.

 

When we threw out the caps and the whites, with their handmaiden associations, it seems we also threw out many things of value. I'm returning to nursing after a long hiatus, and I'm appalled by name tags that read, "Mary, RN." When have you ever seen a physician with a nametag that reads, "Teresa, MD"? I've been shocked by nurses who crack gum and wear long hair and acrylic nails. It also amazes me that nurses come and go from work in their uniforms. I'd like to think that these criticisms have less to do with my age than with the high standards in place when I graduated in 1973. I really like the idea of the RN patch, and I think that RNs should wear only solid-color scrubs so that the patch will stand out.

 

Recently, a patient told me what he missed most in a hospital was seeing nurses dressed in white. "Now I don't know who is who," he said. Patients frequently ask if I'm an RN, even though my badge identifies me as one. I, too, miss nurses dressed in white. A part of me still yearns for a white uniform and, yes, even a cap. Bring on the red RN patches. At least patients will know who we are.

 

The RN logo is dynamite. If it could be created on hard plastic and attached with a pin or Velcro, we could avoid frequently washing it.

 

Editor's note: Valley Products Company says that the patches hold up very well with washing.

 

Recently I was a surgical patient, and my experiences with some of the nurses made me embarrassed to be an RN. My roommate had diabetes and was visually impaired and immobile. The first time the RN came into the room was three hours into the shift and then only quickly stated her name before leaving. My own nursing care consisted of the removal of my HepLock and being told that it would be several hours before my paper work would be available. A patch that makes you look like a greeter at a national discount retailer will not solve the problem of identifying the nurse. That will be solved when nurses remember that their purpose is to care for patients.

 

I think the patch is ugly and will clash with most of the current nursing attire. But I've often heard patients grumble that they can't tell the housekeeper from the nurse. I'm an older student nurse, and many of my younger classmates were resistant to wearing our school caps at graduation. It saddens me to think that the prestige of the cap and the whites is about to be lost. I hope that someone can come up with something other than a patch to help us regain the identity we've earned.

 

I'm appalled that AJN supports the patch. My name badge indicates that I'm an RN, and I tell my patients that I'm their nurse. When I surveyed my nursing coworkers, not one of them supports the red and white badge.

 

My faith has been reaffirmed in nursing. Not only can I live to defeat hepatitis C, but now I can aspire to wear the intergalactic nursing uniform. With its deep cut and navel-baring waistline, I'll be the pinup nurse. Just looking at me will cure whatever ails my patients. Hospitals will be able to give Hooters a run for its money.

 

Call me old-fashioned, but I miss the white uniform. We were professional nurses, and we looked the part. While I realize that scrubs are comfortable and practical, not being able to tell a nurse from a housekeeper lowers the bar for the profession. I experienced this recently as a patient. I found myself addressing my problems to the wrong hospital workers. Maybe the cap is passe, but I would vote for bringing back the white uniform.

 

Every year for the past six, in honor of Nurses Week I have worn my white cap, dress, nylons, and perfectly polished shoes. It's the only time I can do this without being ridiculed. For the second year in a row my hospital will host a Nursing White Out. We ask all RNs and LPNs to wear their caps and whites, and the response is wonderful.

 

My classmates and I were truly lucky to be accepted into the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps at the Bellevue School of Nursing in New York City in June 1943. We laughed about our long-skirted, aproned, cuffed and collared uniforms, black shoes, black lisle hose, and "probie" caps (they were starched, buttoned, and winged by the hospital laundry). And our senior caps-"the upside down cupcake holders"-were our pride and joy. To this day I appreciate what the government gave us-an opportunity to change our status in life, and in turn provide comfort and care to the ill.

 

Candace Stiklorius, MSN, RNC

 

Philadelphia, PA

 

Jennifer Anderson

 

San Francisco, CA

 

Lynn R. Hoffman, RN, OCN

 

Richmond, VA

 

Bob Hurley

 

Radcliff, KY

 

Joan L. Regan, RN

 

Las Vegas, NV

 

Roberta Sve, RN

 

Silver Bay, MN

 

Linda Bricker, RN

 

Fairway, KS

 

Thomas A. McHugh, RN, CRNA

 

St. Charles, MO

 

Michele Winner

 

Lewes, DE

 

Pat Barnum, RN

 

Redford, MI

 

Catherine Russell, LPN II

 

Memphis, TN

 

Cathy J. Sizer, MS, RN, CPNP

 

Waltham, MA

 

Cassaundra Hefner, RN

 

Hickory, NC

 

Rita Miller Scheler

 

Boynton Beach, FL

 

How to get the RN patch

Lydia's Uniforms is offering the patch for $4.99 plus shipping (http://www.lydiasuniforms.com). It's also available through Valley Products Company in quantities of 50 or more (starting at 70 cents per patch plus shipping) at val-pro@clothlabels.com or by calling (800) 451-8874. The Center for Nursing Advocacy is also making patches available in quantities of three or more ($1.25 per patch, includes postage) at http://www.nursingadvocacy.org/action/RN-patch.html.