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Letter: Color-coded nursing uniforms could help patients, families

As a registered nurse with 48 years of experience, I have had ample opportunity to observe the changing trends in uniforms/scrubs, from the starched caps and white dresses to what now passes as practitioner wear. My most recent employment was to care for terminally ill patients. Invariably, each January, patients and families were greeted by employees wearing jackets covered with cartoon characters proclaiming, “Happy New Year!” It was impossible to determine an individual’s job description.

When my own mother became a patient, my family was constantly asking, “Is that a nurse?” The ID tags were 2-by-3 inches. The majority of patients were elderly and compromised in every possible way with dementia, pain, delirium, poor eyesight and heavy sedation. These patients associate the color white with a nurse and are more easily able to process that it is, indeed, a nurse providing their care.

I am so blessed and privileged to be among the finest, brightest and most compassionate and capable professionals who literally make life-and-death decisions under circumstances that most would find difficult to comprehend.

What could possibly be offensive about color-coding, especially if it benefits those we so deeply care for? Chances are excellent that other professionals – teachers, lawyers, bankers, etc., won’t be found wearing clothing gaily decorated with Betty Boop! Attractive, comfortable and washable clothing is as easy to wear as sweatshirts and colorful yoga pants. We value respect from others. It’s about time we value ourselves.

Maureen Emerling, RN, BSN

Orchard Park

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