When walking the streets today, it is easy to identify a medical professional by the set of cotton swabs they may be wearing. On television and in movies, doctors, nurses, and other health professionals wear some sort of scrub uniform. In fact, most, if not all, hospitals require medical personnel to wear scrubs while on duty. The cheap scrub kit is so popular that it has become standard hospital wear. Scrubs, however, haven’t been around forever.
Everyone is familiar with the typical nurse’s uniform. For example, the stereotypical nurse is generally depicted wearing a white uniform, white hat, and some sort of red cross. Although the typical nurse uniform goes back far in history, the creation of scrub-type uniforms for doctors is a relatively recent phenomenon. During the early years of surgery, doctors would dress up in the streets. Sometimes a butcher’s apron was worn to keep blood off the doctor’s clothes. Seeing blood and other bodily fluids on a doctor’s clothes was not a problem, but rather a sign that the doctor had had many patients and was therefore successful.
As in years past, the medical profession is becoming more aware of the risk of infection and the importance of maintaining sterile medical environments. Surgeons scurrying around with dried blood and guts on his clothes is certainly not sterile. As an attempt to reduce infection in the 1940s, doctors working in operating theaters began wearing antiseptic gowns to protect their clothing while in the operating room. The new gowns the surgeons wore were white. The white color is beautiful because it looks clean and crisp. However, white surgical gowns appear less clean and sterile when they are dipped in blood and body fluids. For many people, the contrast between the white uniform and the blood and bodily fluids was offensive. For this reason, the gowns worn by surgeons eventually became green. “Surgical green” as it is often referred to, is a good color for surgery because it blends colors better than white and reduces eye strain.
At this point in the scrub’s history, the old white doctor’s uniform had evolved into the standard green surgical outfit. Doctors see such a costume worn in old shows like MASH. Surgical greens are so named because they were worn by surgeons and, of course, were green. Over time, people began referring to surgical greens as scrubs because they were originally worn when people “cleaned” for surgery.
Today, scrubs are worn by almost all medical professionals and they are no longer just green. Many hospitals use different colored scrubs for different types of medical professionals. Scrubs no longer come in one standard style either. Medical professionals have access to different styles of scrubs in a wide variety of patterns and colors. Scrub shoppers can choose between different brand styles of inexpensive scrubs including brand names like Barco Metro Scrubs, Landau Scrubs, Cherokee Medical Scrubs, Cherokee Scrubs, and Cherokee Scrub Pants.
As the medical field has advanced in skill and technology, scrub uniforms have been forced to evolve in order to keep up.