Thursday, March 23, 2017

Why I don't wear scrubs

Some of the nurses at work were talking about a sale on scrubs.  I was listening in, because I only have one pair of scrubs that I wear on call and they're awful.  The top is so big that it could be a dress on me.

Nurse: "Actually, I've never seen you in scrubs, Dr. McFizz.  You never wear them!"

They pointed out that a few of the other doctors do sometimes wear scrubs during 9-5 business hours, but some of us don't.  Here's why I don't:

When I was an intern, I worked at a county hospital, serving a very poor population.  Intern year is hard, and I wanted nothing more than to live my life in scrubs--basically, nonstop pajamas.  But our program director said to us, "You know, these patients may be very poor and not speak English, but they should be treated with respect. And that means they deserve a doctor who is well dressed."

Some of the other interns wore scrubs every day anyway, but I didn't.  On non-call days, I wore "nice" clothes. Those words really stuck with me, even now, over ten years later.  I feel like it's more respectful to dress in nice clothes when I see patients.


  1. I had a pair of comfy Crocs with sheepskin lining. So comfortable....but so very, very ugly. I used to tell people that the holes over the toes were to allow my dignity to leak out.

  2. I have to side with you on this one McFizz - scrubs are glorified pajamas you don't mind getting blood, vomit, feces, etc. on and not suitable for patient encounters where you don't expect to get baptized in the aforementioned bodily by-products.

  3. In my thinking, scrubs are for when you expect to have a lot of physical contact with patients and the sanitary outcome is questionable. Nurses deal with patients (in a physical sense) much more than doctors and scrubs sort of became their uniform.
    I personally wouldn't mind I was seen by a doctor in scrubs, but I would likely mistake them for a nurse at first. Especially if the scrubs had colorful designs of cartoon characters on them.

    1. You said what I was thinking, that in an office setting, I would guess nurse or PA if someone came at me in scrubs. And if that someone turned out to be a doctor, I'd have assumed the person had just come from an ER or Surgical center or something. But I certainly would not be offended by a doctor who elects to see patients in scrubs. I'd wear scrubs to work if I could.

  4. Great piece of information, thanks for taking the time to share. 

  5. Interesting. I felt the same way during my high school teaching career and dressed professionally for the benefit of the kids.
    --Queen Anne's Lace

  6. I remember a surgeon from medical school insisted that any time you saw patients you should be in dress clothes. So even in the days he worked in the OR he would arrive in a suit (and bow tie) and change out of it to see post op patients. He was a bow tie wearer (to avoid getting the tie in the wound during exams). It was difficult (especially as a resident) to model this behavior. He ended up dying from radiation induced pulmonary fibrosis (late complication of hodgkin's) and continued to write recommendations for medical students and residents from his ICU bed. Which makes it hard to take the line that changing in and out of scrubs was an onerous and unacheivable task. When he believed something was the right thing to do, he committed to it.