I like joggers. If I needed to decide a bit of clothes to put on daily for the remainder of my life, it could be joggers. I put on them always — exterior the hospital, that’s.
Today, this alternative makes me an anomaly. Like the ever present clogs within the OR, jogger-style scrubs have taken over hospital flooring, changing basic ill-fitting, hospital-issued scrub units. That is very true amongst younger girls. Noticing this shift in apparel has led me to replicate on the utility of scrubs and on the function uniforms play in shaping our skilled identities. For me, the rising recognition of stylish, high-end scrub substitutes reveals insidious cultural issues in drugs.
As medical college students, along with studying take a strong affected person historical past or appropriately time toilet breaks within the OR, we’re additionally absorbing hospital tradition. Greater than something, medical college students search to slot in, to lastly change into part of the workforce we have now spent years attempting to hitch. Due to this fact, we attend intently to hospital norms, or oft-referenced “hidden curriculum,” as we profit once we mirror the behaviors of these round us.
Being snug at work issues, particularly in well being care, the place lengthy hours and demanding work situations are widespread. Jogger-style scrubs fill a necessity. Traditionally, well being care professionals have had few choices for scrub put on. As a result of hospital-issued scrubs had been designed as “unisex,” they tended to suit male our bodies nicely and feminine our bodies poorly. New scrub firms have tailor-made scrubs to accommodate completely different physique shapes; moreover, they improved designs by including practical pockets and utilizing wrinkle-resistant and stain-repellent materials.
Maybe, by becoming all physique varieties, they promote office inclusivity, permitting folks to current themselves in a approach that each flatters and presents full protection. Maybe having a alternative in work put on supplies alternatives to specific identities extra absolutely. Nevertheless, maybe tight-fitting jogger scrubs have change into one other approach gender is carried out within the office. Maybe jogger scrubs promote inequity.
With their fashionable, form-fitting look, jogger scrubs reinforce sure culturally-accepted norms of femininity. When dressing at 5 a.m., I’m normally serious about little aside from attending to rounds alive and caffeinated. At occasions, although, the selection feels weightier than the material. Am I selecting to really feel snug and classy? Am I selecting what makes me really feel seen as an equal? Why is that this even a alternative I must make?
Though just some months into scientific rotations, I’ve been mistaken for a nurse, regardless of carrying hospital-issued scrubs and a prominently-displayed medical scholar badge. One could be hard-pressed to discover a girl doctor who hasn’t skilled comparable confusion. I’ve additionally been informed by my trusted mentors to put on my glasses on the hospital. “You need to look sensible, don’t you? “Clearly, scrubs alone are usually not the only real issue influencing gender dynamics in well being care. But, on the threat of being trite, I don’t assume my male colleagues fear about how their clothes, eyewear, or bodily look will affect how they’re perceived within the hospital. Skilled apparel will not be the one lever within the power-hierarchy management room, however it’s one which feels influential, maybe as a result of we interface with it daily and are capable of train some extent of private company over it.
Hospital-issued scrubs function uniforms that flatten energy dynamics. Scrub merchandising machines dispense the identical scrubs to a neurosurgery attending and a first-year medical scholar. In contrast, jogger scrubs are costly, with a price ticket usually out of attain for many scholar medical doctors, lots of whom are (like me) in debt from financing their training. Partially due to this price, they’ve more and more change into a hospital standing image, selling a smooth, aspirational well being care-hustle tradition actively marketed by means of social media. In distinction, hospital-issued scrubs have at all times been the nice equalizer: Whether or not one beloved or hated their boxy, amorphous look, everybody wore the identical factor. We pay the value once we abandon this shared uniform.
As a uniform, scrubs embody the medical occupation. They make clear and distinguish roles in an usually in any other case overwhelming atmosphere. After we don our scrubs, we step into our skilled identities. They remind us of the oath we took to respect and uphold the dignity of each particular person entrusted to our care. Perhaps conventional unisex scrubs are anachronistic, symbolizing a time when solely white males had been welcomed as physicians. Perhaps hospitals ought to supply tailor-made scrubs that match extra physique varieties and are made from higher-quality material that hides sweat stains. However what values are we signaling to our sufferers, our colleagues, and our communities if we’re entering into joggers? Is that this the professionalism we intention to convey? Whereas there’s nothing problematic about eager to look good and be snug whereas working onerous, there’s nothing informal, snug, or athleisure about drugs. Perhaps our occupation advantages from sharing a uniform that reminds us of this fact.
Kenzie Whitcomb and Sarah Becker are medical college students.