Scrubs are basically synonymous with healthcare, but that wasn’t always the case. What did doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff wear before they wore scrubs? Why did they all make the switch? How did scrubs get so popular? In this blog post, we’ve outlined the history of scrubs, why they’re worn, and who currently wears them.
When Did Doctors and Nurses Start Wearing Scrubs?
Doctors started wearing scrubs in the twentieth century. Before scrubs were popularized, surgeons and doctors wore aprons over their street clothes to keep them clean. It wasn’t until the 1940s that the need for clean and sanitary operation rooms made scrubs a better option than aprons. The earliest medical scrubs were actually gowns or drapes and they were mainly worn by surgeons and surgical staff during operations.
The first scrubs were white, which was supposed to convey cleanliness and purity. However, the white fabric would strain staff’s eyes under the bright lights of the operating rooms. The blue, black, and other colored scrubs you see today weren’t popularized until the late 1960s early 1970s.
Nurses didn’t start wearing scrubs until a bit later. Nurses wore very traditional, all-white dresses, aprons and hats beginning in the early 1900s. Over time, hemlines became shorter and the hats were eliminated entirely in the early 70s, but white dresses and skirts are not practical and difficult to clean in a medical environment. In the late 70s/early 80s, scrubs for nurses became commonplace.
Why Do Doctors Wear Scrubs?
Doctors wear scrubs for a number of important reasons. Like firefighter suits or police uniforms, scrubs make it easy for patients and other civilians to identify medical staff. Scrubs are easy to wash and keep clean, which is a must when working in a healthcare environment. They also prevent both doctors and patients from getting infections, because modern scrubs are made with antimicrobial material.
Why Do Nurses Wear Scrubs?
Nurses wear scrubs for the following reasons: They’re sanitary and relatively easy to keep clean They allow for easy identification in any environment They look professional They protect the skin from being exposed to harmful substances and bacteria They keep patients safe from infections
Do Occupational Therapists Wear Scrubs?
Yes. Occupational therapists are required to wear scrubs at certain rehabilitation centers and hospitals. If scrubs are not required wherever the OT is employed, they often wear a polo shirt with either dark colored pants or scrub pants.
Do Pharmacists Wear Scrubs?
Yes. Pharmacists can wear scrubs, but it ultimately depends on where they work and their personal preference. Pharmacists that work in a hospital are much more likely to wear scrubs than those that work at a retail chain. Pharmacists also wear lab coats or other company clothing depending on the work environment.
Do Physical Therapists Wear Scrubs?
Yes. Physical therapists wear scrubs when required by their employer, but some also choose to wear them because they’re a simple, straightforward, affordable option. Other employers often require physical therapists to wear polo shirts with either the company logo or no logo.