The Powerful Language of these Blue Scrubs

Amanda Matkovic, DUSNA Legislative Chair

In a society that so often encourages individual expression, uniforms continue to claim their place in the culture of the United States. Uniforms are worn by many professions. Police officers wear uniforms to identify themselves as safe individuals who enforce the law. Lifeguards are known to wear red uniforms with a white cross, identifying themselves as individuals trained to protect beach and pool-goers and provide CPR and first aid when needed. Judges wear black robes to claim their authority as interpreters of the law. Additionally, many professionals, especially in healthcare, identify themselves with a name tag that displays their job title in large, bold font. Before a single word rolls off a person’s tongue, his or her uniform interrupts and speaks first. Put simply, it says who the person is, what the person is there to do, and who the person represents.

Historically, U.S. nurses donned starched white dresses with hose, shoes, and caps of the same color, which scrubsidentified them as clean and pure. Thankfully, someone eventually realized that such a uniform is a perfect canvas for a display of all bodily fluids encountered that day and that performing proper hand hygiene in front of a patient before and after entering his or her room speaks of cleanliness just the same. As nursing students at Duquesne University, we bear our own uniform which speaks volumes about us. Some say these bold, royal blue, monochrome ensembles give those who wear them the appearance of Smurfs or prisoners in jumpsuits. (Thank goodness our neighbors at the ACJ wear red instead.) Regardless of our opinion of the uniform, outlined in detail in the 2015-2016 Undergraduate Student Handbook, it speaks volumes about us. The name tag alone tells all we encounter three important pieces of information: our first name, our role (nursing student), and our school (Duquesne University).

Whether we are on campus, at our clinical site, or traveling to or from clinical (and per DUSON policy, nowhere else), our uniform allows others to recognize us as students of nursing, the profession of caring. Around campus other students may see our blue attire as an invitation to ask whether their pounding headache and lethargy is from caffeine withdraw or just stress from the eight deadlines they have looming over their heads for next week. At our clinical sites, it identifies us as a nursing students, who are still learning but eager to assess and care. Our uniform tells our patients that we are a unique and vital part of the healthcare team.

In addition to telling people our name and role, the “Duquesne University School of Nursing” emblem reveals where we are from.  These five words may be stitched in small, but their presence on our shirt carry great significance. By displaying the name of DUSON on our attire, we show pride in attending a BSN program recently named an NLN Center for Excellence. Moreover, we carry the responsibilities that the name holds. As a representative of DUSON, we are held to high standards to act professionally with sound moral and ethical judgment at all times. We represent a university whose entire mission is centered around “serving God by serving others,” and are called to do the same. The way we present and conduct ourselves while sporting our recognizable blue, influences the way outsiders, possibly future employers, coworkers, or potential DUSON students, view our school.

As you can see, what we wear sp
eaks so much before we open our mouth. It shares who we are and what we do. Our uniform represents something far greater than our individual selves. It represents our future profession and our school. May we wear our scrubs, Smurf-like they may be, with pride and act in accordance with all standard of the five-word name we bear.

Photo by Amanda Matkovic

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