Hospital Dress Code Requirements for Medical Professionals

11 Hospital Dress Code Requirements for Medical Workers

by | Updated: Jan 28, 2023

Medical professionals must adhere to a strict dress code when working in a hospital. There are several reasons for this, including maintaining a professional appearance and protecting themselves (and patients) from infection.

In this article, we will discuss the most common hospital dress code requirements for medical professionals. This includes nurses, physicians, and respiratory therapists.

1. Wear Closed-Toed Shoes

One of the most important hospital dress code requirements is to wear closed-toe shoes. This is to protect your feet from spills and other accidents that can occur in a hospital, such as accidental needle sticks.

Can you imagine dropping a dirty syringe on your foot without protective shoes?

Do your feet a favor and invest in a good pair of closed-toe shoes specifically for work. You’ll be glad you did!

2. Wear Scrubs of the Right Color

Most hospitals will require you to wear scrubs while on duty. Scrubs are the traditional medical uniform and are easy to clean and maintain.

However, not all scrubs are created equal. Different colors of scrubs are typically worn by different medical professionals in order to easily identify their role in the hospital.

For example, nurses may be required to wear blue scrubs, while respiratory therapists may have to wear green scrubs. Be sure to check with your hospital’s dress code policy to see what color scrubs you are required to wear.

You cannot go wrong with the Adar Addition Go-Basic Scrub Set (for women).

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3. Wear a Lab Coat

Lab coats are recommended because they look professional, and they serve as an extra layer of protection against blood, chemical spills, and body fluids.

Not to mention, they are made of flame-resistant materials that can help protect you in the event of a fire.

This universal lab coat by Adar is great for nurses, doctors, and respiratory therapists.

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4. Wear Your ID Badge

Most hospitals will require you to wear your identification badge at all times while on duty. This is for the safety of both patients and staff members.

Your ID badge should be clearly visible and worn in a prominent location, such as on your chest or lapel.

Not to mention, your ID badge is likely what allows you to get access to certain areas of the hospital, so be sure to wear it at all times.

5. Keep Your Uniform Clean

It’s important to keep your uniform clean and free of wrinkles or stains. This not only looks professional, but it also helps to prevent the spread of infection.

Be sure to wash your scrubs after each shift and iron them if necessary. You’re not only representing yourself when in uniform, but you’re also representing the hospital in which you work.

6. Avoid Wearing Jewelry

While you may be tempted to show off your personal style with some jewelry, it’s important to keep it to a minimum while on duty.

This is because jewelry can easily become caught on something, which can lead to serious injury. It can also hinder your effectiveness of certain skills, such as sticking a vein or artery with a syringe.

In addition, jewelry can also harbor germs and bacteria, which can be dangerous in a hospital setting.

7. Keep Your Fingernails Clean

Another important hospital dress code requirement is to keep your fingernails clean and trimmed. This helps to prevent the spread of infection, as dirty or long nails can harbor bacteria.

In addition, long nails can also make it difficult to perform certain medical tasks that require precision with your fingers.

8. Keep Your Hair Neat

It’s important to keep your hair neat and out of your face while on duty. This rule applies to both men and women.

Gentlemen should keep a clean haircut and facial hair that is well-groomed. Ladies should avoid loose, long hair that could get in the way or fall into patients’ faces.

If you have long hair, be sure to tie it back in a low ponytail or bun.

female doctor holding clipboard illustration

9. Avoid Wearing Strong Fragrances

While you may enjoy wearing perfume or cologne, it’s important to avoid wearing strong fragrances while working in the hospital.

This is because some patients may be sensitive to strong smells or fragrances, which can trigger asthma attacks or headaches. In addition, strong fragrances can also be overpowering in small spaces, such as hospital rooms.

10. No Chewing Gum

It may sound ridiculous, but chewing gum is actually not allowed in most hospitals. This is because gum can easily become stuck to medical equipment or fall out of your mouth while treating a patient.

How embarrassing!

Not to mention, it’s just unprofessional to smack on gum while communicating with a patient, family member, or coworker.

11. Wear the Right Tools

In some cases, medical tools become an extended part of your uniform. For example, respiratory therapists must wear their stethoscopes at all times in the hospital.

This is because they need to have quick and easy access to perform auscultation and listen to their patient’s lung sounds.

Similarly, nurses and doctors have certain tools that they must wear while on duty, such as a watch with a second hand and a penlight.

This is our top-recommended stethoscope for medical professionals.

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Final Thoughts

Following the hospital dress code is important for both you and your patients. By adhering to the requirements, you can help to prevent the spread of infection and maintain a professional appearance.

Be sure to check out our similar guide on the skills needed for being a respiratory therapist. Thanks for reading!

Written by:

John Landry, BS, RRT

John Landry is a registered respiratory therapist from Memphis, TN, and has a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. He enjoys using evidence-based research to help others breathe easier and live a healthier life.