Interview: Stacey Tatroe, inventor of RN I.D. Scrubs!

Image: Amanda Lail FOTOGRAFIE

Your first day on the job as an RN is an exciting and hard-earned one…and worthy of a little (okay, a lot!) of celebration. That’s the thinking that led nurse Stacey Tatroe to design a special set of scrubs four years ago for her own first day on the job. She hand-stamped them with the letters “RN” and now, thanks to her persistence and dedication, RN I.D. Scrubs are hitting stores near you! Scrubs talked to Tatroe about her nursing career, the importance of RN Scrubs and becoming a nurse entrepreneur.

Scrubs: How did you get your start as a nurse?
Stacey Tatroe: It’s funny when I think about my becoming a nurse because it was never even a consideration when I was growing up. I was always a tomboy and I had a lot of law enforcement in my family. That seemed really natural to me, so I became a police officer. I am married to a police officer, and after the birth of our first son, I decided to change careers.

I was initially drawn to nursing because of the service aspect—I think I was born with a servant’s heart—and also for the job security. It was a huge leap for me because I had never attended college and I was literally starting all over. Not to mention I was older, working and had a small child. I contemplated my options and chose to become an LPN.

Scrubs: What do you hope these scrubs will achieve for nurses in the workplace?
ST: I made my first pair of RN I.D. Scrubs to wear in celebration on my first day as an RN. I was pretty proud of my accomplishment. Upon wearing them that day, I realized that many of the doctors and others I had worked with for three years had no idea that I had been an LPN. It made me realize that nurses had been lost in the sea of scrubs in healthcare and society in general.

Scrubs are a great uniform for many reasons, and everyone from dog groomers to dental assistants want to wear them. But the nurse—the nurse needs something more. We’ve earned it. I love being a nurse. Nurses bear an insane amount of knowledge, critical thinking, education, nerves, skills, coping, decision making and much more. At the very least, we deserve a uniform designated just for us.

Nursing is the most physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually challenging profession—so much so that I struggle to find ways to describe the experience accurately to anyone outside the profession. It is a true calling. If I could wear a neon sign that flashed and pointed to me reading “I’m the nurse,” I would. RN I.D. Scrubs gives me that.

Most simply, I hope nurses wear RN I.D. Scrubs and when people look at them, they know, immediately, that they are nurses. It’s a modern take on a nurse’s uniform that unmistakably identifies them.

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Cherokee Uniforms

Scrubs: What was the reaction from your peers?
ST: It’s a brutally honest profession where feelings, many times, are not spared. I knew when my coworkers said they loved them, they meant it. Every nurse who sees them loves them. They get it immediately. The craze they created when I initially wore them is what prompted me to pursue the patent. Now everyone is just waiting for them to become available so they can wear them, too.

Scrubs: How did you go about becoming a nurse entrepreneur?
ST: I knew it was great idea, but initially I wasn’t sure what to do with it. My first pair was made in 2007. In 2009, I bit the bullet and applied for a patent. Once my patent was pending, I Googled Cherokee scrubs, since it’s my favorite brand of scrubs. I picked up the phone and called the number listed for the corporate office; the next thing I knew, I was having a conversation with Mike Singer, CEO of Strategic Partners [owner of Cherokee Uniforms], and telling him all about my scrubs and how I was going to change the nursing uniform.

It has been a long, hard, four-year journey. Change never comes easily, but this is worth it. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat to ensure that all nurses have the opportunity to experience what I have experienced with RN I.D. Scrubs.

Scrubs: What’s in store for RN I.D. Scrubs?
ST: I think we are changing the nursing uniform. Nurses deserve it. It’s time for nurses to have a uniform that distinguishes us as the medical professionals we are and allows us to stand out to patients and coworkers.

This is phase one of RN I.D. Scrubs, which features tops in five colors. Three more colors and a unisex top will be out in August. I hope it grows from there—I would love to see an LPN version.

Stacey Tatroe, RN, BSN, is the inventor of RN I.D. Scrubs. She’s an ER nurse from Atlanta, a wife, a baseball and theater troupe mom, and PTA president.

Sponsored by Cherokee Uniforms

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