More hospitals switch to color-coded uniforms


Gunderson Lutheran in LaCrosse, Wisconsin is one of the latest hospitals to implement color-coded uniforms for nursing staff. According to, Registered Nurses at Gunderson will wear white tops with navy blue slacks, while Licensed Practical Nurses will wear Caribbean blue and Medical Assistants will wear grey. The change is expected to benefit patients, who will be able to identify nursing staff at a glance.

Gunderson Lutheran joins a variety of color-coded hospitals nationwide, including the Cleveland Clinic, Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio and South Bay Hospital in Florida. All have switched to color-coded uniforms as a way to differentiate staff. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many patients and family members have troubling recognizing scrubs-wearing nurses as nurses in hospitals filled with scrubs-wearing personnel. Research published in Applied Nursing Research and Nephrology Nursing Journal also suggest that patients and visitors rate white-clad nurses higher on professionalism.

Additional research suggests that nurses’ uniforms may influence nurses’ perception of professionalism as well. A small study of nursing students published on found that poorly fitting uniforms negatively influenced students. One student commented that she, “felt like a cleaner,” while another stated, “if you feel awkward because something doesn’t fit properly…you’re less likely to be assertive.”

What do you think? Does your uniform affect your self-perception? Should more hospitals switch to color-coded care?


Jennifer Fink, RN, BSN
Jennifer is a professional freelance writer with over eight years experience as a hospital nurse. She has clinical experience in adult health, including med-surg, geriatrics and transplant; she also has a particular interest in women’s health and cancer care. Jennifer has written a variety of health and parenting articles for national publications.

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