Fri | Feb 23, 2018

Nurses’ attire and professionalism

Published:Thursday | December 28, 2017 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

There is a common belief that clothing and attire have a strong influence over the way other people perceive an individual. Appropriate dress, along with basic etiquette, is the most common association made to professionalism. In the world of professionalism and career, uniforms are important as they assist in identification of the profession, career or organisation to which the individual belongs. Nurses are professionals and are a part of uniformed groups. The white uniform has been an important image that depicts the profession and professionalism in their attire.

In Jamaica, there has been a growing concern among some members of the public, patients, relatives, and some senior members of the nursing profession regarding the attire of some of our nurses. The attire of some of the nurses at two major hospitals in Kingston was observed and deemed inappropriate for the nursing profession. The nurses are seen wearing closely-fitted short uniform, hair that appears to be unkempt, long extensions, and acrylic fingernails. These observations gave cause for concern as it relates to the nursing professional image, transmission of diseases and general care delivery.

There is an on-going debate as to whether there should be a standard dress code for nurses with people speaking both for and against it. In Jamaica, the regulatory body for the nursing profession has no standard dress code for nurses in place. This decision is left up to the employment agency e.g., the hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

Some nurses are described as being unkempt and unprofessional in their mode of dress and are perceived as irresponsible and unprofessional. Based on this perception, the patients and relatives tend to respond with disdain to these nurses and this sometimes generalised to include most, if not all, nurses depending also on the situation that exists. There is also the perception that the nurses may not have been instructed during training about grooming and professionalism.

This growing issue needs further investigation as these observations have impact on the image of the profession and the delivery of care. All stakeholders need to be on board regarding this situation.

Andrea Woolcock