Special Dress Code Required for Health Science Majors

Brittany Lovette, Staff Writer

Many health care majors have to spring for special duds to wear during clinical placements.

Nursing, medical imaging, physical therapy and occupational therapy majors are required to wear special uniforms when they go out into the field or complete placements.

According to Audrey Cunfer, MSN, RN, Wilkes University, Luzerne County Community College and Misericordia University are asked to buy their own scrubs for their placements. The colors of the scrubs are based on the colors of the school. Wilkes nursing students wear royal blue scrubs and Misericordia students buy navy blue or white.

“Wearing a uniform with Misericordia identification distinguishes them from other students also doing clinical in our local hospitals, presents them as soon-to-be professionals in their field and demonstrates to the employees at the facilities who they are and which institution they represent,” Cunfer said. “May patients complain that everyone looks the same in the hospital. Our students’ uniform clearly distinguishes them as nursing students from Misericordia University.”

Cunfer said students from all regional colleges and universities serve their clinical experiences at some of the same hospitals, including Geisinger Wyoming Valley and Moses Taylor Hospital.

Clinical placements, which may be at medical/surgical or specialty sites, start in a nursing major’s junior year and continue until they graduate. Specialty sites include obstetrics, pediatrics, psychiatric mental health, and the community. Students who serve the community are encouraged to wear khaki pants and a blue polo top with the Misericordia logo embroidered on it.

“When they go to the community, most of those agencies, those nurses don’t dress as nurses  you would see in the hospital, so they wear khaki pants and a polo top like a golf shirt,” said Cunfer.

Medical imaging students are required to wear uniforms according to the placement site.. Their scrubs are not imprinted with any university logos because students wear name tags that identifies the students’ schools.

“Yeah, last year I was at Wilkes-Barre General and had to wear black bottoms with a grey top. This year I was at Hazelton General and had to wear all blue,” said junior medical imaging major Kathleen Lord. “Other places have different dress codes as well. I also need a separate outfit for when I go for out-patient care in which case I wear khakis and a polo top.”

Lord said she has to buy her scrubs at different times because she doesn’t know where her future placements will be.

OT students do not wear scrubs for their placements. They are encouraged to wear shoes that have a grip and a name tag.

“Field work depends on upon where you are. It’s usually a relaxed dress code, especially in schools, or it would be khakis and polos or a sweater,” said junior occupational therapy student Christina Tucci. “You can certainly dress up more, but you need to have shoes that have a grip so you can do things with your patients.”

Since OT students don’t wear scrubs, they have to purchase clothing that will fit the dress codes of their placement sites in addition to name tags.  Tucci said uniforms aren’t too costly because clothing can be interchangeable.

“I know a lot of kids reuse theirs they just interchange a shirt or a pair of pants and stuff, and they get clothes that they can keep re-wearing and change it up,” said Tucci. “For me, I went to a private school and we to wear a uniform, like a dress code and stuff, so I had all dress clothes prior to coming to school.”

PT student who are placed in hospitals are more likely to wear scrubs.

“Or any sort of inpatient, not necessarily a hospital. It can even be a rehab hospital or it can be like a nursing home, assisted living and stuff like that. But if it’s an outpatient it varies,” said junior PT student Hailey Buxton. “I went to a PT place where I could wear yoga pants and a t-shirt, staff shirt, or you can have times wear you have to wear khakis and sneakers and like professional or business casual, I should say.”

According to Buxton, the PT club sells clothing for the students to wear.

“The PT club sells polos, which do have the MU PT logo, but most places it’s like any field work you’re going do.  You get a name tag that says “physical therapy student” and has the school name on it and the logo, as well as your name,” Buxton said.

Cunfer said she recommends students going to Med Plus in Wilkes-Barrel to buy  scrubs and other items nursing students are required to have because scrubs must have the Misericordia logo embroidered on them.

Cunfer said the price of scrubs changes each year.

“Like every year, the prices go up a little bit. So we don’t have the current yearly pricing yet, but I would say they are no more expensive than if you just had to buy them for work anyway,” said Cunfer.

Nardi and Cunfer, who is the nursing lab manager, clinical coordinator and simulation coordinator, are in charge of students’ placements. The two find placements as soon as they receive the number of students who are ready.

“So I have to either meet with or call Cindy Nardi who is the secretary. She does a lot of that work as well. She does contact through the Internet and contacts them that way,” said Cunfer. “Sometimes we have to go meet them, but we get the sites where the students have to go and figure out how many students there are and figure out how many sites we need and set that up.”

Cunfer said nursing students are sent to several area hospitals as well as local schools and health agencies.

“In our program, they go to Wilkes-Barre general and Geisinger Wyoming Valley and sometimes we got Moses Taylor, which is in Scranton,” said Cunfer. “For community, which is in the senior year, they go to a variety of community agencies, which could be a health agency, could be a hospice agency. It could be a school.”

Because scrubs are the required uniform, students wear them as they are entering the professional work force.

“I think any teachers, anybody that has to go out, then they are expected to dress professionally or dress like their professions dress,” said Cunfer. “While it is an expense, in college everything seems like an expense, because you have a limited income and you’re paying a lot of money. I think it’s kind of educating.  You know how it’s going to be in the real world.”

[email protected]