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Wear White Wednesdays


Wear White Wednesdays


Across Canada, nurses have been rallying to demonstrate pride in their profession and distinguish themselves. This movement began in 2012 in Nova Scotia and has spread to NB, PEI, Nfld and Lab, Sask and Alb. Recognizing that all staff have a direct impact on patient’s perception of care and their satisfaction, The Ottawa Hospital is encouraging nurses to Wear White on Wednesdays.


Nurses are the backbone of our health-care system, yet patients report an inability to identify nurses from other health-care professionals.

Uniforms are a form of non-verbal communication which identifies who a person is and their role (6). It symbolizes safety, security and stability (1). Many professions are identified by their uniforms such as police and priests. The uniform provides a profession with a common identity, separating it from others (6). Individuals expect a person to act in a certain way and possess specific skills and attributes based on a uniform (6).  The professional image supports the building and sustaining of trusting relationships and creates a healing environment.  Patients’ judgement of a nurse can influence their behaviour such as their willingness to share personal information, being open and receptive to education and to therapeutic interventions and thus impact on their care, safety and experience (7). Did you know that competencies, confidence and credibility are judged by others in the first 12 seconds of an interaction and is influenced by how one is dressed (1)?

Nurses have been identified as the most trusted profession, however many patients have difficulty identifying who their nurse is. Research suggests that nonstandard uniforms do not present a professional image and contribute to the inability to recognize nurses and their contribution to patient care (4). The inability to identify nurses increases distress during hospitalization for patients. Family members want to know who to approach for questions or concerns and suffer embarrassment when they approach the wrong person.

Patients’ judgement of a nurse can influence their willingness to share information, being open and receptive to education and therapeutic interventions, thus impacting their care, safety and experience (4,6,7).


Standardized uniforms have been found to have a positive impact on nurses and their patients: increasing the visibility of nurses and their contributions to health care, have had a positive impact on the nurse patient relationship, have increased nurses’ satisfaction and pride in their profession.  Patient perception of nurses’ professionalism and competency is linked to nursing attire (4). Patients have increased satisfaction scores, increased safety, improved perception of care and have had an overall positive affect on the patient experience (4,6).

The literature identifies that standardization of uniforms for nurses has increased patient satisfaction, increased patients’ ability to identify professional roles (4,6). There is a paucity of research to guide toward a standard style and colour (4). Nurses wearing solid coloured scrubs were rated higher than those wearing prints or t-shirts and were identified as more professional and approachable(4,7). The colours preferred were navy and white (5).

The literature also identifies the importance of name tags with large print and the professional designation clearly displayed (8, 3). Here at TOH, we will continue Wear White Wednesdays to promote the image of nurses as professionals.


  1. Bixler, S., L. Scherrer-Duggan, 2000. 5 steps to professional presence, 2nd ed. Avon, MA: Adams Media.
  2. Clavelle, J.T., M. Goodwin and L. J. Tivis, 2013. Nursing professional attire. JONA, 43(3): 172-177.
  3. Dumont, C. and K. Tagnesi, 2011. Nursing image: What research tells us about patients’ opinions.  Nursing 2011,  January: 9-11.
  4. Hatfield, L. A., M. Pearce, M. Del Guidice, C. Cassidy, J. Samoyan and R. C. Polomano, 2013. The professional appearance of Registered Nurses. JONA, 43(2): 108-112.
  5. Kaser, M., L. W. Bugle and E. Jackson, 2009. Dress code debate. Nursing Management, January: 33-38.
  6. Skorupski, V.J. and R.E. Rea, 2006. Patients’ perceptions of today’s nursing attire.  JONA, 36(9): 393-401.
  7. Thomas, C.M., A. Ehret, B. Ellis, S. Colon-Shoop, J. Linton and S. Metz, 2010. Perception of nurse caring, skills and knowledge based on appearance.  JONA, 40(11): 489-497.
  8. Whitmann-Price, R., L. Celia, S. Conners, R. Dunn and J. Chabot, 2011. Exploring perceptions of nursing image in an inner-city hospital. Nursing 2011, September: 23-27.

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This website gives you common facts, advice and tips. Some of it may not apply to you. Please talk to your doctor, nurse or other health-care team member to see if this information will work for you. They can also answer your questions and concerns.