The debate about going out in the public with your scrubs has been around for a long time especially among medical professionals. Scrubs aren't meant for public use. However, we believe that there are situations when one can’t help but wear them outside of the hospital. We took a minute to think about the pros and cons of wearing scrubs in public.
WHERE ARE YOU GOING? There are places it could be seemingly practical to wear your scrubs. For example, if you're just getting off work and need to grab groceries on your way home, we wouldn't blame you for wearing your scrubs out. Just remember, they might have some extra germs on them that you could spread around the grocery store. This being said, going out after work in your scrubs should be for a short trip, and try to keep your germs to yourself.
WHERE DO YOU WORK? WHAT'S ON YOUR SCRUBS? If your job requires attending to contagious patients or a sterile environment, you shouldn't wear your scrubs outside of work. In some situations, your employer may even provide scrubs for you that you leave for the hospital to launder. Remember to be conscious of your exposure to communicable pathogens during the day, and keep your germs to yourself.
THE RANDOM STRANGER PROBLEM. I think this one speaks for itself. Random strangers (and our mothers, brothers, friends, second cousins, and that one guy you met once at a party) find out that you work in medicine, and ask you about all their medical problems. To avoid seeing everyones moles, and hearing about everyones bowel movements, avoid wearing your scrubs in public. If you look like a normal person, you might fly under the radar (kinda like superman).
BUT, IF YOU MUST... Remember if you are going to wear your scrubs in public, that you are a representative of the entire medical community. Be mindful of the things you are doing, where you are going and how you carry yourself (especially if there are any hospital logos on your scrubs or outerwear). And always remember to remove your identification badge.
If you are wearing your scrubs outside of the hospital before work (maybe to grab that life saving cup of coffee before your shift), remember that you also pick up germs from your outside environment. If you work with immune compromised patients (i.e. transplant patients, cancer patients) you should be extra careful about what you bring into work. As healthcare workers, we are diligent about hand-washing, cleaning our patients areas, wearing gloves and proper protective equipment to keep our patients safe. Dont forget to consider the microbes that can be carried on your clothes, and be diligent of what you're exposed to before patient care.
I know it might be tempting to wear your scrubs in public, but consider where you are going and what you'll be exposed to; and in turn, what you're exposing others to.
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