The Matron of days gone is long gone even though many people are barely aware of it. One thing everyone knew though was that the Matron was always identifiable as being different from the other nursing staff by having a different Uniform. And woe betide any nurse found slacking as that uniform did it’s rounds.
The matron and her uniform have of course been resigned to the dustbin of history, but much else changes within our hospitals without the knowledge of our generally healthy public.
Nursing uniforms have changed a lot over the years to the extent that most people don’t really know what to expect a nurse to be wearing when they turn up in hospital. Depending on the department the specialism or the seniority of the nurse there can be any number of variations. From a brightly coloured and printed uniform in a modern Pediatric department to the scrubs used in surgery and in some emergency departments.
Several interesting studies have looked at the relationship between uniform styles and perception of nurse professionalism. Interestingly it seems that as we get older we like our nurses to wear more classical nurses styles. That is dresses in solid white or solid colours with white tops. I suppose this reflects our stylized expectation of what a nurse should look like. Which explains our expectations of what a nurses uniform costume will be like for Halloween. Ultimately it’s patient care that means the most.
Now that stereotype of the cutesie nurse uniform is in reality dead for several years. For some time now the practicality of the nurses job and their comfort have been prioritized over tradition. This has made for a new ranges of comfortable, practical uniforms of various different types for different purposes. It also means that different institution’s uniforms can be made more unique to them. Of course this is really how it has always been. Nurses uniforms have never been static things really. One does wonder if “retro” will ever be a theme in uniform fashion as it in fashion in general.
On a note of returning to past uniforms it is interesting to see the revival of the Matron in English hospitals and it does make me wonder if we might see a new category of nurses uniforms for a new modern Matron. And that perhaps we might once again see the revival of the Matron to kick our hospitals into shape.
If we do we’ll all get to say that famous Kenneth Williams line…