Friday, January 31, 2014

Musings on Healthcare, Scrubs and Grey's Anatomy (is that show still on?)

In order to bankroll my lux lifestyle here on the Coast of Illinois, I spend the better part of my time

wearing scrubs. Ah scrubs. Those paper thin drawstring pajamas with pockets. I hate them and blame them for my overall increase in BMI.

Scrubs use to be a hot item. Literally. They were stolen right and left. I remember being so excited (and thirty pounds lighter) when I transferred from the White Uniform from Head to Toe, Including Stockings world of floor nursing to the operating room. I got to wear people clothes to work and then changed into generic, unisex, anemic blue scrubs. I felt as though I was being admitted into an elite society.

Over the years, uniforms have been phased out and replaced by scrubs so colorful that given the right choice of pattern and color, a nurse could blend into the wallpaper. This skill may be acceptable in the animal world but in the world of higher functioning primates it is frowned upon. Plus, with the enormous choice of color, style, price and comfort everyone wears them. Which has become somewhat of a problem. It seems that people actually prefer to be able to tell the difference between a RN, a housekeeper and the visitor who just likes to wear scrubs.

So, to that end, the Big House where I work has 'color-coded' staff. Secretaries wear one color, techs wear another, respiratory therapy yet another. As a nurse, I wear Navy Blue. Thank heaven. When I heard we were being color-coded I had the fear that our color would be Emergency-Glow-in-the-Dark Orange. Navy is a great choice. We all look chic and ten pounds slimmer.

The downside? For the first time in nearly ten years, I have to buy new clothes. My previous job allowed any color or pattern of scrubs. I had an entire 60 gallon Rubbermaid tub of these scrubs for every season and holiday. Not a single one of them was solid Navy. At my current job (nurses are notorious job hoppers) my scrubs were provided. They were, once again, anemic blue unisex.

I spent a month studying the Navy Blue choices in all the scrub catalogs. Everyone in the cataloges are so perky. They wear their stethoscopes tossed jauntily around their necks and in the action shots it looks as though they are jogging on a beach. Weird. When we run into a room its dragging a big red cart with paddles connected to 260joules. Stethoscopes are stuck in ears and no one is smiling.

In the hopes of a more realistic shopping experience, I opted for the Uniform Store conveniently located within the Big House complex. Armed with my holiday gift card (thanks PACU management team!) I wandered in and was promptly greeted $47 Grey's Anatomy scrub tops. Seems a little excessive for a pajama top based on a television show which may or may not still be on television. Oh sure, the fabric was unbelievably soft and stretchy and the pocket placement was...cute. But forty-seven DOLLARS??? Sadly, hospital workers do not get $50,000 dollars per episode. And even more sadly, most of us are not built like television people.

The Grey's Anatomy scrubs run close to three sizes smaller. Which even with the 'stretch' put my generic medium scrub butt into a size XXL.

Like I am ever going to buy ANYTHING in a XXL.

It seems that I have discovered the Commercial Identity Paradigm:

Labeling an item with a Television Show name causes an automatic decrease in size with a corresponding increase in price and a dig at the consumer's self worth.

It's almost like they don't want us 'normal' people to look good. Do the designers really think we look like those people from Grey's Anatomy? Are they saying that only wealthy people are svelte? Is Grey's Anatomy really still one TV???

In the end, I let my vanity and my checkbook do the talking and opted for the much cheaper Frank's Body Parts brand. The fabric is not nearly as soft, the lack of stretch has forced me to maintain my healthy eating plan and the pockets are merely functional. And honestly, no matter what the price point, scrubs are simply drawstring pajamas.

And drawstring pants all but encourage poor health by literally stretching bigger and bigger.

And THAT is the real downfall in our healthcare system. 

Caps, dresses and martinis. Ah...those were the days.
Want to read more of my adventures in Nursing? Check out these links:

Beck and Call 

Nurses Week 2013

It's a Living


  1. Hilarious! I inherited a scrub shirt from a friend who'd lost weight (or gained it, not sure which) - anyway, it was the softest, most comfortable thing I'd ever owned. When the catalog came around, I'm one of those who bought some scrubs even though I am NOT a medical health professional - mine was (is) royal blue with gold stars and moons on them. Love it, and the matching baseball hat, too.

    Haven't watched Grey's Anatomy in ages, no clue as to whether it is still on. But I share your angst at the super-small sizing. Not fair!

    1. My guess is your friend gained weight - no one ever loses weight in scrubs. They are a slippery slope!! But, there is no denying the all the fun patterns there are to choose from.

  2. Hi Laura! This is Ashley from SITS Girls! So glad to find you here! I am also a nurse! I work in geriatrics at a nursing home. This was a great post! Yes it is true the uniforms have changed so much over time I agree that it is hard to tell who actually the nurse is haha I have seen many hospitals giving nurses a large RN tag to wear with there name tags..

  3. So happy you found my blog. I am not in need of your products at this time but thanks for the read!

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