In 2021, the United States was home to over 21.2 million healthcare workers. Most were employees in non-hospital facilities, but over a third worked in hospitals.
Experts project those figures to rise faster than the average for all other U.S. occupations. Indeed, the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts its employment rate to grow 13% from 2021 to 2031. The B.L.S. also expects 1.9 million new healthcare job openings every year.
So, if you’re a healthcare worker, too, the above means you have numerous work opportunities. And once you land a job, buying scrubs would be one of the first things you need to do.
Below, we’ve discussed the top factors to consider when buying the best scrubs for work, so read on!
Compliance With Your Employer’s Dress Code
Healthcare facilities, including hospitals and clinics, require most on-duty staff to wear scrubs. That includes doctors, nurses, lab technicians, medical receptionists, and custodians.
For the same reason, most healthcare institutions implement color coding for scrubs. Doing so helps simplify identification, such as doctors vs. nurses vs. lab techs, and so on. Otherwise, healthcare personnel and patients may get confused about who is who.
For example, mandatory hospital scrubs for physicians may have to be dark blue. Light blue may then be the color choice for nursing scrubs. Maroon may be for lab techs, gray for receptionists, and brown for custodians.
So, review your employer’s dress code policy to know the color you need before buying scrubs for work. You should also check if they only allow traditional types of scrubs or if you can go with wrap-around or tunics.
Whether you buy medical scrubs online or in-store, you need to know your body measurements. For accurate sizing, get a tape measure and a partner to help.
To know your scrub tops’ measurements, have your partner measure the following:
- Chest: The fullest section of your bust or chest
- Length: Starting from the center back neck seam to the lowest edge
- Waist: Your natural waistline
For your scrub pants, ask your partner to measure around your hips as you stand. You want the measurement taken from the fullest part of your hips.
Finally, have your partner measure your inseam with your feet steel slightly apart. The measurement should start from your crotch area to your ankle.
Once you have your measurements, consider adding a few inches to them. Remember: Your scrubs must be loose enough to let you move, bend, or reach without restrictions. However, you don’t want them to be too baggy because they can make you look unprofessional.
Cotton, polyester, rayon, and spandex are some of the most common materials used in scrubs. Each has an advantage over the other, but they also have trade-offs. Thus, today’s scrubs use blends of two or more materials to compensate for what one lacks.
Cotton is absorbent, soft, and breathable because of its loosely-packed pores. Those features make it an ideal component of scrubs worn by nurses who run around all day.
The problem with 100% cotton is that it tends to retain sweat odors and germs because it absorbs moisture. Researchers also found they often contain higher amounts of pathogens than synthetic fabrics.
Polyester is a manufactured synthetic fiber comprised of plastic materials. As a result, it’s not absorbent but rather hydrophobic, which means it resists fluids. It also tends to hold its structure better than 100% cotton, which is why it can stay wrinkle-free longer.
That hydrophobicity also makes polyester an ideal protective scrub material. For example, it can resist bodily fluids and chemical spills and splatters. This can help protect wearers from contagious diseases and chemical injuries.
A disadvantage of polyester is its lack of breathability due to its tighter weaves. So, it can keep your sweat in and make you feel warmer.
Rayon is a semi-synthetic fiber from regenerated cellulose like bamboo or beech trees. That’s how it can mimic the soft and smooth texture of natural fibers like bamboo, cotton, and linen. It also has a similar absorbency and breathability.
A key advantage of rayon over other natural fibers, especially cotton, is its lower price. However, you get the same drawbacks, such as odor retention and wrinkles.
Spandex is a synthetic, slightly breathable, lightweight fiber known for its incredible elasticity. This characteristic is what lets spandex fibers improve a clothing’s pressure comfort. As a result, garments made of spandex can enhance rather than restrict one’s movements.
That’s also why spandex is the go-to material for active or sportswear. For the same reason, scrubs now contain spandex because of this material’s properties.
However, no medical scrub suit contains 100% spandex since it tends to stick too close to the skin. Spandex-heavy clothing also restricts breathability, making you feel too warm.
The best scrubs feature blends of one or more of the materials discussed above. Some examples include cotton-polyester, polyester-rayon, and polyester-rayon-spandex.
Base your choice on your local climate, work environment, and duties.
For example, cotton-polyester or polyester-rayon may be ideal for hot and dry weather. Likewise, they’re good options for humid work environments or conditions. These blends provide good breathability, moisture-wicking, and fluid resistance.
Some scrubs also contain a low percentage of spandex for flexibility and stretchiness. For example, you may find medical scrubs with 73% polyester, 23% rayon, and 4% spandex.
Pick scrubs with higher polyester content if your work involves fluids or chemicals. Their higher fluid resistance can help protect you better against accidental exposure.
Consider These Factors When Buying Scrubs
Remember that, as a healthcare worker, you may have to work over eight hours a day. For instance, your employer may require overtime of up to four hours. That’s a 12-hour workday every week!
Thus, always consider your comfort and protection when buying scrubs. Doing so can prevent your uniform from adding to your work stress and fatigue. Just make sure you also abide by your employer’s dress code policy.
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