Why Your Image as a Nurse Matters

Nurse Scrubs

When one’s uniform is primarily scrubs, lowering the standards of appearance is a few short steps in the wrong direction. Nobody sets out on a given day to look like a slob, but if one’s uniform will soil before the end of the day what’s the motivation for arriving dressed to impress?

It turns out, there are many reasons a nurse should care about image, and image is about more than clean scrubs. A nurse’s image will usually fall under the purview of a hospital or clinic’s dress code policies, but it’s also a reflection of the most important asset any individual takes to work. Their reputation. One’s image is more than clean clothes and hair. It’s the total impression of that individual.

A perfectly well-groomed nurse could have a reputation as a slimy individual for inappropriate behavior at work. Whether the implication is one’s dependability, character or cleanliness, image is the overall way others think about us.

Perceptions about your image start with the way you think about the person in the mirror. That self-talk influences how others perceive you too. Perceptions of your image move in a circle and pull in more than just clothing and cleanliness, but those perceptions all start with you.


Understand Employer Mandates Rule
An easy way to shorten this conversation is to assert that most employers expect one to keep a tidy image. Employees have rights, but the right to keep a disheveled or bizarre appearance is not usually one of them.

Like the players of a pro sports team, employees represent a larger group of professionals. The name on your name tag comes second to the name on the front of the building. Most hospitals or clinics outline clear-cut appearance standards, and those standards tend to fall on the side of conservative.

Times may have changed in many professional environments with Casual Fridays and such, but they haven’t changed so much in the medical field.  Patients arrive in hospitals with endless anxieties piled on their shoulders. The smallest aberration can set them off.
It’s in the best interest of the hospital and everyone on the team to create an overall comfortable environment for patients. That means every professional, nurse or otherwise, must look approachable. But don’t manage your image because the employee handbook says you should.


Consider Your Reputation Amongst Peers
Imagine for a minute that the larger organization of your employer didn’t have strict rules about appearance. What do your peers think about your image at work? What about the way you treat others? That’s part of your image too. For some people, the way you treat others is the most important reflection of your image. The way others perceive us matters.

Here are some quick hits which will ensure you have an impeccable image on all fronts:

⦁ Take care of your personal hygiene and wear clean scrubs
⦁ Keep your makeup and hairstyle smart and professional
⦁ Avoid strong perfumes or colognes
⦁ Keep personal relationships outside of work.
⦁ Keep your mind the needs of your peers more, less on your insecurities.
⦁ Always be on time and over-prepared for the expectations of your job.


Drive the Wheel of Self-Perception
Despite the weightiness of the previous sections, this one covers the most important concept to understand.

Everything else aside, your image improves your self-esteem in the long run. With confidence, you are more likely to ask the right questions at the right time. As such, the people around you (employers, peers, and patients) will respect you more.

The way others feel about you affects the way they treat you. That spins the wheel of how you feel about your job, yourself, and your life. Do you see where this is going?

The way you feel about your job, and your life will, in turn, affect the way you comport yourself. The self-image wheel spins full circle, but here’s the thing; you control the most important part of the wheel.

Others can take issue with you, even try to hurt you or your reputation, but nobody can help you start this wheel in motion. It’s you driving your image from the start.

Remember, every day you start fresh, building a better image or hurting the one you had. You pick. Developing your image is both a long term and daily project.


  1. Woah, amazing i keep learning something new each day. Thanks joyce

  2. Vanya says:

    Thank you for the article that was very good for me!

    • Joyce says:

      I’m happy you found it helpful.