Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Besides being the name of a fantastic television show, something Beyonce don't want none of, and what a maid does to the floor, "scrubs" are also an essential wardrobe ensemble for the medical profession. You could even consider scrubs the great equalizer; nurses, doctors, techs, physician's assistants, medical assistants, and virtually every other title in the medical profession dons this apparel in one setting or another. Of course, this begs the question: Why are scrubs the one apparel item that don't appear to have been updated since the 1960's?

I mean, if someone to show up in a suit from before 1980, it would be recognizable because the tie would likely be thinner than my pinky, but if someone rolled in with old scrubs I don't think I'd ever notice. The fact is, I've never seen pre-1980 scrubs, but they just seem like a relic. I know that they are extremely functional, not uncomfortable, and at least for nurses, seem a bit more professional than the classic white pleated tennis skirt thing.

However, there are a few unwritten rules for scrubs that I don't understand. They are listed
below in order of decreasing confoundment (that is, the things I understand least are at the top).

Scrub Rule Number One:

"If you are going to have any sort of icon or image on your scrubs, it must a) appear only on the upper 'shirt' portion of the outfit and b) be repeated at least 14,298 times"

My analysis: Why, oh why, do cartoon characters need to be tiled across this garment hundreds of times? I mean, if you are trying to cheer up children, I swear one whinny the pooh will do as many wonders as the eight hundred currently unflatteringly occupying your front, backside, sleeve, and armpit. I am yet to see a single image larger than a quarter on any scrub outfit. Instead cartoons, butterflies, polka-dots, and any other random (yes random) image. Which brings us to . . . .

Scrub Rule Number Two:

"Your scrubs shall not bear any image or representation of anything medical (i.e. a stethoscope, a red cross) barring the exception of a pink heart repeated hundreds of times because they are cute. Furthermore, anything else normally seen such as stripes, different colored sleeves, a small pocket sized logo, and everything that does not fall into the category of 1980 cartoons, fourth-grade female versions of a heart, geometric shapes, or other cutesy things that would be doodled on the pages of a pre-pubescent love struck girl."

Analysis: Pretty self explanatory. I have seen NFL scrubs with a classy single logo on the chest, but those clearly do not conform to these standards. Furthermore, I've seen a couple guys wearing what I call "european" scrubs bucking the next rule with a sort of rounded not-V but not-crew neck and the little slits at the bottom to make them look sort of like they have flares. And while maybe allowable, these scrubs are clearly questionable on a guy. Not that there is anything wrong with that question being answered in the affirmative, it just raises the question.

Scrub Rule Number Three:

"We don't do crew necks"

Anaylsis: Maybe my experience in the scrub world is limited (it undoubtedly is) but seriously, I know the V-neck white T-shirt is strangely trendy right now, but every once and a while it would be nice if I could refrain from "oozing muchismo" in the form of chest hair from the vertex of my V-ed scrubs. It seems more sanitary also.

Scrub Rule Number Four:

"The drawstring to the pants must be exchangable with a shoelace from clown shoes"

Analysis: Maybe this was just my summer experience, but seriously, every time I grabbed a pair of hospital provided scrubs, I had to tie this mammoth knot because the drawstring was as thick as those shoe laces kids practice with on fake cardboard shoes.

Scrub Rule Number Five:

"Under no circumstances are you to be wearing scrubs without some of the accompanying footwear: Crocs, Nike Shox, Dansko Clogs, or maybe Easy Spirts"

Analysis: Seriously, are Nike shox that much more comfortable. Your telling me some Asics wouldn't do the trick? And guys, seriously, I know the Dansko shoes say male on the box, but the size of the sole (and the fact that its a CLOG) says otherwise. Crocs may be the least safe shoe option short of Tevas. I do like Easy Spirits though. I just thought I should throw the over fifty nurses a bone, eh?

Scrub Rule Number Six:

"The following colors are the only acceptable colors: fuscia, vomit green, hot pink (in pants), electric blue, electric green, and anything else that can be found at either a) the glow sticks of a rave party, b) holding a girls hair in a pony tail in the 1980s, or c) gracing the pages of a textbook demonstrating a students added assessment of importance (aka a highlighter)"

Analysis: Ok, I know there are some exceptions; I have seen grey black, navy blue, but the vast majority of scrub colors either shout "HEY I AM IN NEED OF ATTENTION BECAUSE OF MY BRIGHTLY COLORED AND UNFLATTERING CLOTHING" or "I LOOK LIKE VOMIT." Why is that green the customary green color. What happened to white being the image of sterility. I mean, I know the drawbacks are transparent, but seriously. And of course the Whinny the Pooh scrub tops are invariably paired with hot pink scrub pants. I don't get it.

Whew, maybe I waxed a little too philisophically for everyone's good there. I mean, I really don't care what people wear, it just seems like they could make improvements on something so ubiquitous. I guess, however, making something so universally ill-fitting levels the playing field. Scrubs may be the great eqaulizer. What an ideal. Hmm, I guess they may be ahead of their time after all. Besides, I guess anything I can wear at work and then change into at home to sleep in for comfort, shouldn't warrant my complaining.