Geisinger's new nurse dress code inspired by patient feedback

Mark Williams, nursing operations manager, Geisinger Shamokin Area Community Hospital, wears Geisinger's uniform for registered nurses.

Geisinger Medical Center will no longer allow its nurses to wear casual clothing to work after a patient survey revealed a decline in the professional appearance of its nursing staff.  

The 505-bed hospital in central northeast Pennsylvania decided to reconsider its dress code after patients said they weren't sure how to identify different levels of nurses and nursing staff also expressed concern that some nurses wore informal attire, such as hoodies, leggings, fleece jackets and t-shirts. 

But the need for a single dress code became evident when a survey of 400 patients found that many patients couldn't distinguish between a registered nurse, licensed practical nurse or nursing assistant. The process of how Geisinger revised its dress code based on evidence-based standards is outlined in an article published by The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing.


Mark Williams, nursing operations manager at Geisinger Shamokin Area Community Hospital, wears Geisinger's uniform for registered nurses in the photo above. - Photo Courtesy Geisinger Health System


Part of the problem, the study found, was due to the fact that the organization had 70 different dress code policies. Patients indicated in the surveys that they wanted all nurses to dress the same, but were divided as to whether they preferred uniforms in solid colors or patterns. However, they were very clear that they didn't like nurses to wear t-shirts with pictures or sayings.

After the study, Geisinger consolidated the various dress codes into a single uniform policy, which now requires registered nurses to wear pewter gray and white scrubs embroidered with “Registered Nurse” and the system logo. Nurses will also be able to have certification initials embroidered on the left sleeve of the uniform. 

"Our goal was to increase our understanding of patient perceptions regarding the professional image of nurses at Geisinger Medical Center," co-author Crystal Muthler, R.N., chief nursing officer and vice president of nursing at Geisinger, said in a statement. "We continuously strive to improve the patient and family experience. When the patients and families responded, we listened."

Patient considerations are becoming more important to hospital operations. As in the case of the Geisinger survey, more and more hospital leaders directly incorporate patient voices and those of their family in responding to healthcare experience concerns, FierceHealthcare previously reported

- read the study
- here’s the statement