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Why do nurses wear green?

Nurses play a crucial role in the healthcare industry, providing care and support to patients on a daily basis. One thing that people may notice when entering a hospital or healthcare facility is the color of the scrubs worn by nurses. While scrubs come in various colors, it is common to see nurses wearing green. But have you ever wondered why nurses wear green? In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this choice of color, delving into the historical, practical, psychological, cultural, and practical factors that contribute to this tradition.

Historical Background

The switch from traditional white scrubs to green can be traced back to 1914 when a highly influential doctor made a bold decision that would forever change the way surgeons dressed during operations. According to an article published in a 1998 issue of Today’s Surgical Nurse, this doctor opted for green scrubs instead of the commonly worn white garments because he believed it would be easier on his eyes. This choice revolutionized surgical attire and inspired surgeons worldwide to follow suit, gradually replacing their white scrubs with blue or green ones.

Practical Reasoning

The adoption of green scrubs in the medical field is not merely a fashion statement; it has practical implications for those working in surgical and sterile environments. One of the primary reasons for wearing green scrubs is improved visualization during surgical procedures. The color green reduces eye strain, allowing surgeons and nurses to focus on their tasks more effectively. Additionally, the contrast between bodily fluids and green scrubs makes it easier to identify any potential contamination or spills, enabling swift action.

Furthermore, green scrubs enhance visibility in the operating room and other sterile settings. In these environments, cleanliness is of utmost importance, and the color green is believed to be less distracting and more visually pleasing than other colors. This can contribute to a calmer atmosphere and assist in maintaining a sterile environment, promoting patient safety and reducing the risk of infections.

Psychological Effects

Colors have a profound impact on our emotions and psychology. Green, in particular, has been associated with a calming and soothing effect. As nurses interact with patients, the color green can evoke feelings of relaxation and comfort, which can be especially beneficial in high-stress healthcare settings. Patients may subconsciously associate the color green with health, healing, and well-being, leading to a more positive experience during their hospital stay.

Additionally, the wearing of green scrubs by nurses can contribute to the perception of professionalism and competence. The color green is often associated with nature and vitality, creating a sense of trust and assurance in the abilities of healthcare providers. This can help patients feel more confident in their care and foster a sense of security.

Moreover, the choice to wear green scrubs can serve as a visual cue that healthcare professionals prioritize cleanliness and sterility. The color green has long been associated with cleanliness and freshness, further reinforcing the idea that the nursing profession maintains high standards of hygiene and infection control.

Cultural and Traditional Aspects

The significance of the color green extends beyond practical and psychological considerations. In various cultures, green is associated with health, healing, and well-being. For example, in Islamic culture, green is considered a sacred color associated with the Prophet Muhammad. Similarly, in ancient Chinese medicine, green represents balance, harmony, and the growth of life force energy.

Moreover, the wearing of green scrubs by nurses has taken on a symbolic representation of their profession. Nurses are often seen as healthcare providers who nurture and support patients on their healing journey. The color green, with its associations with growth and renewal, aligns with this nurturing role, further reinforcing the image of nurses as caregivers.

Additionally, the tradition of wearing green scrubs among nurses helps to preserve cultural and historical practices within the healthcare community. It serves as a unifying factor, creating a sense of identity and camaraderie among nurses, as well as distinguishing them from other healthcare professionals.

Practical Considerations

The practicality of wearing green scrubs cannot be overlooked. The availability and variety of green scrubs in the healthcare industry make it easy for nurses to find suitable attire. This ensures that individuals can adhere to uniform requirements and maintain a professional appearance.

Furthermore, the choice of green as the standard color for nurses’ scrubs helps with identification and differentiation between various healthcare professionals. In a busy hospital environment, it is essential to be able to quickly identify nurses. This distinction allows patients, colleagues, and visitors to easily recognize who is providing nursing care and who to approach for assistance.

Standardizing the color of scrubs also ensures consistency and professionalism across different healthcare institutions. By having a uniform appearance, nurses present a unified front and demonstrate their commitment to providing quality care.


In conclusion, the choice of nurses to wear green scrubs stems from a combination of historical, practical, psychological, cultural, and practical factors. The switch from white to green scrubs by a visionary doctor in 1914 paved the way for a change in surgical attire globally. The practical advantages of green scrubs, such as improved visualization, better contrast, and increased visibility in sterile environments, make them an ideal choice for healthcare professionals.

The psychological effects of the color green, including its calming and soothing impact on patients and the perception of professionalism and competence it evokes, further contribute to the prevalence of green scrubs among nurses. Additionally, the cultural and traditional associations of green with health, healing, and the nurturing role of nurses add depth to this color choice.

Practically, the availability and variety of green scrubs, as well as their role in identification and standardization, make them a practical choice in the healthcare industry. By understanding and appreciating the significance behind nurses wearing green scrubs, we can gain a deeper understanding of the nursing profession and the care provided by these dedicated healthcare professionals.


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