By Shana McLaughlin
They are baggy, unflattering, and usually covered in any and all bodily fluids and diseases. Yet, when I tied their drawstring into a crisp bow around my waist and hung the ironed shirt over my shoulders I felt like I could conquer the world, or at least my first nursing clinical.
The scrubs are blue and grey, and fashion the Georgetown seal over our hearts. Our shoes will blind you from yards away as their white leather reflects the sunlight directly into your eyes. And, a stethoscope hangs around each of our necks to contribute to the professional look despite the fact that we don’t’ have the slightest clue as to how to use it to hear a heartbeat. We look the part, but we don’t fill it. We are freshman year nursing students learning the basics: how to interview the patient, how check their pulse, and how to look for bumps on their head that could be suspicious. Our knowledge stops there; we really couldn’t help you anymore than the average accounting student or the next history major in the college. But, you wouldn’t know that from our uniform.
There is no doubt that a woman in a suit looks powerful, ready to take on challenges thrown her way and to conquer the world of business, but there is a different air to a woman in scrubs. The shapeless pants and amorphous top are symbols of her selflessness, her compassion to others, and her dedication to putting someone else’s life ahead of her own. Scrubs say more about her than simply her medical expertise. They represent her years of schooling, waking up at ungodly hours for her clinical, and the countless sleepless nights she spent studying for her NCLEX exam; with each and every action being one aimed toward altruistic devotion to others. I think there is something to a woman in scrubs that you won’t find in anyone else. Her outfit tells us that she has deserved her status and is highly skilled at her job; scrubs do not come easily, and represent dedication, not only to her but the countless patients whose lives she has touched. No longer do you find the medical woman dressed in candy stripes or long skirts to match their cap. Today, they mesh into the network of pants and sneakers in the hospital halls, no different than their male counterparts. The women doctors and nurses fill the same roles, pass the same tests, and subsequently wear the same dress. The scrubs she wears today represents the advancement of women in her field, while also highlighting her own success and power. She has come a long way to stand here today: proud and poised in knowledge, ability, and her baggy, monochromic uniform.
As a freshman, I am pretty removed from the real world. It’s easy to become absorbed in the hype on campus or stress of midterms, and the only thing that feels real and important is the 9 a.m. class you are running late for. I fall victim to this. Georgetown is a bubble of sorts; my reality is within the gates and the only thing in my field of vision is the next test I need to ace. The problem is that I forget why I need to ace it in the first place. But, as I am walking across the medical campus towards biology lab, I pass a group of nurses walking out of the cancer center each dressed in matching scrubs and white lab jackets and I am reminded of who I am here to become. Day by day I am getting closer to that uniform. I am getting closer to becoming the person I aspire to be: a strong, compassionate woman who has the power to change the lives of each patient that comes into her life. All things scrubs embody.
Scrubs aren’t just a functional outfit choice; they are a symbol of altruism and empathy that empower women in the medical field. I am reminded of my future in which I become an influential woman in medicine. And, when I see the business student in her impressive and professional suit pass by, I can’t help but first feel grateful I have the comfier outfit between the two of us. And second, I think of how different our choices have been, evident only from what we wear. The world needs both of us: the woman in a suit and the woman in scrubs. But, I feel blessed to be in the scrubs.