To Scrub or not to Scrub? Why did we really launch the designer 21 Scrubs?

There is a recent long debate on what is the best medical attire to wear amongst medical professionals, from veterinarians, dentists, GPs, nurses and specialists.

It has become almost a culture in the vet industry to wear scrubs daily, from when we leave vet school to when we come out in practice, its scrubs day in and day out.

Recently with more corporate vet practices, we have been seeing more formal attire uniforms consisting of collared shirts and smart pants, especially amongst vets. This certainly looks smarter, but is it practical? Does it instil trust and professionalism necessarily?

 As a full time vet for the last 18 years, I have a love hate relationship with scrubs. When I graduated scrubs were a one-size, unisex, baggy-fit style for all. In many practices, both vets and nurses wore these and this did create a uniform equal appearance amongst staff and served to be very practical for our line of work.

 I spend most of my workday crouched on the floor, bent over and covered in fur. Scrubs do feel very comfortable, they are literally what I would want to wear at home lazing around doing housework! But with no delineation between what I wear at home and at work, it does start to feel a bit drab. If you think what you wear doesn’t determine how your feel, the best way to analogise this is, I sometimes feel like I’ve walked into a party wearing a tracksuit.

 What I love about scrubs whilst I’m at work is that our job entails a lot of drool, blood, hair and bodily fluids, so having ‘ugly scrubs’ meant I didn’t really care that much if it was dirty at the end of the day. I also loved not having to think of what to wear every day, just slip on my comfy uniform and off I go.

 The downside of all of this practicality is the way it made me feel throughout my career. 18 years ago as a young looking female new graduate, the baggy ill-fitting scrubs made me look younger and less ‘neat’ at work. I constantly felt that it was harder to exude professionalism and trust when the work outfit made me look younger, this on top of being a new grad made it tougher. Would putting on a more formal attire have made me feel like I looked older and more trustworthy/professional? I think so! As superficial as it sounds (which is why I never said anything), I think dressing the part would have made me feel the part.

 As I got older and became a working mum, I didn’t care so much about looking professional and older... I was older! I had earnt a following and reputation at work and what I wore didn’t matter so much. However, what I did start to notice at school pick-ups was how pyjama like my scrubs work attire looked. With other mums turning up in suits and formal attire and me running in with trainers and baggy scrubs (covered in stains and fur), I certainly did feel underdressed and ‘dirty’. Never mind the fact I was a ‘Doctor’, I did not feel I looked the part. This was something I never really voiced, in fact I always made fun of it with friends saying I was the mum turning up to school in pyjamas or I looked like the ‘homeless’ mum.

 2020 comes along and I started to notice smart scrubs hitting the US market. This was exciting! If we could have a scrub for all the reasons I loved; ease, comfort, practicality, but also look formal, neat and professional, that would be my dream work wear!

This was a game changer. We could dress better, feel better, be proud to walk out of work and look the part. We worked so hard to become a Veterinarian/Doctor/Dentist we deserve it right?

 I contacted my fashion guru friend, Rebecca Lau. She had just sold her successful fashion business and I wanted to pick her brain on formal scrubs, could we make them EVEN better, could they be fashionable, practical, even better hair proof and stain proof???

 Fast forward to mid 2021 and our company 21 Scrubs was born. In the height of a COVID Pandemic, at a time where it was more important than ever to appreciate and love all our Essential workers and medical professionals risking their health to continue saving lives.

Together us 3 mums designed formal scrubs, well fitted and professional looking.  I feel smart and professional in our scrubs every day, my staff are in love with the new look and what’s better, we released the FIRST EVER hair proof and water/stain repellent designer scrub line worldwide. I am PROUD. Yes, there are copycats hitting the market now and it can be tough to watch, but also humbling, if you produce a product that works, that’s needed… Hey no doubt its going to be copied.

 

Our scrubs are designed by people in the industry who know what works. Who wear the scrubs every day and go out after work and pick up their kids or meet friends. We work long hours and are on the floor, in surgery, covered in who knows what by the end of the day. But you know what? I can get out of work and look like how I walked in in the morning. Clean, professional and dare I say, a little sexy ;)

 

Written by Dr Audrey Shen for Vet Answers Magazine July 2023

 

August 16, 2023 — 21 Scrubs