What kind of shoes should you wear in the hospital?

I got home recently after a 14 hour day in the operating room with (predictably) a pair of really tired feet, which lead me to think about shoes, foot rubs, and the fact that no one ever talked to me about this in my training.

What kind of shoes should you wear in the hospital?

There’s a lot of walking in the hospital, but there’s even more standing.  Running shoes don’t provide the right kind of support for standing, which means your feet will suffer if that’s what you wear.

It goes without saying that you should not wear open toed shoes in the hospital.  It’s not only against the rules, but it’s going to gross you out one day.

Basic concepts to choose good shoes for work in the hospital

  • Look for good support.  The classic “nursing” or “operating room” shoe exists for a reason – they are designed to provide the support your feet need during long days of standing and walking.
  • If you are not in scrubs, you’ll still need OSHA compliant, comfortable shoes.  They can be stylish, but make sure they fit the overall professional image you are trying to achieve. Check out San Antonio Shoes (SAS), Clarks, Rockport and Ecco.
  • If you will be standing for long periods on rounds or in procedures, think about getting shoes that slip on and off.  When you are standing for a long time, being able to slide out of your shoes becomes important.  If you’ve been standing for hours it really helps to stretch your calves and change the pressure points.  It’s also easier to step out of your shoes all together and stand barefoot for a little while.  When you are sitting, you can slip them off and let your feet breathe. Dansko Professional clogs are expensive but are probably the best in this class.  Sanita clogs are supposedly now made in the original Dansko factory.  Birkenstock, Keen or Clarks clogs are good alternatives. Crocs are tempting but have poor support, minimal ventilation and have been banned in some hospitals.
  • Try to get shoes that breathe.  You can find shoes that are like clogs in their design, but are made of materials that breathe.  Examples include Merrell’s Encore Breeze (my current personal preference).  They are not only comfortable, but they can be put in the washing machine (minus the insoles) if they get really dirty at work.
  • Cheaper is good, too. One lead from studentdoctor.net is footprints.com.

Long days standing at work also make for stinky feet.  Just like long-distance runners, you have to learn some tricks to deal with this.

  1. Have more than one pair of good shoes and alternate them.
  2. Don’t buy cheap socks. Wicking socks like Balega socks are worth the price.
  3. Take an extra pair of socks with you for long days and change them in the middle of the day.

Foot massage, pedicures, and other foot care

After work, in terms of “bang for the buck” there is nothing that will make you feel better than a little attention to your tired feet.

Use a good foot scrub in the bath or shower like Bath and Body Toe the Line of The Body Shop’s peppermint scrub.

Take 10 minutes and try some methods to soothe tired feet.  If you are lucky enough to have a significant other who will rub your feet … congratulations!  (and, by the way, it really is “true love”…)

Even if you are a guy – don’t blow off pedicures.  If you’ve had one, you know.  If you haven’t, try it before you decide.

Mary L. Brandt is Professor and Vice Chair, Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery, Baylor College of Medicine and blogs at Wellness Rounds.

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  • http://twitter.com/KathyAMorelli Kathy Morelli, LPC

     I  always wore Danskos when I worked in a hospital!

    • Anonymous

      For anyone interested, look into slip last vs board last shoe construction. Slip last is superior, although not necessarily more expensive. Many of the most POPular shoes are board last and merely cosmetic. Really good socks do make a difference. Look for them in mountaineering shops. If you suffer from cold feet, try light weight poly liner socks under a vapor barrier and an outer sock. Or, apply perfume free lotion, then the vapor barrier and outer sock. Rotate shoes, giving them all some time off. Soothe feet in a quality spa foot bath, followed by an alcohol rub on the dry feet. Wear socks to bed to keep them warm and aid circulation. 

      vitaminlee

  • Anonymous

    I’ve discovered a true all-day shoe.  The name is OESH and a doctor from UVA designed the shoe after years of research. After a total knee replacement I had a lot of trouble finding the right shoe and regaining a walking gait.  These shoes have made a remarkable difference in my lifestyle.