Shoes to 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 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.

I have recently become a huge fan of Allbirds. They are amazingly comfortable, incredibly light and even after a long call night my feet really don’t hurt.  The website says they can be washed in the washing machine which is obviously a big plus, too!  Other comfortable shoes you might try include  Clarks, Rockport and ecco.

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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 they are the “classic” OR clog..  Sanita clogs are supposedly now made in the original Dansko factory, tend to be a little less expensive and are also loved by many.  Birkenstock or Clarks clogs are alternatives to consider, too. Crocs are tempting but have poor support, minimal ventilation and have been banned in some hospitals.

Try to get shoes that breathe.  Examples include Merrell’s Encore Breeze (a great OR shoe) or Allbirds.  These shoes are not only comfortable, but they can be put in the washing machine (minus the insoles) if they get really dirty at work.

Once you’ve met those criteria, lighter is better.

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.

6 thoughts on “Shoes to Wear in the Hospital

  1. nice recs! one thing to consider for safety may be to go with something that has a little more leather on the top of the shoe (protect the feet from stubbed toes, dropped sharp instruments and needles). I like my sanita clogs with an athletic shoe insert (buy the clogs a 1/2 size too big and use the inserts). Find them on amazon or google shopper for best deal.

  2. Actually, OSHA does not have any prohibition on open-toe shoes in a healthcare setting. The requirements are protection from exposure to blood borne pathogens. OSHA states that ANY street shoe does not meet requirements for PPE. The employor must provide shoe covers to ensure compliance. Further, the foot ware guidelines published by OSHA address protection from crush, electrical and piercing of the sole. Most standard foot ware does not meet ANSI requirements and therefore are not compliant with OSHA standards. The shoes you reference may meet a misguided hospital policy but do not comply with OSHA.

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