Footwear for Healthcare Workers: The Basics

Footwear for Healthcare Workers-- The BasicsHealthcare workers make a living taking care of others, but it’s important for healthcare workers to remember to take care of themselves, too.

This week, we’ll start to explore some of the ways that RTG Medical healthcare travelers can stay healthy on the job, starting from the bottom up: footwear.

Nurses and other medical professionals spend a tremendous amount of time on their feet. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), the average American logs 75,000 foot-miles by age 50, so imagine what an average hospital or health worker must accumulate during all those long shifts!

Just by wearing appropriate shoes, you can alleviate foot pain, increase your stamina, prevent back problems, and even prevent slips and falls.

There is no one-size-fits-all footwear solution for healthcare workers, and the very topic generates some lively debate from diehard brand and product loyalists. To start the process of choosing the best shoes for the job, it’s important to consider a couple of basic factors:

  • Do you do more walking or standing?
    A scrub nurse will probably be more stationary than a CNA, for instance, and will need a shoe designed more for standing than for continuous walking (and vice versa).
  • What are your feet’s unique characteristics or problems?
    If you have flat arches, unusually wide or narrow feet, or other foot issues, you’ll want to make sure to choose footwear that suits those conditions. Shoes that do not fit properly can aggravate (or even cause) anything from common annoyances like blisters and ingrown toenails, to more serious problems that must be corrected surgically.

Some of the top brands of nursing shoes include Dansko, Nurse Mates, Alegria, Crocs, and New Balance, and there are three basic styles that each have their selling points:

  • Athletic shoes: They’re easy to find, comfortable for nearly every type of foot, appropriate for all weather conditions, and durable. Because their uppers are made of cloth components, athletic shoes are absorbent and breathable. An abundance of style options are available for both women and men, and you can wear athletic shoes outside of work, too.
  • Crocs: These lightweight shoes are popular outside of medical facilities, and their biggest advantage is that they are easily washable (some models can even be sterilized). Many designs are unisex, so they work for either men or women, and they now come in many colors and patterns.
  • Nursing shoes or nursing clogs: These shoes are made for prolonged standing and walking, and cover a spectrum of styles from clogs, to slip-ons, to lace-ups. No longer just basic white, they come in black and other colors, and even funky prints like leopard and geometrics and cool metallic finishes.

Don’t despair if you don’t find the ideal on-the-job shoe right away. It may take some trial and error to find the right brand and style, and you may need insoles, orthotics, compression socks or athletic socks before you can put your best foot forward.

But soon enough, you’ll be walking into your next RTG Medical assignment with confidence (and with the right footwear).

photo credit: looseends via photopin cc

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