Shoes to Wear in the Hospital

02 Aug 2013

by Mary L. Brandt, M.D.

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 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.

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.

Cross-posted on August 14, 2011 at

What shoes do you wear around the hospital? How do you take care of yourself after being on your feet all day? We would love to know. Share with us in the comments below!

Mary L. Brandt, M.D. is a professor of Surgery, Pediatrics, and Medical Ethics at Baylor College of Medicine and a practicing pediatric surgeon at Texas Children’s Hospital. She is involved in education on a day-to-day basis in her clinical work. She also thinks about medical education on a bigger scale through her work as Vice Chair of Education of the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery and Associate Dean of Student Affairs at Baylor College of Medicine. She is an active participant in the blog-o-sphere and on Twitter

2 Replies to “Shoes to Wear in the Hospital”

  1. For the OR, I love my Birki’s. I bought them right after I found out I matched into neurosurgery, and they’ve been faithful through the years. You can scrub them, disinfect, even autoclave them (minus the removable cork footbed). I finally replaced the footbed last year and from a comfort point of view, they’re like new (few scuffs and stains notwithstanding.)

    I agree with Clark’s. Generally quite good-looking, and amazingly comfortable, to the point I haven’t gotten rid of the pair I ruined in an unexpected emergency trip to the OR last year (yes, I had booties on, but there was enough blood it got inside them and the stains won’t come out) and instead wear them for hiking, gardening, etc. I also have a pair of Aerosoles I got on sale, not fantastic quality materials but high on both style and comfort. As for fancier days, I highly recommend Miz Mooz. They feel like the heels are half as high as they really are; I’ve stood around, walked between hospitals, spent all day in clinic and even done procedures in mine. Plus, they get more compliments than literally anything else I wear.

  2. Great advice! After a recurrent right foot ligament injury and with bilateral plantar fasciitis I have found that Dansko makes the perfect footbed for me. I wear their Professional clogs in the OR and their patent leather Mary-Janes in the office (with my Betabrand dress yoga pants). The best piece if advice is to find your perfect fit-return anything that proves to be uncomfortable.

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