My shoes may be the most important part of my uniform. Most nurses spend their shifts walking from patient to patient. We can spend 12 hours pacing the hospital floor. My shoes can make or break my shift.
There are days when I come back from a 12-hour shift and my joints are aching. My knees are on fire, and my feet are tender. And don’t even get me started on my back pain. But a good pair of shoes can help prevent this type of discomfort.
Needless to say, I’m incredibly picky about my shoes. I look for a comfortable, lightweight clog that will keep up with the demands of my day. It’s not unusual for me to walk 10 miles in a single shift. So let’s dive into what types of shoes nurses should wear to limit the wear and tear on their bodies during those long shifts.
Best Nursing Shoes
What Shoes Are Nurses Wearing?
I chatted with other nurses to see what they looked for in a shoe. Most of them wanted a comfortable shoe that was water-resistant. You never know when you’re going to get something spilled on you at the bedside.
Nurses also wanted:
Check out what nurses said about their favorite shoes.
Gretchen Quiteles, BSN, RN wanted a shoe that had “comfort and bounce. I've rotated On Cloud, Hokas, and Brooks. I loved each pair!” That bounce helped Gretchen keep the pep in her step well into her 12-hour day shift.
Gerald Lambert, RN, BSN mentioned, “Hoka’s One is the best! They provide arch support for flat feet. versus other shoes. They have a really thick midsole which reduces the impact on my joints. I can go a full 12-hour shift without sore feet.” Hoka’s adds the extra support nurses need to cushion the impact walking on hospital floors has on joints.
Erin Glen swears by Birkenstock clogs. “ I prefer both arch support and easy to clean. My favorite nursing shoes to date are my rubber Birkenstock clogs. A lot of people aren't a fan because they are wide and can be a little loose, but that is why my fat wide feet love them! I love how Birkenstocks form to your feet.” I have a pair of Birkenstock clogs, and they’re my favorite shoes. I can attest that they are incredibly forgiving for nurses with wide feet.
Lauren Dessoye, RN, has a recommendation for people with flat feet. “Brook’s Adrenaline GTS is the best for flat feet!!! They have an amazing cushion! They also have a stabilizer bar in them to keep your feet from overpronation, which is the cause of most knee and leg pain in people with flat feet. I also wear these running! Great shoe for both work and play.”
Do Nurses Have to Wear White Shoes?
Nurses don’t have to wear white shoes. Your facility will decide what your uniform will be. Some healthcare facilities require white shoes. Others will leave the choice up to you. It’s common for nursing programs to require white shoes for clinical rotations.
White shoes are a tradition in healthcare. At one point, nurses wore all white as the preferred uniform. Your patients can quickly recognize you based on your scrubs and crisp, white shoes. It promotes an image of a clean, uniformed healthcare professional.
Any fluids will stand out against your shoes' bright white background. This makes it easier to see when you need to clean them. You should be disinfecting your shoes at least once a shift. This reduces the risk of transmitting pathogens from one area to another.
Can Nurses Wear Lace-up Sneakers?
Nurses can wear sneakers in most healthcare facilities. Administrators have acknowledged the challenges around balancing comfort and infection protocol. Sneakers are becoming more common. However, clogs have been the traditional footwear choice for most nurses.
Clogs are easier to disinfect than sneakers. Sneakers have laces that are hard to clean. Pathogens can become trapped in the crevices where the laces overlap. When you disinfect a sneaker, you need to make sure you unlace and carefully disinfect the porous laces. Traditionally, white clogs are the number one nursing shoe.
The color of the shoe should never play a role in the type of shoe that you choose. A white shoe or a black shoe of the same design will always provide the same amount of comfort.
So we went over what nurses want in a shoe. We want durable, light weight, easy to clean clogs or sneakers. Let’s cover the 8 best white shoes for nurses with these qualities in mind.
8 Nurse Approved Shoes
1. Hawkwell Women's Lightweight Comfort Slip-Resistant Nursing Shoes
These Hawkwell shoes have everything a nurse could dream of. These nursing shoes are lightweight, comfortable, and water-resistant. Fluids are no match for these white clogs!
The yoga foam insoles provide all-day and night comfort for walking on hard floors. They’re lightweight, but shock absorbent. You’ll barely notice that you spent your entire shift standing for long periods.
2. Crocs UniSex Bistro Work Clog
Crocs are lightweight nursing shoes. The rugged material is easy to clean and fashionable. If durability is important, look no further. These Crocs are built to last.
Spilled fluids on the floor? No problem, these clogs are water-resistant and slip-resistant shoes. Plus they can help you stand comfortably on those unforgiving concrete floors.
3. Dansko Women's Professional Clog-Slip on
These Dansko clogs have exceptional arch support for flat feet and plantar fasciitis. These supportive shoes have a padded instep collar for those long shifts. The rocker-bottom design initiates the next step by propelling your foot forward. So, nurses can use less energy while walking on those hard floors.
They’re 100% imported leather, so they’re fashionable and easy to clean. The foam foot bed helps with shock absorption. This reduces the stress of walking and running for hours. Your body will thank you after a long shift.
I have wide feet, so I’m particularly partial to these shoes. It’s really hard to find shoes that fit wide feet comfortably. If I can’t find a wide shoe, my shoes end up ripping at the seams in a few months.
4. Gales Frontline Nurse Shoes
Gales come highly recommended by some of the nurses I spoke with. They seem to be a crowd favorite. So what makes Gales the sought-after shoe for nurses?
These are comfortable, supportive nursing shoes. They’re durable, while still being extra light and soft. According to Sara Fung, RN, BSN, they “fit like a glove”.
They’re made with fluid-repellent material, which means you don’t have to worry about stains. Plus, they’re easy to clean. You can throw these shoes right in your washing machine at the end of your shift.
5. Anywear Journey Nurse Shoes
The Anywear Journey Nurse shoes offer increased breathability to help during those long, busy shifts. Plus, they’re slip resistant and lightweight. I love lightweight shoes because it takes less energy to lift my foot step after step. After I hit the 5th mile in my shift, my feet are dragging. The lighter the footwear, the easier it is for me to continue through my shift.
6. OOFOS Women's Slip-on Sneaker
When I’m walking for hours on hard floors, breathability is key. That’s where the OOFOS Slip-on Sneakers come in. The mesh fabric has a four-way stretch, making this shoe lightweight and flexible for wide feet.
The foam technology in their patented foot bed makes this a highly-supportive shoe. The cushioning insoles work as shock absorption. These shoes provide foot pain relief by cushioning the joints in your feet and back.
7. StickyPRO Non-Slip Work Shoes
Slip ons are popular in the medical field The StickyPRO non-slip work shoes are made of lightweight, breathable thermoplastic rubber. Plus they’re easy to clean and waterproof. At the end of your shift, you can just wipe down the surface of your clogs. If durability is important, this is the shoe for you.
8. Avia Avi-Union II Non-Slip Shoes
The Avia Avi-Union II Non-slip shoes are a bit different from the other ones on the list. They come in lace-up and velcro closure styles. The lace-up style may make it easier to tighten and loosen the shoe to get that perfect fit.
These are one of the only shoes on the list that come in wide. If you’re wide-footed like me, you know how hard it is to find high-quality wide shoes. They have a removable memory foam insole to help provide a personalized fit.
The Nurses Sole Mate
Nurses of all types take a beating, from migraines and emotional turmoil to joint and feet pain. Some of the pain and discomfort comes from the harsh demands of the job itself. Nurses are the primary career industry which suffers the most career-based injuries.
However, most of those are easily controlled and avoidable. Spills, misplaced or fallen items, and loose cords are prime causes of accidents in which the responsibility lies in the hands of the facility. However nurses themselves can cause their own injuries as well. How? By wearing the wrong shoes. Feet act as the base of the human body. They take the majority of the stress and strain, especially during high pressure or fast moving work shifts. Wear the wrong shoes in any situation and pain and discomfort is bound to happen. But in the case of medical professionals, that simple mistake can be a matter of life and death.
Finding a comfortable shoe is a task that most people find distasteful. This is because you can spend hours searching and still not find what you are looking for. While most of these products are available online, it is best to narrow your choice down in your mind. So you like slip-on or lace-up shoes? Do you like leather or synthetic shoes? With a shortened list available, the process of selecting the perfect pair becomes so much easier.
Another thing that you should keep in mind is that it is always better to buy shoes that you have tried on. So if you can go to a nearby shop and try on the different models, then don’t hesitate. It will help you understand which shoe suits you best and which shoes makes you feel comfortable. If you already have tried them on and know the answer to all those questions with certainty, then there is no harm in ordering them online. The above list of the most comfortable nursing shoes are among the best options for your most challenging career needs. At the end of the day… The choice is yours!