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Healthcare Workers: Three Considerations To Help You Choose The Right Work Shoe

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Medical professionals have physically demanding jobs. Doctors, nurses, therapists and other members of the health care team work nights and days, twelve or more hours at a time, and much of that time is spent standing. As you might expect, standing for lengthy periods of time can play havoc with your feet, so choosing the right shoe is imperative for health care professionals. Below are some three considerations to help you choose a medical shoe that will fit your specific needs:

Ease of wear

When choosing shoes, an important consideration is the ease at which they can be put on and removed. This may be trivial if you don't have an opportunity to sit on your job; however, most healthcare professionals experience some moments of sitting, even if it is just for a few minutes at a time to update patient charts. This time is ideal for removing your shoes to permit your feet a chance to stretch and breathe. Airing out your shoes on a consistent basis will help prevent odor buildup from becoming a problem, and you can also prevent corns, hammer toes and blisters by giving your feet a break from these confining quarters.

Just as important as being able to easily take off your shoes is getting them on again without a struggle. The last thing you want is to be presented with an emergency that demands a quick response and be caught fumbling around while trying to get your shoes on again. Lace-up shoes make this impractical and you should avoid them if possible.

However, one word of caution should be offered here: some individuals with exceptionally narrow feet may experience difficulty wearing slip on shoes. If that's the case, lace-up shoes may be your best option to provide the most support for your feet. However, you may wish to consider purchasing elastic laces that can be left permanently tied; they might offer you an acceptable compromise between ease of wear and support.


Another important factor is to purchase shoes that offer you a durable material resistant to the toils and rigors of the healthcare environment. Undoubtedly, the most durable of shoe materials is leather, and it can also protect your feet from a number of external hazards including bodily fluids, needle sticks and other potential dangers. Leather can be easily cleaned in most cases, and it can be polished to renew its looks and lifespan.

However, though leather is often a perfect material for professional footwear, there are a couple of disadvantages that may come to into play concerning leather shoes. First, leather has absorbent properties, and consistent exposure to wet environments may cause leather shoes to soak up moisture. The good news is this can usually be counteracted by polishing your shoes often to build-up a water-resistant layer and also drying them out promptly after exposure to liquids.

Another possible disadvantage concerns your personal values: if you object to the use of animals for leather, then your convictions may not allow you to wear them without experiencing emotional discomfort. If this is true for you, find an alternative to wear; you will be happier and provide better care in the long run if you don't need to struggle with your guilt about wearing leather.


The conversation about shoes and support can become complicated, but the reality is there is no such thing as a one-size, fits-all approach to shoe support. Shoes are made for a variety of purposes, and no shoe can fulfill all possible roles, including providing the specific kind of support needed.

For example, athletic or tennis shoes are often chosen by healthcare professionals based on their potential to provide cushioned support. They make an ideal choice for runners who need maximum protection from the blows of the pavement to their feet. However, healthcare professionals seldom spend much time running, and that makes athletic shoes a poor choice for day-to-day work in healthcare. That cushioned support so highly-coveted by athletes will cause foot, ankle, knee, hip and back pain among healthcare workers.

For most healthcare professionals, it is wise to choose a shoe that provides firm support and keeps the foot in a healthy position. Firm plastic-soled shoes can excel in this role, as they don't give-out under the strain of standing and keep the wearer's feet in an appropriately neutral position. Several types of shoes can provide this specific style of support, but the time-tested clog is still one of the best choices available. Traditional clogs are made with wooden soles, but modern clogs use hard synthetic materials to provide the firm support needed.