If there is one rotation that breeds anxiety in medical students it is the surgery rotation. Maybe it is the reputation, maybe it is the hours, maybe it is that you will be in this new and strange place known as the operating room. Regardless, I’ve fielded many “how should I prepare for my surgical rotation” questions. Although it should be near the bottom of the list, one question that seems to pop-up often is “what are the best shoes for the operating room?”
In reality you can get away with wearing anything on your feet as long as they are unsoiled. Some ORs also have rules regarding ventilation holes so you might want to check that out. It may seem silly to buy a specialized pair of shoes for one rotation but if you add in Ob/gyn that is at least 12 weeks of your life (plus any electives) that you will be in these dogs. Let’s take a look at the options. The pics all link out to Amazon if you want to check out pricing/further reviews.
A perennial favorite, there certainly ain’t nothing wrong with a comfortable pair of running/walking shoes. They are versatile, breathable and if you get the right pair, comfortable. I find that these are great for rotations when I am running around a lot. However, for standing for a long time they leave something to be desired. I am sure if I tried enough styles I could probably come up with something that worked. However, there are better options out there. You also should consider the permeability factor. Shit (sometimes literally) can get nasty in the OR. The thought of that slowly seeping through the leather top sole of my sneakers and feeling my socks become increasingly moist is not something I look forward to.
These aren’t as popular as some of the other options but they are my personal favorite. I could literally stand in these all day long without becoming uncomfortable. These are composed of a hard rubber outer sole containing the cork foot bed* that has made Birkenstock so famous.They are comfortable to walk around the hospital in too and are easy to slip in and out of. The one major issue they have is ventilation. My feet get hotter than two rats in a wool sock when I wear these things. By the end of the day there is often a noticeable dew on the inside. By the end of a 24 hour shift… let’s not go there. Suffice it to say with all that sweating going on they can get rather stinky. When they get real bad I would liken it to the smell of a diabetic foot wound. It IS NOT pleasant and Mrs. Survivor DO has instructed that these are to be left at the hospital or in the garage.
By far the most popular shoe in the hospital. There must be a reason right? They are liked by nurses, medicine attendings and surgeons alike. These things come in a variety of styles and I think Mrs. Survivor DO has one of each. She swears by them and has encouraged my to try a pair as well. I have resisted until this point because they are so friggen queer-looking. However, with the leather upper they are more breathable and the hard sole gives them excellent arch support. I think it may be time for me to break down and try a pair. It would be nice to be able to take off my shoes without clearing out the entire room!
With a name like Jungle Moc these must be impressive shoes. My first thought was yes, impressively ugly. However, I kept seeing them around the hospital! I did a little research and they receive rave reviews from their supporters. For a shoe, which is very user dependent, to have 4.6/5.0 stars on Amazon is quite impressive. They come in a variety of colors from a grey suede to tan leather and come in any size imaginable including kids. In talking with my colleagues they say that they are breathable, easy to stand in and feel like slippers on your feet. All great things when looking for the best shoe for the operating room! These are high on my list for my next pair of shoes.
I see a lot of these around the operating room mostly by the old school surgeons. Reportedly these clogs will last for 10 or more years even with steady use. People I have talked to say they are super comfortable for standing in the OR and not bad to mosey around the hospital in. The are available with or without ventilation holes so you will have to weigh which you prefer; the foot rot phenomenon I experienced with the Birkis or the possible seepage of bodily fluid while you innocently retract in the OR . I am thinking about trying these once the stench of my Birkis becomes intolerable. I’ll probably go with the vented version for the above reason.
I’ve seen a number of surgical, mostly trauma, attendings wearing these and I gotta say, I’d love to give it a shot. They are pretty badass and by all accounts comfortable. If you think about it, it makes sense. There are thousands of people who do much more manly work than we do that wear these every day. Additionally, they are slip on and breathable. But, and it’s a big but, there are certain things you shouldn’t do as a medical student and probably not until you are at least a senior resident. I feel like wearing cowboy boots in the OR is probably one of them! Maybe it would go over better in the Southwest but for now I think I will resist the urge to avoid becoming the resident known as “the one that wears the cowboy boots”.
There are obviously a lot more options than this. Socks are just as important to consider ( For the record I suggest Smartwool). What end up being the best shoes for the operating room for you comes down to a manner of personal preference but the options above are a great place to start. I will continue to vigilantly work my way through the list!
What do you wear on your feet in the hospital?
*this is replaceable by the way.