Agency nurse approved: The best footwear for long shifts

Nurses spend the majority of their shifts on their feet, whether they are making rounds, administering medication, or providing patient care. This constant activity can put significant strain on their lower body, often leading to severe discomfort if left untreated. To help, we have compiled a list of the most comfortable shoes for agency nurses, as chosen by our Guild nursing community.

Our moods and intentions greatly influence the way we walk. For example, a child having a tantrum may stomp their feet, while someone trying to be sneaky might walk at a much softer and slower pace. Feeling rushed can lead to pain in your shin muscles, also known as shin splints.

When your shoes are worn out and lack cushioning, each step can become increasingly painful due to the lack of support. This can be particularly problematic in healthcare settings, where nurses are constantly moving between patients. Without proper footwear, nurses may experience discomfort and decreased productivity as they struggle to move quickly and efficiently from one place to another.

According to research conducted by the Blue Light Card, nurses walk upwards of 25 miles per week at work, whereas the average person walks around 11 miles per week. Even if you are standing still with good posture or walking around the ward, wearing ill-fitting, uncomfortable shoes will impact your bones, muscles, muscle tissue and joints.

The best nursing shoes are lightweight, support the back of your foot, are easy to slip on and off, protect your feet from liquids, offer great support for your arch, are easy to clean, cushioned and have good tread on the bottom to prevent slips.

The cushioning of a shoe becomes completely compressed after a constant six-hour wear, so we advise you to take two pairs of shoes to work with you. That way, you can switch them out during your shift and keep your feet comfortable.

We asked Guild nurses what shoes they would recommend for those long shifts.

The three most popular as voted for by our community were:

  1. Hoka running shoes stole the spotlight, due to their supportive design and comfortable fit.⁠
  2. New Balance trainers proved popular for their ability to provide unbeatable comfort during long work shifts.⁠
  3. Crocs were another highly recommended option, ensuring comfort even on the busiest days.⁠

Durable shoes will mean you don’t have to repurchase them as frequently throughout your career.

Sadly, the requirements for a nurse’s shoe do come at a cost, but nothing to break the bank. After all, the shoes will become a part of you and will help to prevent pain. The recommended shoes in the above are priced between £40 to £180. If you want something more accessible and cheaper, Crocs are a firm favourite amongst healthcare workers and cost around £40.

Are you looking to explore agency nursing in either Scotland or Ireland? If you’re a registered nurse with a valid NMC or NMBI pin and at least 6 months of experience conducting patient visits in the last two years, then you could be eligible to register with us today.

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