Friday, June 10, 2005

shoe talk

There was some discussion in the comments section about comfortable hospital shoes, so I thought I'd weigh in. Not that I'm some expert or anything, and keep in mind that I'm a lady, so maybe there's some Secret Ultra-Comfort Men's Shoe out there of which I'm unaware--but the hospital shoes that I own fall into three main categories, each with their own pros and cons.

Obviously, we have our clogs. These are the first hospital shoes I bought at the beginning of my third year of med school, and they have served me well. We all know that clogs are the standard in hospital footwear, but they are by no means perfect.


  • A comfortable, roomy flat shoe for everyday walking around.
  • Depending on the style, may be fancy-looking enough to pass for a "real" shoe if you're having a dress-up day--Grand Rounds or what have you.
  • Easy to slip on and off for when you're on call and have the pleasure of getting some shut-eye.


  • Maybe it's just because I've had my clogs for so long, but I find them to be a little hard on the soles of my feet if I'm to be standing for prolonged periods of time. Walking around during the course of a normal day is no problem, but for prolonged standing or a 24-hour shift, I prefer something with a cushier sole.
  • Due to the fact that they're so roomy and easy to slip on and off, it's actually kind of dangerous to run in these shoes. Not recreational running, of course, that would be CRAZY TALK, but I mean running to codes, running away from the portable X-ray machine, running to the snack machine between patients on rounds. I have turned my ankle more times than I can count in clogs.
  • Kind of expensive, but maybe that's not really a con, since they last so long. I've had my first pair for going on four years now, and they're still perfectly serviceable (though fashionably scuffed at the toe box).

Ah, the sneaker. Good old sneaker. This is actually the pair that I have (well, one of the pairs), located after some angst-filled searching when Cara clued me in on an online distributor that carried my size. They are lovely to behold. But they are still not the perfect hospital shoe.


  • Come on, man. They just look cool. And allow for some modicum of fashion expression in your choice of Saucs vs. neon colored Roos vs. fancy high-performance running sneakers. I am an individual, dammit, not a hospital drone!
  • You got your cushioned sole right here. Standing for hours in the OR or on rounds? These will serve you and your pressure-points well.
  • You can run in these shoes without the fear of breaking your damn leg. Well, unless you're a real klutz.


  • They are a tad on the casual side. Fine with scrubs, but maybe you're on a service that requires you to actually wear work clothes like a normal person.
  • They might feel a little snug at the end of the day, depending on how much standing around you do and the status of your lymphatic system.
  • A bitch to pull on and off in a rush. Imagine this: you're sleeping in the call room overnight, and there's a code. "Hold on...let me I can put them on..." I suppose you could just lace them really loosely so that you can slip them on and off easier, but it's hard to beat the clog for that kind of "Look Ma, no hands!" convenience.

And finally, we have the moc, which I guess is sort of a clog/sneaker hybrid. I'm assuming "moc" is short for "moccasin," but no retailers seem to call it that, maybe because it conjures up images of fringed leather footwear with beads and Sacajawea. Anyway, as you can see, the moc is sort of a slip-on walking shoe with a sneaker-ish sole. Many people have Merrells, but I find that for hospital-use purposes, the winter Mocs at Land's End or L.L. Bean work just as well, and cost less than half the price. (Unfortunately, Land's End doesn't seem to carry their "All-Weather Mocs" in the summertime, but I'm sure they'll be back in the fall.)

  • Cushiony.
  • You can run in them.
  • Easy to slip on.


  • Ugly as sin.

So there you are, The Underwear Drawer guide to hospital shoes. Any reader recommendations are more than welcome in the Comments section--I'm always on the lookout for the Next Great Shoe. Do you think they'll let me wear my Floaties on call tonight?

Currently reading: "Garlic and Sapphires," an excellent recommendation by Cecily from ye olde Comments section. In brief, it's a memoir-slash-food love story written by the former chief restaurant critic of the New York Times. Lord, this book is making me hungry. Too bad all of those reviews are at least ten years old now, no way to know if they still have the same chefs or menus--or indeed, if some of the smaller restaurants are even still around.