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End of an Era as Nurse Who Wore Traditional Uniform Retires


Traditional Nurse
Ruby Sibert, left, with her UVMC nursing supervisor Robin Cunningham.

When Ruby Sibert retired in December after more than 40 years in nursing, she ended an era at Upper Valley Medical Center.

She was the last nurse to regularly wear the traditional white nursing uniform.  Her specific cap style told everyone in the ‘nursing know’ that she graduated from the Miami Valley School of Nursing.

“A lot of older people would stop and compliment me.  Some others would say, “What’s that on top of your head?” Sibert said laughing.

Sibert always wanted to be a nurse. The Anna area native fulfilled that dream through the then three-year program at Miami Valley Hospital, graduating in 1969. She was hired at Piqua Memorial Medical Center and worked there for a number of years moving on to positions in other facilities, including a nursing home. She returned to Piqua in 1989 and continued her career with the hospital’s consolidation into UVMC. 

In her early nursing days everyone wore the traditional white nursing uniform and cap, Sibert said. Styles changed through the years, but Sibert stuck with what was comfortable to her.

“When I had my uniform on, I was a nurse and there was certain behavior expected,” she said. “You looked the part. I must say as a supervisor for 20 plus years, people never questioned whether I was a nurse. I looked the part.”

People would ask if someone made her wear the hat.  “It was me. It wouldn’t be me without my hat,” Sibert said. 

As traditions and the profession evolved, nurses gradually stopped wearing their caps. When she first graduated, the hats were made of cotton and sent out for special pressing of pleats. Now the hats are disposable. Over the years, she inherited a number of caps, cotton and disposable, from other MVH graduates so she could continue her tradition. 

“Although the traditions of wearing a white uniform and cap have evolved for many good reasons, the need for the patient to know who the Registered Nurse is has never been greater,” said Judy Snyder, UVMC Chief Nursing Officer. “For nearly a decade, the Registered Nurses at UVMC have worn red ‘RN’ tags with their ID badges to assist patients and families in the identification of RNs.”  To further assist, UVMC will adopt a standard uniform of navy colored scrubs for all RNs later this year, she noted.

After more than 40 years in nursing, Ruby decided to join her husband, Robert, in retirement. They live near Sidney.  Married for 42 years, the Siberts have four children and six grandchildren.    

Content Updated: December 1, 2014

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