What to wear on placement

We know that placements are a major part of your experience during your course so we've spoken to staff and students to give you a head start on what's required, particularly in a clinical environment.

Student in uniform on placement

What do you wear on placement? And how do you get there? If you're wondering about these things then you're not alone - they're some of the questions we’re asked most often!

For our first placement post we’re focusing on your uniform. We've spoken to some of our tutors and students to give you an overview of what we provide for you and tips on everything from uniform and tattoos.


It will be no surprise to learn that as a Nursing or Midwifery student you will be expected to wear uniform on placement, although there may be exceptions to this for certain placements for Learning Disability Nursing and Mental Health Nursing (you’ll be advised about this in due time before your placements start).

Uniforms are designed to comply with the health and safety requirements of the placement provider and importantly to identify you to colleagues and patients as a student and ambassador of Birmingham City University. It will ensure you meet the minimum levels of professional appearance required.

At the start of the course you will receive either three or four sets of BCU uniform for the duration of your course, free of charge. This will usually be tunics and trousers. If you’re a Learning Disability Nursing or Mental Health Nursing student, whether you’re required to wear a uniform during a placement will depend upon the environment you’re going into but you will be issued with uniform as there will be occasions when you need to wear it. You will also be issued with a name badge with your full name. Replacements are charged at £5 each.

If you want to buy additional uniform items they’re usually around £10 per item. We also know life happens so should you become pregnant during the course, Maternity uniforms will be provided free of charge.

Student on placement We have a whole policy that advises you what is expected in terms of other aspects of appearance from hair to shoes.

Here are our top ten pointers:

  1. Visible tattoos are okay with us as long as they’re not profane or offensive, in which case you’ll have to use a tattoo cover product. Some NHS Trust partners might have their own rules though so you’ll have to abide by those.
  2. Make-up is also fine as long as it’s modest rather than the kind you might use on a night out! Also, no false lashes…
  3. The only jewellery you can wear is one plain metal ring with no stones in and one small, plain stud in each ear (the lower part of the lobe). If you have any other piercings, the jewellery must be removed (this includes tongue studs!)
  4. Clinical areas require a fob watch but wrist watches may be acceptable in non-clinical areas where they don’t compromise infection control.
  5. If your hair reaches your collar it will need to be tied/pinned up when on placement. And if you have facial hair that would be long enough to fall towards a patient, you’ll need to fasten that back too!
  6. If your socks are visible, they need to be plain!
  7. You don’t want to scratch any patients, so make sure your nails are short enough to be safe and comply with infection control practices (this will be the focus of some skills sessions in your first semester). You must also not wear any kind of varnish or gel or have nail extensions.
  8. Cultural/religious clothing. A face veil is not permitted in clinical classes or on placement to ensure you are identifiable for patients and that patients can fully engage and communicate with you. A head scarf (Hijab) or turban may be worn provided they are plain white, navy blue or black and that they’re well secured enough that you don’t need to keep adjusting it.
  9. Some of our placement partners have a ‘bare below the elbow’ policy when you’re caring for patients. This is related to infection control practices and applies to everyone. If you are Sikh and wear a Kara, then you can still do this providing you push it up your arm and secure it above the elbow.
  10. Shoes. You could be on shift for 12 hours so not only do they do they do they need to be low-heeled, have non-slip soles and be made of a material that’s not fabric, they also need to be comfortable. Your shoes will also need to cover the whole of your foot and be able to cleaned and decontaminated (we’ll leave that to your imagination!) We’re not recommending any one brand but Clarks Unloops are popular among students as the choice of footwear. This is so that they will keep you safe and comply with infection control standards. 

So now you know what we’ll give you in terms of uniform and what else you to consider about what to wear and your appearance, you have to figure out how to get there!

Placements for Adult and Child Nursing along with Midwifery are all in the Birmingham and Solihull area, while Learning Disability and Mental Health Nursing placements could be across the wider West Midlands, so our next blog instalment on placements will include tips on how to get around to placement and in what circumstances you could claim some financial support towards your travel costs.

Student midwives on placement

Placement support

We want to support you while you're on placement as well as at uni so one of our lecturers has developed an app to help you on clinical placement.

Find out more