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The Best Shoes for Long Nursing Shifts

The Best Shoes for Long Nursing Shifts

As a nurse, you know just how grueling those 12-hour shifts can be – which is why choosing the right nursing shoes is a critical decision. 

After all, you’re on your feet all day – rushing between patients, maneuvering around equipment, and constantly walking the halls of the hospital, clinic, or your patients’ homes. Having improper footwear in this demanding profession can quickly lead to pain, injuries, and literal missteps.

However, with so many options and factors to consider, finding ideal nursing footwear can feel daunting. 

This guide will walk you through how to select the best shoes for enduring long nursing shifts while preventing foot pain and injuries.

Slip Resistance Is Key

This is by far the most vital feature of nurses’ shoes. Hospital floors can be slippery. Spills are frequent. Having shoes with sturdy slip-resistant soles minimizes the risk of falls or injuries. 

Traction is vital for safety in fast-paced healthcare settings. Therefore, prioritize shoes with a defined traction sole pattern tested for both dry and wet surface grip.

Analyze the sole and tread patterns for:

  • Deep Lug Patterns – These provide the best grip even when floors are slick from spills.
  • Rubber Outsoles – Rubber naturally offers greater traction than materials like plastic or vinyl.
  • Slip Test – Gently slide your foot across the flooring at work to verify shoes resist slipping.

Avoid accidents by selecting shoes that truly provide traction for the reality of messy hospital floors.

Prioritize Comfort and Fit

Since you’re walking miles a day around medical facilities, shoes that feel great right away are a must. When trying on options, focus on:

  • Cushioning – Your feet need ample cushioning and shock absorption from hard floors. Ensure the materials and insoles offer plush padding.
  • Toe Space – The toe box should have sufficient room, so your toes aren’t constrained. This prevents nail issues and discomfort.
  • Snug yet Comfortable Fit – Shoes shouldn’t pinch or rub. But your heel shouldn’t slip either while walking. Optimal shoes will feel broken in and supportive from the first wear.

Don’t settle for nursing shoes that require a “break-in” period. Seek shoes that feel customized for your feet immediately. 

And because of the long hours you’ll put in walking and standing, favor nursing shoes with high-quality, memory foam insoles or cushioned midsoles. Some makers even offer pillow top inserts for enhanced comfort.

Look for Arch Support

Proper arch support prevents and relieves foot pain even during the longest shifts:

  • Try on Shoes – Shoes with adequate built-in arch reinforcement will feel gently cradling yet sturdy as you walk around.
  • Consider Custom Orthotics – Insert orthotics if you have flat feet or other support needs. Have feet measured and fitted by a podiatrist for best results.
  • Stand on One Foot – A shoe with good arch support will make it easier to balance steadily on one foot without strain or wobbling.

Your arches bear all your weight across tireless miles. Ensure they get proper assistance.

Accommodate Swelling Needs

Since you’re on your feet for prolonged periods, nursing shoes must accommodate inevitable swelling:

  • Lace-Up Styles – These allow adjusting fit throughout your shift. As feet expand, simply loosen laces.
  • Wide Toe Boxes – Ensure ample room for toes to splay and swell without feeling constrained.
  • Removable Inserts – Being able to remove shoe inserts provides space for expansion on extra busy days.

Shoes that adapt to swelling keep your feet happy even at hour 12 of your shift.

Washability Is a Must

Inevitably shoes will get dirty in chaotic hospital settings. Prioritize washable materials:

  • Leather or Vinyl Uppers – These can wipe clean easily if splattered with spills.
  • Removable Footbeds – Being able to toss footbeds into the washing machine periodically keeps odors at bay.
  • Waterproofing – Shoes designed with waterproofing allow quick rinsing when disinfecting.

Choosing washable nursing shoes ensures you can keep them fresh as new despite the demands of the job.

Evaluate Weight and Durability

Heavier shoes provide stability but can also cause fatigue over 10+ hours. Analyze:

  • Overall Weight – Lightweight materials like mesh promote mobility but may wear out more quickly. Find the right balance.
  • Sturdy Construction – Nursing shoes must withstand long miles. Inspect seams and sole attachments for durability.
  • Material Density – Leather, rubber, and dense mesh last longer than thin fabrics prone to tears.

The perfect on-the-job shoes strike a balance between supportive stability and energizing lightweight comfort.

Consider Athletic Styles

Athletic or athletic-inspired styles offer advantages:

  • Flexible Materials – Knit fabrics and flexible soles allow natural foot movement and energize steps.
  • Cushioning and Support – Athletic brands excel at shock absorption and stability from athletic shoe technology.
  • All-Day Wearability – Sneaker-like styles remain comfortable even after long hours.

Athletic shoes deliver features nurses need while better passing as stylish everyday shoes too.

Set a Smart Budget

While cost plays a role, view nursing shoes as an investment in your comfort and health. When weighing options:

  • Consider Longevity – Cheap shoes wear out fast, requiring frequent replacements. Higher quality lasts years.
  • Calculate Cost Per Wear – Divide the price by estimated wears per week. Just a few more dollars per wear can provide better value long-term.
  • Don’t Skimp on Regular Replacements – Even pricier shoes reach the end of life after 6-12 months with nursing wear.

Viewing shoes as an essential budget line item helps justify spending for ideal fit and support. Your feet deserve it!

Top Nursing Shoe Styles and Brands

Now that you know what to look for, and how to go about choosing the best shoes for long nursing shifts, it’s time to think about which specific shoe style and brand you’d prefer. 


These slip-on shoes are supremely popular for nursing. Roomier toe boxes, ventilation holes, supportive soles, and low heels optimize these for hospital use. Brands like Dansko, Merrell, and Alegria offer high-grade options.

Athletic Sneakers 

Athletic nursing shoes deliver lightweight comfort and all-day energy return via features like midsole cushioning and elastic laces. Models from brands like Nike, Brooks, and Hoka provide both function and flair.

Compression Fit Shoes 

Snug-fitting compression shoes promote circulation and reduce foot fatigue. Brands like FitFlops, Anywears, and Vessel offer fashionable options that feel like slippers but provide ample support.


Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Crocs endure as a nurse footwear staple given their slip-on comfort, ventilation ports, and easy-clean construction. The addition of padded insoles also helps for long periods of standing. Brand extensions like sneaker-style Crocs also give new options.

Leather Oxfords 

Classic oxfords get upgraded with slip-resistant soles and moisture absorption to make them nursing-ready. Brands like Klogs, Dankso, and Birkenstock offer professional-looking options.

Loafers Slip-on loafers make getting in and out of shoes easy. Brands optimize them for nursing by adding cushioned arch support, anti-slip soles, and antimicrobial liners suitable for clinical settings.

Insoles, Inserts, and Compression Socks 

To make any everyday shoe nursing-ready, add supportive orthotic insoles, padded inserts or compression socks. These provide targeted cushioning and circulation aids for long shifts.

Key Brands to Know

  • Dansko – The gold standard in clogs and other ergonomic footwear for nurses. Offers superior arch support.
  • Alegria – Known for signature clogs and slip-ons with personalized arch support and cushioned footbeds.
  • Nike – Top athletic brand making specialty sneakers tailored to healthcare workers. Emphasizes comfort and safety.
  • Crocs – Maker of the iconic clog, now offering expansive nursing shoe collections including sneakers.
  • Brooks – Running shoe brand offering performance styles with targeted support for nurses and other medical professionals.
  • Merrell – Outdoor footwear company that makes durable yet comfortable clogs designed for nursing.
  • New Balance – Trusted sneaker maker with supportive nursing shoe styles. Often offers wide widths.
  • Klogs – Specializes in supple leather nursing clogs, oxfords, slip-ons, and sneakers.
  • Birkenstock – Known for orthopedic support; makes professional clogs and comfort shoes for nurses.
  • Dr. Scholl’s – Budget-friendly brand with a variety of slip-resistant nursing sneakers, clogs, and oxfords.
  • AnyWear – Affordable nursing shoes with a focus on cushioned insoles for optimal comfort.

Things to Avoid

  • Converse/Vans – No arch support
  • Regular ballet flats – No traction
  • Open-back clogs – Can slip off
  • Sandals – Exposure risks
  • High heels – Strain feet
  • Narrow-toed shoes – Constrict feet

Summary of Key Features to Look For 

As you can see, there are a lot of factors to take into account – and some do’s and don’ts to follow – when you’re preparing to buy the best shoes for long nursing shifts. But in a nutshell, these are the most important features to remember: 

Slip Resistance and Safety Features 

Besides the all-important slip resistance and traction, many nursing shoes also offer useful safety features like fluid-resistant materials, electrical hazard protection, and reinforced toes for spill and impact protection. Some even have reflective accents for visibility.


Nursing involves lots of movement and physical exertion. Shoes that offer breathable uppers, moisture-wicking liners, and airflow vents keep your feet cool, fresh, and blister-free even on the longest days. Mesh fabrics work well for optimal breathability.


Proper arch support and motion control are imperative for promoting foot health when you’re pounding the hospital corridors all day. Look for sturdy midsoles, torsional rigidity, and structural reinforcements from toe to heel for stability.


While support is key, the shoes also need to provide natural flexibility so you can bend and move with ease. Flex grooves, soft collars, and bendable uppers allow your feet to move freely. This enhances comfort and reduces fatigue.


Nurse’s shoes must fit true to size and offer a snug yet spacious toe box. Ample width accommodates swelling. A secure heel cup, adjustable closures, and optional inserts enable a customized, stable fit. Poorly fitting shoes can wreak havoc on your feet.

Lightweight Yet Durable 

Cumbersome shoes get tiring fast. Lightweight designs are ideal for comfort and mobility. But they still need to be durably constructed from leather, mesh or knits to endure long-term use in demanding environments.

Takeaway Tips

  • Prioritize slip resistance and shock absorption
  • Ensure a snug yet roomy toe area
  • Try shoes on in the evenings when feet are most swollen
  • Replace shoes every 6 months per experts
  • Have 2-3 pairs to rotate and expand longevity
  • Keep an extra pair in the car or locker for spills or emergencies
  • Don’t skimp – foot health is paramount as a nurse

Finding your perfect nursing shoes involves balancing comfort, support, safety, and durability. But be sure to try on multiple styles to ensure a proper fit. Having back-ups on hand is a good idea too. And of course, show your feet a little TLC when off duty! 

Make Confident Shoe Selections

As a nurse constantly on your feet, wearing shoes that provide proper support and comfort is crucial for your health and stamina. 

The right footwear can provide optimal comfort, support, safety, and durability to get you through those marathon shifts. 

Finding your perfect nursing shoes requires assessing needs and thoughtfully evaluating options. But the payoff of shoes that support you through miles walked and endless hours on your feet is priceless. 

Treat your feet well and they’ll carry you smoothly through the most hectic shifts ahead!


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