The 7 Best Shoes for Nurses of 2021

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Anyone who works in the healthcare industry—especially nurses—are accustomed to being on their feet all day. This makes the right shoe a crucial part of their uniform.

“After having been a nurse for nearly a decade now, what I find most important in selecting the right shoe is drastically different than when I first became a nurse,” says Laura Kelly, an RN based in Virginia. While initially more concerned with variety and aesthetics, she quickly changed her shoe buying strategy: invest more money in a single, high-quality pair than in a few cheaper styles. In other words, “absolutely do not scrimp on how much you pay for a shoe.”

There are a wide range of styles to choose from, but there are some key features you should look for, according to Kelly. First, you want to make sure your shoe is going to securely stay on throughout your shift, and it's easily cleanable. And of course, comfort is key.

“I would recommend getting a shoe that is a half size bigger than you normally wear, because during a long 12 hour shift walking, our feet can swell,” says Kelly. “The extra half size helps to accommodate for that potential swelling.”

If you're looking to replace your pair of work shoes or just need another pair to add to your collection, there are styles for every type of healthcare worker. We researched dozens of shoes and evaluated them based on their reviews, materials, sizes available, arch support, prices, and designs. Each of the products chosen in this article were determined to be the best of these factors.

Here are the best shoes for nurses on the market today.

Our Top Picks
Known amongst healthcare workers as the holy grail of comfort and convenience meets on-trend footwear.
Earn their name due to the fact that they are so comfortable, they are like walking in socks.
Best Tennis Shoes:
Brooks Ghost at Amazon
Incredibly lightweight—hence the name ghost.
Best for Being on Your Feet All Day:
On Cloud 2.0 at Dsw.com
Slip-resistant, featuring the brand's patented and cushioned CloudTec sole.
Best for Nurses with Plantar Fasciitis:
Brooks Addiction Walker Walking Shoes at Amazon
Uses the brand’s BioMoGo DNA technology, helping to reduce impact on the joints.
constructed out of fluid repellent material and is designed to withstand industrial strength cleaners and wipes.
Utilizes the brand’s OOfoam Recovery Technology, absorbing over one-third more impact than traditional footwear foam.
These sleek, stylish, and fluid-resistant shoes are great for both in and out of the hospital.
Pros
  • APMA seal of acceptance

  • Water resistant

  • Plush cushioning

Cons
  • Price

  • No wide width option

While it might be on the higher end of your budget, the Hoka One One Bondi SR is a high-quality option you can rely on for daily wear. It is engineered with an EVA midsole making it plush and offering ample cushioning for the longest of shifts. It features an ultra-grippy, slip-resistant outsole, and has been tested on surfaces with water, oil, and soap for slip resistance—obviously an important feature in the healthcare setting. This shoe has the endorsement of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) Seal of Acceptance to boot, meaning it has been reviewed by a group of APMA podiatrists to ensure it promotes foot health.

Materials: Water-resistant leather | Sizes Available: 5-11 | Width: Medium | Arch Support: EVA midsole

Best Budget: Slow Man Walking Shoes Sock Sneaker

Slow Man Walking Shoes Sock Sneaker
Pros
  • Price

  • Lightweight

  • Color options

Cons
  • No laces to tighten shoe

  • Could use more cushioning

Slow Man Walking Shoes Sock Sneaker is a fraction of the price of other more widely known brands. These slip-on sneakers earn their name due to the fact that they are so comfortable, they are like walking in socks. These shoes are uniquely designed in every aspect from their style to the fashionable-but-breathable knit material used to make them. They feature an MD outsole with added air cushioning that is both non-slip and water-resistant. The arch of the shoe is perforated, offering ample ventilation and breathability that is crucial for all-day wear. You will also love that the style is available in 25 color options, and in a variety of whole and half sizes ranging from 5.5 to 11.

Materials: Mesh fabric | Sizes Available: 5.5-11 | Width: Between medium and wide | Arch Support: Some arch support

Pros
  • Large size range

  • Various widths

  • APMA seal of acceptance

Cons
  • Price

  • Lacks support for high arches

Comfort is key when it comes to an all-day shoe, and the Brooks Ghost is consistently picked as one of the best sneakers for everything from walking and running to standing. They are incredibly lightweight—hence the name ghost—while still managing to offer ample cushioning from your heel to toes. These shoes are made for running and will come in handy for those situations when you need to be quick on your feet.

Materials: EVA foam, rubber, mesh | Sizes Available: 5-13 | Width: Narrow, medium, wide | Arch Support: Removable inserts

Best for Being on Your Feet All Day: On Cloud 2.0

On Cloud Shoes
Pros
  • Lightweight

  • Extra cushioning

  • Breathable material

Cons
  • Lacks width options

  • Can run small

On's ultra-light and uber-cushioned On Cloud is made to perform whether you spend your days in the ER, training for a marathon, or are simply looking for a super stylish sneaker to stroll in. Aesthetically, the shoe is totally on-trend and is available in a bunch of amazing hues. They are also slip-resistant, featuring the brand's patented and cushioned CloudTec sole, and are incredibly fuss-free due to their elastic speed-lacing system. Additionally, they are made out of a breathable, antimicrobial mesh which helps to keep your feet cool.

Materials: Mesh, synthetic fabric upper, rubber sole | Sizes Available: 6-11 | Width: Medium | Arch Support: Neutral support, best for medium to high arches

What the Experts Say

“I think that nurses should pick shoes based on their preference of style and comfort but also take into account what area they work in.” Alyssa Schiffer, a pediatric ICU nurse in Colorado

Best for Nurses with Plantar Fasciitis: Brooks Addiction Walker Walking Shoes

Brooks Walker Walking Shoes
Pros
  • Price

  • Wide width range

  • Maximum support

Cons
  • Difficult to break in

  • Lacks breathability

Brooks Addiction Walker Walking Shoes is one of our top picks for anyone with plantar fasciitis. It's constructed with extra cushioning in the heel and forefoot using the brand’s BioMoGo DNA technology, helping to reduce the impact on the joints. It also offers ample arch support and an Extended Progressive Diagonal Rollbar that cradles your tendons for added security. It is available in three colors—bone, white, and black—in easy-to-clean, full-grain leather.

Materials: Leather | Sizes Available: 5-12 | Width: Narrow, medium, wide, extra wide | Arch Support: Maximum support

What the Experts Say

“I would recommend getting a shoe that is a half size bigger than you normally wear because, during a long 12-hour shift walking, our feet can swell. The extra half size helps to accommodate for that potential swelling.” — Laura Kelly, RN based in Virginia

Best for Women: Clove Women's Pink Up Shoe

Women's Clove Shoes
Pros
  • Wide size range

  • Fluid resistant

  • Easy to clean

Cons
  • Have to break in

  • More arch support needed

This stylish sneaker is constructed out of fluid repellent material and is designed to withstand industrial strength cleaners and wipes. They are also lightweight, feature strong-grip soles, slip on in seconds, and include high-performance Ortholite inserts to keep odor and bacteria at bay.

Materials: Clarino, neoprene ankle sock | Sizes Available: 5-12.5 | Width: Medium | Arch Support: Some arch support

Best for Men: OOFOS Unisex Clog

Oofos clog
Pros
  • Color options

  • Breathable

  • Extra cushioning

Cons
  • Slippery on wet surfaces

  • Lacks width options

Oofos is another comfort-focused footwear brand that's perfect for nurses. Their Clog style is one of their more popular styles for healthcare workers, who swear they are significantly more comfortable than other brands. They utilize the brand’s OOfoam Recovery Technology, absorbing over one-third more impact than traditional footwear foam. They also cradle your aches, reducing stress on the feet, ankles, knees, and lower back. They are also made out of closed-cell foam, meaning you can throw them in the washing machine for an easy cleaning solution.

Materials: OOfoam | Sizes Available: 6-11 women, 4-9 men | Width: Medium | Arch Support: Yes

Best Support: Bala Twelves

Bala
Pros
  • Fluid resistant

  • High support

  • High-traction soles

Cons
  • Lacks width options

  • Lack breathability

If you're standing on your feet all day, you need shoes that can keep up. Bala's Twelves are designed with comfort in mind. These sleek, stylish, and fluid-resistant shoes are great for both in and out of the hospital. Their high-traction outsoles help prevent slipping and their thick cushioning heel keeps ankles supported through long shifts.

Materials: Knit, glove-like base layer; polyurethane foam soles; high-traction rubber treads | Sizes Available: 5-12 | Width: Medium | Arch Support: Arch M-Brace

Final Verdict

Nurses today have a lot more options when it comes to comfortable, functional, and fashionable footwear to pair with their scrubs. If you are looking to invest in a high-quality shoe that checks all the boxes—comfortable, designed to support your feet all day long, easy to clean, style-savvy, etc.—we suggest the Hoka One One (view at Hoka One One) as the first one you try on. If you suffer from plantar fasciitis, the Brooks Addiction Walker Walking Shoes (view at Amazon) should be your first pick.

What to Look for in Shoes for Nurses

Body Responses

When considering what shoe might work best for a long shift, think about how your body responds. These aches and pains coming from your feet and legs could indicate what is missing in your current shoe and that you need in another pair. “If there is a lot of aching across the forefoot joints or the midfoot/arch at the end of the day then I would suggest a more robust shoe constriction,” says Diane Koshimune, M.D., a communications committee member of the American Podiatric Medical Association and podiatric surgeon with Kaiser Permanente. For people with heel pain “caused by plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendinitis, I would recommend shoes that have a higher heel than the forefoot, referred to as positive drop in athletic type of shoes,” she adds. Speak to a podiatrist if you’re experiencing foot or leg pain after a shift and want to better understand what you can do to prevent those symptoms.

Type of Shoe

There are a number of different shoe styles available that could work well for a long shift at work. It is just about finding what style works best for you. “I look for style and comfort, and neutral colors that will go with many outfits,” says Alyssa Schiffer, a pediatric ICU nurse in Colorado. “Where I work we can wear whatever scrubs and top we want so having good neutral colors helps with that.” For some, they might find that a shoe similar to a tennis shoe gives them the most support and comfort throughout the workday. “An example of a shoe that I often recommend is the rocker sole design of the Hoka One One shoe. It is lightweight and very well cushioned which is optimal for many types of patients who are on their feet for many hours,” Dr. Koshimune says. But the shoe style is not meant for everyone, she adds. 

Shoes that are similar to clogs are also popular options for nurses because they are easy to slip on and off, durable, and can be comfortable when standing on one’s feet for long periods of time. “But the problem is they can be heavy and do not always work well in people with high insteps or people with ankle instability,” Dr. Koshimune says. For Schiffer, she prefers tennis shoes over clogs when working. “I have worn tennis shoes all my nursing career,” she says. “I have also seen many healthcare providers trip and roll their ankles in those clogs, which turned me off to them.”

Job Role

Depending on the nurse, they might be exposed to a range of bodily fluids while working an average shift. “If you are working in a field like labor and delivery, or the OR (operating room) where there are lots of bodily fluids during your shift, maybe crocs aren’t the shoe for you,” Schiffer says. “But always choose comfort over style, because those long 12-hour days catch up to you.” Shoes created with material that is easy to clean should be a top priority for nurses who find themselves interacting with bodily fluids. This will help prevent unwanted stains from lingering on the surface of the shoe. Also, several shoes that are made for nurses are fluid resistant, meaning the material is difficult for liquid to penetrate.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What kind of arch support should nurses look for when shopping for shoes?

    The answer to this question largely depends on who will be wearing the shoe. People have different types of structures to their feet that can alter the size of their arches. So while one type of arch support might work for a nurse with high arches, it wouldn’t potentially work for someone who has flat feet. “The interplay between arch support and shoe also needs to be taken into account. A more flexible shoe for example may benefit from a more rigid insole, while a very rigid shoe may not need a rigid insole,” Dr. Koshimune says. “But this also depends on the foot structure, body habitus, walking surface, number of hours worked, steps taken during shift, etc.” Typically, someone with a flatter foot benefits from a stiffer insole with minimal arch support while a person with higher arches benefits from a cushioned insole. Speak to a podiatrist if you’re unsure about what arch support might be best for you based on your body and personal circumstances at work.

  • Are running/tennis shoes supportive enough for nurses on long shifts?

    This, again, depends on the type of tennis shoe used and who will be wearing the shoe. “Not all running shoes or even tennis shoes are created equal,” Dr. Koshimune says. When comparing tennis shoes, consider what type of cushioning they offer in the different designs depending on your preferences. Also look at the construction of the sole and inner sole of the shoe. “Some are designed specifically to be minimalistic with very little cushion and even shock absorption built in,” Dr. Koshimune says. “Others are quite robust and have a lot of material in the sole and inner sole that helps to limit movement across the foot joints, which may be better in people with certain foot types.” An expert can help guide what type of running or tennis shoe you should look for when deciding between pairs.

What the Experts Say

“The ultimate choice really depends on how the wearer is feeling at the end of a shift. Some nurses may find that they can wear whatever shoe and feel the same at the end of a shift. However others may observe a difference in foot/leg fatigue after using different types of shoes.” Dr. Diane Koshimune, a communications committee member of the American Podiatric Medical Association and podiatric surgeon with Kaiser Permanente

Why Trust Verywell Health?

As an internationally recognized health writer and product guru, Leah Groth understands that nobody wants to waste their time or money on products that fail to rear results. Over the years, she has interviewed the world's top health experts and reviewed hundreds of items, to help readers like you discover the most effective health gadgets, goops, and aids that will help you look and feel your very best.

Additional reporting by Danielle Zoellner

As a seasoned health writer, Danielle Zoellner knows the importance of finding just the right product to fit your medical needs. Throughout her career, Danielle has interviewed a variety of experts in the medical and health fields while reviewing dozens of products. Her experience and knowledge in the field work together to help readers like yourself find the best products for your daily life.

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