The 6 Best Shoes for Nursing Students in 2022
After reviewing 40+ products, we found the Birkenstock Tokyo Super Grip to be the best shoes for nursing students.
We asked a registered nurse with 20+ years’ experience, Desiree McCracken, to help us write the article. We used her input to shortlist shoes, then tried them on in-store. We also used social media to reach out to nurses and see what they thought.
It was important to find a white nursing shoe to fit in with the dress code. It needed to be breathable and offer good support. We wanted shoes that reduced foot fatigue and came with a slip-resistant outsole. We also wanted them to protect us from common risks and injuries such as plantar fasciitis.
The best nurses shoes, for both men and women, are the Birkenstock Tokyo Super Grip. They offer exceptional comfort and support. They’re easy to clean and are available in white. Thanks to their clog style construction, they’re also extremely breathable.
But just because they’re our favourite shoes for nursing students, it doesn’t mean they’re the best in every scenario.
For example, the best nursing sneakers are the Reebok Work N Cushion 4.0. And the best value for money shoes are the Crocs On The Clock slip-on.
Keep reading to find the most suitable shoes for you.
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Disclaimer: This guide was created for educational purposes. It neither offers nor replaces medical advice. Learn more here.
Table of Contents
Best Shoes for Nursing Students
The overall best nursing shoe is the Tokyo Super Grip from Birkenstock. This nursing clog is made with high-quality materials and features a fully anatomical footbed.
Being a clog, the Super Grip has a smooth leather upper and an open heel. It protects to top of your foot from spills or falling objects. But, it also allows air to flow in from the back, keeping you cool during a long shift. The shoes include an adjustable strap on the heel which provides walking sandal like comfort and support. As with most nursing shoes, the leather upper is plain white and easy to clean.
The Birkenstock footbed matches the grooves and contours of your feet. It features a deep heel cup to keep your feet planted. It delivers excellent arch support and the toe grip ridge allows your toes to spread and flex as you walk. There’s also a raised edge all the way around the edge to cradle your foot.
It’s made of natural cork and includes a cushioned suede lining. Over time, the cork and suede mould to the shape of your foot for fully customised support.
The thin EVA midsole creates a lightweight, cushioned layer to reduce foot fatigue and absorb impacts. The outsole is rated as non-slip. It features a defined tread pattern to disperse liquids and offer consistent traction.
It’s hard to find anything we don’t like about these shoes. The price is high. But for that, you get a premium quality shoe. The visible cork around the heel might be a problem in some nursing schools. If you are required to wear a completely white shoe, these may not be suitable.
- Fatigue reduction
- High price
- Visible cork may not meet the requirements of all nursing schools
Best Budget Shoes for Nursing Students
The best value shoes for nursing students are the Crocs On The Clock. Unlike traditional Crocs, these shoes are not a clog design. Instead, they feature a fully enclosed heel. They’re comfortable, supportive and provide excellent traction. Most importantly they’re easy to clean, available in white, and are very budget-friendly.
Almost the entire shoe is formed from Crocs’ proprietary Croslite material. It naturally reduces odours, prevents bacterial growth and provides excellent cushioning. It absorbs impacts and is moulded for maximum comfort.
The upper section will keep you safe from spills or falling objects. Around the back, the shoe is tapered. It gently grips your ankle and heel to provide a stable base for your feet. At the front, the wide toe box provides plenty of wiggle room. The relaxed fit allows air to flow around your feet, reducing sweating and overheating.
The thick dual-density footbed is contoured for comfort. It provides exceptional arch support and plenty of heel cushioning to absorb impacts. This cushioning flattens out when your feet are in the shoes to ensure a flat, supportive platform.
Included on the outsole is Crocs Lock slip-resistant tread. It’s effective in wet and dry conditions, allowing you to move freely during your shift.
Although the relaxed fit allows air to flow around your feet, there’s very little in the way of ventilation holes. The only way air gets in and out is via the ankle collar. In the summer the reduced ventilation can become quite uncomfortable.
It’s also worth mentioning the look of these shoes. While they don’t look like average Crocs, they’re still not good looking shoes. However, they’re super budget-friendly and you’re already getting more than you’re paying for with these shoes.
- Easy to clean
- Odour reduction
- Reduced ventilation may become uncomfortable in higher temperatures
Best Sneaker for Nursing Students
The best sneaker for nurses is the Reebok Work N Cushion. Available in white and with an easy to clean leather upper, this walking shoe is popular among professionals who spend a lot of time on their feet. You can buy the Work N Cushion in a lace-up or velcro model.
The leather upper has a smart look and is durable. It’s easy to wipe clean but more intense marks might require white shoe polish. It also features mesh cutouts on the sides for increased breathability and a padded collar for extra support.
The non-slip rubber sole has an interesting tread pattern that provides reliable grip whether it’s wet or dry. It features flex grooves too. These allow your feet to bend naturally as you walk. The heel is bevelled to effectively disperse energy and encourage a more efficient gait.
The DMX+ Ride midsole provides cushioning and support. It makes each stride more comfortable thanks to its dual-density nature. The soft layer cushions while the thicker layer supports your foot. It’s compression-resistant so the support and comfort last as long as you need it.
As for the insole, the MemoryTech foam sock-liner delivers comfort by the bucket load. It’s soft, moisture-wicking and provides responsive cushioning.
These work sneakers are available for both men and women. Both models are specifically shaped to match the foot form of each gender.
It’s great for breathability but a lot of nursing schools won’t allow shoes with any mesh panels on the upper. If you are at one of those schools, these shoes will not be suitable.
- Mesh panels may not meet the dress code requirements in some nursing schools
Best Slip-On for Nursing Students (Women)
The best slip-on shoe for female nursing students is the Vionic Avery. Designed and built by podiatrists, then given the American Podiatric Medical Association seal of approval, these shoes some of the most supportive and comfortable nursing shoes we tested.
The white leather upper is spillproof and water-resistant. It’s easy to clean and will keep you safe at work. Twin gore panels in the upper ensure your foot is held securely at all times. These elasticated panels also make slipping the shoes on and off much easier.
Inside the shoe, the Vio Motion footbed is lined with canvas. It features three distinct zones. There’s nice cushioning near your toes for the ultimate comfort. The middle offers unrivalled arch support and the back delivers a ton of stability. Combined these three zones encourage your foot into a natural position. They make walking, standing and even sitting a more comfortable experience.
If you need custom orthotics, the footbed can be removed and replaced.
The Vio Grip outsole is non-slip and hardwearing. It effectively disperses liquids to ensure you have traction when you need it.
The shoes are available in regular or wide models.
It takes a couple of weeks to break these shoes in. Initially, we suggest not wearing them for more than an hour or two at a time. They are also much narrower than many of the other shoes we tested. Even the wide version felt too tight for some of the Shoethority team.
- Approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association
- A break in period of a few weeks is required
- Sizing runs narrow
Best Slip-On for Nursing Students (Men)
The best slip-on shoe for male nursing students is the Vionic Brody. Specialists in supportive footwear, Vionic have done it once again with this work shoe. The Brody is low profile, smart looking and includes a ton of features to ensure your comfort and protection.
It’s designed by podiatrists and comes with the American Podiatric Medical Association seal of approval.
The canvas upper is lightweight, flexible and breathable. It has two gore panels for maximum support and security. These elasticated panels also make it easy to slide the shoes on and off.
The EVA footbed is lined with leather. It’s gentle on your feet and keeps you cool by allowing air to flow in and out of the shoes. Orthaheel Technology produces improved orthotic support and stability. It reduces foot pain and fatigue by supporting your arches and allowing your feet to work in their natural manner.
The rubber outsole is durable and non-slip. The hexagonal tread pattern is similar to the tread found on Vans. It produces consistent traction across a range of conditions.
Although there are leather versions of this shoe available, the white model is only available in canvas. Canvas is not spillproof, nor easy to wipe clean. This means the shoes are not as suitable for nursing students as other shoes on our list.
They also take a while to break in. We suggest only wearing them for a couple of hours at a time for the first couple of weeks. This gives the leather lined footbed time to mould to your feet and become more supportive.
- Approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association
- Fatigue reducing
- White colorway is only available in canvas which is not suitable for nursing shoes
- Requires a break in period
Best Arch Support Shoes for Nursing Students (Women & Men)
The best shoe for foot stability and arch support is the Propet Wash & Wear. As with all Propet shoes, this slip-on sneaker provides top-level stability and security. It’s available in both male and female models. Each one is built with a different foot form and shape in mind so ensure you order the correct gendered model for you.
These leather shoes feature a white upper. It’s tough with a smart, professional appearance. It’s easy to wipe clean but can also be machine washed if necessary. It features a neoprene collar which makes it easy to slip the shoes on and off. This clings to your ankle, offering support and preventing your feet from moving in the shoes.
Top Tip: Air dry shoes after you’ve machine washed them. Using a drier can distort their shape.
The firm heel counter plays its part by cradling the back of your foot. It keeps you well planted in the shoes, reducing any risk of rolling your foot or twisting your ankle.
The Nylex internal lining is moisture-wicking to keep your feet dry and prevent them from overheating. The removable insole helps keep your feet cool too. It’s perforated to encourage maximum airflow. It also features a padded heel cushion for comfort and shock absorption.
The flexible, lightweight EVA midsole offers effective and responsive cushioning. It delivers extraordinary arch support while protecting you from the impact of your footfalls. The outsole features non-slip panels on the heel and forefoot. To save on weight, there’s only EVA foam around the middle portion of the sole.
The shoes are available in a range of widths from Medium to XX-Wide.
The neoprene collar on the men’s version of these shoes is blue. Which means a lot of nursing schools won’t let you wear them. Nurses we spoke to said they could hide the blue collar below their scrubs. However, wearing these shoes for nursing school means you’re probably going against the dress code.
- Easy to clean
- Might not meet the dress code for all nursing schools
Congratulations! You have made it this far through nursing school. Now it’s time for clinicals where you’ll be wearing scrubs. And when you wear scrubs, you need nursing shoes. All schools have different colors, but one thing that is universal in the dress code is shoes. Most schools require all white shoes. And sometimes finding them can be hard. Here are a few features to help you find the best.
1. Style Requirements
Most nursing schools require shoes that are all white. That means no color, even in accents – and no logos. Usually, shoes can be leather or vinyl only. Sometimes, waterproof mesh that’s easy to clean is okay.
The shoe must have a closed upper to protect your feet from sharp objects that may drop on them or any liquid spilled. The latter is important; I promise, you do not want body fluids to get through your shoe and on your foot.
When I was learning the ropes as a nurse, specific style requirements were a lot more rigid. We had to look professional, even if that meant sacrificing comfort.
Today, I find that most nursing schools are more focused on personal comfort. Still, be mindful of appearances. You want to look clean and professional when you’re wearing the shoes with your scrubs.
Breathability is tricky with medical shoes for nursing students. On one hand, you’re discouraged from wearing mesh. You also need shoes that are spill-proof and easy-to-clean.
This means you’re wearing smooth leather and vinyl shoes more often than not. It also means there are no perforations on the shoe upper.
So how do you get breathability?
First, an open ankle collar. Clogs, slip-ons and some sneakers have these. These help a lot.
Second, ventilated insoles and sock liners. These can let air circulate through a shoe. Combined with a wide ankle collar, they can really cool your feet down.
You can also look for formal-looking modern materials. Some synthetic mesh uppers aerate the feet while being spill-proof. And if you don’t expect to work with liquids much, e.g. as a nurse receptionist, you may not need completely waterproof shoes anyway.
3. Support and Cushioning
Starting clinicals means you will be on your feet for long hours. To keep your feet energized and pain-free, you’ll need arch support. The better your foot posture, the less likely you are to get an achey, flat foot.
Cushioning is good too. But between the two features, support is more important to me. Look for lots of support and moderate cushioning.
If you want to wear clogs, look for ones with orthotic footbeds, medial arch support and anti-fatigue features.
Do not get cheap foam footwear of any kind. Do not get shoes that have no support to speak of. If you can’t find shoes that give you the kind of support you need, get a good pair of insoles for standing and walking.
Clogs and other medical shoe types are often loose on the foot. This can cause blisters, falling and general unpleasantness.
If you’re running to a code, you might even run out of your shoes… I know that’s happened to me before. So first and foremost, you want shoes that are nice and snug on the foot.
For clogs, this means you want them to have a heel strap or something similar. For other shoes, look for models that feel snug but comfortable through the midfoot and heel.
One last thing to remember. Your feet will swell up by the end of a long shift. When getting shoes for nursing school, don’t get a pair that’s too tight. They should have a little extra room to them.
You’ll need a slip resistant shoe with a good tread pattern. Water and oil-resistance are good too, since you never know where you’ll be working and walking.
Any shoe you are looking at should be tried on and walked in. If they are lace-tied they should be tied appropriately so you can assess the fit and feel.
6. Easy-to-clean upper
One of the hardest things for me in nursing school was keeping my shoes white. When you pick your shoes, look for easy to clean material, such as leather or vinyl. We can polish leather to maintain the pure whiteness, and vinyl is easy to clean.
If you do not keep your shoes white, I promise your instructors will become aggravated. You may even lose a few points. If you are wearing white leather, carry a small bottle of white shoe polish in your bag. It will save you one day I promise. If you are wearing vinyl, then having wet wipes usually will take off any marks.
The best shoes for nursing students are the Birkenstock Tokyo Super Grip. They’re available in white and will protect your feet from drips or spills. They’re also easy to clean and super comfortable. They take a little breaking in but once the sole is moulded to your feet there’s no competition.
We also like the Vionic Brody and Avery models a lot. They have wide ankle collars, good arch support and an easy slip-on style. The EVA foam insoles are designed by podiatrists and very comfortable.
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