A Guide to Hijab in the Operating Room

Surgery, a field that is ever-evolving, has historically been one that is male-dominated. Over the last decade, the number of female medical students and trainees has significantly increased, and now females make up the majority of medical students. However, the rate of females pursuing surgery and subsurgical specialties has not followed the same trend.


Minorities and females are substantially underrepresented in surgical specialties. It is imperative to address the disconnect and to identify ways to increase the diversity of surgical specialties.

Specifically, hijab-wearing Muslim women have a difficult time finding a balance between donning compliant religious attire and maintaining modesty while also complying with hospital and operating room regulations.

Possible Solutions

Based on the alternatives for hospital personnel in other parts of the world, and based on what is available from companies that supply clothing for the operating room, alternatives have been identified. Long sleeve scrub jackets should be made easily accessible in OR locker rooms for hijab-wearing women to wear over their scrubs until scrubbing in and donning sterile attire. Especially since no outside clothing is allowed, it would be most comfortable to have this on since long sleeves cannot be worn under scrubs.

Similarly, surgical hoods should be made readily available in the OR locker rooms so that women who wear hijab can easily cover their hijab and remain compliant with sterile code and procedures.