If you’re a nurse, you know how important your shoes are.

They need to be comfortable as well as strong and durable.

Given how much punishment the average pair of nurse’s shoes takes each shift in the form of scrapes, scuffs, bumps, and bangs, how do you know when to replace them with new shoes?

When should nurses replace their work shoes? Nurses should replace their tennis shoes every 350-500 miles. Or to put it simply every 7 months or twice a year.

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What Makes for a Good Pair of Shoes?

Nursing is an area that’s very demanding indeed.

This is why it’s so important to have the right pair of shoes to wear each shift.

Here are the main qualities that make for a good pair of nursing shoes:

1. Comfort

The way the shoes work with the biomechanics of your feet is very important.

Since you’re going to be on your feet a lot, the shoes need to be comfortable.

This means they should fit well, offer solid support, and work with the biomechanics of your feet.

2. Material

In days gone by, leather was the primary material used for nursing shoes.

This has changed and we now have access to all sorts of synthetic materials.

The advantage of many of these materials is that they’re lightweight.

Just make sure you get a pair that will be able to endure many washes.

Related: 5 Best Leather Shoes for Nurses

3. Durability

Your shoes will go through a lot so they need to be strong, easy to keep clean, and waterproof if possible.

Related Article: How to Clean Your Nurse Shoes

When Should You Replace Them?

No matter how durable and hard-wearing your shoes are, you will need to replace them at some point.

So what’s the ideal answer?

The fact is that this varies.

According the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine, the average tennis shoes should be replaced every 350 to 500 miles (source).

For most nurses that means they should replace their shoes every 7 months or about twice a year.

Here’s how I got twice a year.
Assuming a nurse that works the usual 12-hour shifts 3 times a week.

On a typical shift, nurses will walk about 4 miles. That means a nurse will walk about 12 miles in a typical week (3 shifts x 4 miles = 12)

I won’t really bore you with the rest of the math but if you work it out that’s how I got 7 months.

Or to make it simple, replace your work shoes twice a year.

As you can see a lot depends on how often you work and how your shifts are.

Do your shoes get scuffed up quickly and take a beating? Or do you have fairly comfortable shifts and don’t work full-time hours?

A lot will also depend on how strong and durable your shoes are.

Some synthetic materials might be ultra-light and easy to wear but may not be as hard-wearing as other materials.

Having said all of that, there are some common signs that mean you should definitely be looking for new shoes to accompany you on your shifts.

When to Replace Your Shoes

Here are some common signs that indicate that a shoe replacement is imminent (source):

1. The Sole Is Broken

Nursing shoes really do take a beating but one sign that you need a new pair is when the soles are cracked or broken.

Any break to the sole will potentially allow fluids to enter.

2. They Aren’t Comfortable Any Longer

One thing that nursing shoes definitely need to be is as comfortable as possible.

Unfortunately, repeated washing cycles can distort the fabrics, shrink them, or twist them out of shape.

This can make them uncomfortable on your feet and this is when it’s time to replace them.

3. Your Feet Are Sweating

The last thing you want is to feel hot and uncomfortable on a shift.

If your feet are sweating in your shoes, it could mean that the material they are made from isn’t breathable enough.

In this case, it’s time to switch to a new pair.

4. Only One Shoe Is Worn Out

Even if one shoe looks fine and the other shoe is torn or has a cracked sole, you should replace the shoes.

You wear them as a pair and so they need to function as a pair.

Damage to any of the shoes is non-negotiable.

Replace them as soon as possible.

5. The Grip Isn’t Good Enough

Safety is paramount when wearing nursing shoes.

If you’re consistently not getting a good grip on the floors, you should change them.

Related Article: How to Choose the Right Nursing Shoe


a nurse shoe that probably needs to be replaced
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Nurse’s shoes are an important part of every nurse’s shift routine.

But sometimes the shoes get worn out or are just not fitting right.

Rather than think that you have to replace your shoes at a specific optimal time, make sure you replace them as soon as you need to.

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