The excitement ratchets up the moment Laura Moreland carries two gift bags into the lab in the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga School of Nursing.
Several students rush over as Moreland starts pulling out resealable plastic bags with what seem to be small pieces of cloth inside.
“I like this one a lot!”
“I love it!”
“That’s so cute on you!”
One student even breaks out into a bouncy little dance.
Their enthusiasm stems from the scrub caps that Moreland, a student in the nurse anesthesia program at UTC, has made and is pulling from the plastic bags.
Colorful fabrics. Playful designs such as Christmas lights, Van Gogh-esque swirls and bright flowers. Saucy sayings such as “Spicy like Propofol,” an anesthesia drug that burns on injection, and one for Valentine’s Day that says, “Be Ketamine,” another anesthesia drug.
“I’ve always been ‘crafty.’ I’ve always done sort of the artsy type of stuff,” said Moreland, who grew up just south of Atlanta and graduated from Eagle’s Landing High School.
The caps also have a practical side, designed to be more comfortable than the familiar flat-blue caps whose seams can become uncomfortable across the forehead when worn for long periods of time—such as a standard nursing shift.
“I know it sounds like a weird thing, but when you’re wearing them every day, it can really irritate your forehead. So I tried to make these really soft ones,” Moreland said.
The caps are a big hit with others in the UTC nursing program.
“The basic blue scrub caps are terrible. They don’t protect your hair/head from any microbes, and likewise, they don’t protect your patients from your contaminated hair. It’s like wearing toilet paper on your head,” said Rachel Firestone, a student in the CRNA nurse anesthesia master’s program and the dancer when Moreland first brings in the caps.
“So when Laura figured out a way to add just the slightest bit of structure while also keeping my favorite aspects of soft material with loose fit and adjustable elastic, well, I could just kiss her. I’m not exaggerating.”
Moreland is a cap-making hit not just at UTC but on her Etsy site. She named her enterprise “KetamineandSprinkles,” a combination of the drug and her love of cake baking.
“We all love when she brings her delicious goodies to class. She truly brings so much joy to those around her,” said Kelly Lau, another nurse anesthesia student and lover of Moreland’s caps.
Moreland said she started making caps—which cost $20 each—in October 2022. She has sold about 400 of them across the country.
As part of the nursing program, anesthesia students work at Erlanger Hospital for on-site clinicals. Folks there noticed Moreland’s caps, too.
“I started by just making them for me, then I made a couple for my classmates,” she said. “The people at work were asking me where I got them, so I made some for them. Then I decided to open a little Etsy store, just thinking that it was going to be a fun thing to do.”
A registered nurse for 15 years, Moreland decided to pursue a degree as a nurse anesthetist in 2021. “I’ve got six months and 26 days left,” she said.
For five days each week, she lives in an apartment in Chattanooga, then heads back to her husband and two sons in Fayetteville, Georgia, for the weekend.
Her sons—14-year-old Cole and 10-year-old Logan—are part of her thriving business, helping her cut fabric when she’s home. Her husband, Adriel, bought sewing equipment so she could make caps faster and easier.
“I can probably make 10 to 20 a day now if I really sit down and focus,” she said.
Firestone has tried her share of scrub caps, trying to find one she likes. None come close to Moreland’s.
“She nailed it. Perfect scrub cap, hands down,” Firestone said, “and she found cute fabric to boot.”