Maybe it's the residual effect of the ubiquitous "doctor bag," the purse that carried us through winter. Or perhaps the fashion elite are tired of twisting their ankles in the stilettos that defined glam last season.

Whatever the case, the "nurse" clog is the latest fashion craze to hit downtown New York. And apparently they're not just for nurses any more.

"As people are not getting as dressed up anymore, clogs are being translated into dress shoes," said Lester Wasserman of Manhattan's Tip Top Shoes.

Tip Top, which has been selling Dansko clogs — backless shoes that come in leather, suede and an assortment of colors  — for about 10 years, said sales have picked up this season.

The stylish shoes are also available at allheart.com, a nurse-wear site that sells a selection of clogs from Nurse Mates' sling-back "Cherry" for $34.94 to the same company's "Rainbow" clog for $52.94. And a whole list of retailers is available at Dansko.com.

But lest you imagine a sea of women dressed in short white skirts, think again. This isn't a man's nurse fantasy come true. The look applies strictly to shoes — and could hardly be considered sexy. 

According to some fashion watchers, slinky, strappy sandals, though less comfortable, are trendier and better for fun in the sun. "Summer shoes should be sexy and fun," said Annemarie Iverson, editor-in-chief of YM magazine. "Isn't the whole point to show off your pedicure?" 

But Iverson said the nurse-clog trend sounded like a "good way to wear white" and a good fit for this season's preppy trend. She also recalled a similar trend three years ago.

"Helmut Lang did them, and they were really dowdy and funny. So ugly they were cute," she said. "But it was an inside thing."

Valerie Fields, 23, a New York nurse, also remembers seeing the old-school white loafers last summer in such haute couture establishments as Henri Bendel's and Barney's New York.

"They made cute ones last year," Fields said. "But I just bought clogs to wear to work."

You can always count on downtown girls to find alternatives to the, er, white-shoe establishment. But why nurse shoes?

The clog seems appropriate this spring, when the heels have been chopped off every kind of shoe — even sneakers. And it has the same campy irreverence accountable for the bowling shoe and "army chic" fads.

But as far as real nurses are concerned, it's as simple as wearing the shoe that fits.

"They're very good to the feet," said Majella Venturanza, nurse manager at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. "They're cool and beautiful and also comfortable."