While proper attire is important in any office, professional dress in the medical office is crucial. Maintaining a professional appearance is the key to patient comfort and trust. Below is a 4-step guide to help navigate the pitfalls of dressing for the medical office.
First off, medical office personnel deal with patients at a very personal level. They have contact with the patient physically and they have general access to highly sensitive information such as health history and social security numbers. By presenting themselves professionally, office staff provide an environment that ensures patient confidence. Patients need to feel safe in the office and that their information is being handled respectfully and professionally.
- Cleanliness is next to Godliness. It is important to have a clean and well-maintained appearance. Cleanliness is paramount in a medical office. Unclean bodies and hair can be alarming for patients, but even simple things like ripped clothing, wrinkled clothing or improperly fitting clothing can project an environment that fails to take patient health and safety seriously. Meanwhile, meticulous dress and appearance help project the idea that cleanliness, orderliness and professionalism are important and therefore, so are patient health and safety.
- Accessories. Understated accessories including hair, nails, make-up and tattoos keep the focus on the patient and not on the staff. Drawing attention with large jewelry or visible tattoos can unintentionally project the idea that the patient is secondary. Also, extreme hair, excessive make-up and long nails can give patients the idea that their health and safety is not the primary focus in the office.
- Shoes. While many medical professionals spend hours on their feet, they should exercise care when selecting footwear. Especially for medical professionals in scrubs, shoes can stand out to patients so, it is important to make sure they are not only comfortable, but maintain a professional appearance. Dansko-style clogs are good examples of acceptable shoes, while snow boots, slipper-style shoes, Converse or other athletic shoes, Uggs, cowboy boots, and high heels are examples of shoes that should not be worn in a medical environment.
- Clothing. A medical professional should wear clothing that is classic, professional, and well-fitted. It should allow the employee to project confidence and professionalism, which will in turn provide patients with reassurance that their lives are in good hands. Clothing that is revealing, offensive (as in t-shirts with messages on them), or made of any material that either sheds (like sequins or glitter) or is not considered professional (like jeans, leather or spandex)should not be worn.
By dressing in a professional and timeless fashion, the employee allows for the focus to remain where it belongs, on the patient. Employees in the medical office should consistently review their attire to make sure it projects the idea, from the patient’s perspective, that the primary focus in the office is on the safety and comfort of its patients.