How to be an Authentic Doctor #3: Dress Professionally


What does your outfit tell about you?  A lot, it turns out.  It tells patients whether you take care of yourself.  It tells patients what you think of yourself.  A disheveled doctor makes a patient suspicious.  Studies like this and this show a doctor’s attire can inspire trust, confidence and comfort levels.   Listen to what this doctor says in this article:

“I hear that patients complain that they do not know who the doctor is — no tie, no white coat, no jacket and no presence,” Dancer said. “Untidiness erodes the image of doctors as responsible and competent.”

Should it be this way?  Probably not.  Such is life.  Style should not be more important than substance but a patient doesn’t know that.  Your job is not to let your lack of attention to appearance be a distraction.

In my opinion, I have to say that primary care doctors would win the award for the worst dressed specialty.  I know because I actually pay attention to this and because I am one of them.  I would love to have gathered the best pics of family docs that I have seen over the years and put them into a montage.  It would be hilarious and may even give the famous internet video called  “People of Walmart” a run for its money.   Talk about a style being 20 years or more out of date?  These people are some weird combination of granola, grunge, and homelessness.

This is not to say other specialities are excluded.   I truly believe there could be a great reality television series mocking physician fashion. Hell, I had a field day with it when I was writing the Placebo Journal.  I also knew one doc who always wore scrubs.  Not because he was a surgeon but because of his ever expanding waistline.

And it is not just clothes.  How about cutting your hair once in a while?  Or getting new shoes?  C’mom people!  It’s called hygiene.  I used to know one doctor who had so much hair coming from his ears (yes, I said ears) that it could have been braided.

This does NOT mean I am some fashion icon in the medical world but at least I try.  I wear a tie.  I iron my clothes.  I buy new clothes yearly.  I wash things.  I sometimes wear a white coat.   I put my stethoscope on my neck.  This is basic stuff that anyone could and SHOULD do.   The old time doctors just looked good on the job.  We don’t.  Oh and forget all the BS you may have heard that neckties and white jackets are bacteria traps.  That may be slightly true for the hospital docs but it’s highly unlikely to be an issue in the office.   Don’t use it as an excuse.  If you don’t care about what you wear anymore then you’ll look like someone who may not care about anything.  And maybe you don’t?  Think about that for a minute.

49700cookie-checkHow to be an Authentic Doctor #3: Dress Professionally