is considered professional attire for staff in a medical office?
offices are usually somewhat more casual than the typical corporate
office. In the realm of business dress, most medical offices allow
the categories of General Business and Business Casual attire,
with staff falling into more of the “Smart Casual” range
of the Business Casual classification.
For women, smart casual clothing that remains businesslike
includes slacks, sweaters, skirts, blouses, knit tops, etc. Separates,
not suits, make up this category, but the smart-casual look is
chic and well coordinated. A particular office’s policy determines
how dressy the garments must be. For example, some offices do not
allow or encourage cotton pants or skirts unless they are pressed
and crisp, as many wash-and-wear cotton fabrics appear rumpled
and overly casual when they’re not ironed.
Jeans, shorts, Capri pants, leggings, and tank tops
are all too casual for medical offices. Women’s necklines
and skirt lengths should remain modest, as they should in any traditional
business environment, which the world of medicine is.
A recent CNNfn survey revealed that 64 per cent of
Americans do NOT want their doctors or nurses to be dressed in
extremely casual attire. When dressed ultra casually, the patients
said it inferred that these medical professionals:
- Did not always use good judgment
- Did not pay attention to detail
- Did not care about a high-level of professionalism
in their practice, which could easily transfer into casual or
careless attitudes about their patients’ diagnosis and
This can also be applied to office staff as dress
policies usually come from the top down. If a doctor or group of
doctors allow their staff to be ultra causal, it reflects back
onto the doctor. Patients will assume that the doctor may be disorganized
or sloppy with her/his work as well. That’s just how nonverbal
communication works. Whether accurate or not, people make certain
assumptions based upon mere appearance. If those assumptions are
negative, trust must be earned, and often repeatedly earned.
Some medical offices allow (and/or encourage) their
staff to wear scrubs or scrub-like uniforms. Scrubs can send the “authorized
medical worker” message on the nonverbal level, but it’s
important that the scrubs are pristine, not rumpled or even child-esque
with rainbows, teddy bears, toys, bows, etc. The later are only
permissible for pediatric offices or elderly-care units and even
then, they must be in top condition to convey a professional attitude.
The funny thing about scrubs is that the word itself
implies a “scrubbed” condition, but all too often they
fall far short of the mark, particularly the perma-press versions.
Scrubs were originally intended for surgeons and surgical attendants.
Now it has become common for all medical personnel that have patient
contact and/or work with agents that easily soil or stain regular
clothing (such as medicines, bodily fluids, cleaning supplies,
etc.) to wear scrubs. In most cases, medical office staff people
do not handle these items; so they have no need to wear scrubs.
Nonetheless, many medical offices adopt the policy of all workers
wearing scrubs, usually in coordinated colors, merely to project
a unified and hospital-like image. I am only in favor of this if
there is also a requirement that the scrubs be ironed, clean, and
Regardless of the attitudes in your office, it’s
dangerous to sacrifice your professionalism because what you wear
now, and how you conduct yourself now, affects your professional
reputation and your future opportunities.
Best of luck to you,