Have you ever gone into a business meeting wearing a suit and noticed the guy on the other end of the table is wearing a polo shirt? Or have you seen someone at the pool on a beautiful 90 degree day in long sleeves black pants? I sure have and it makes me wonder about the difference between expectations and common sense.
It has been engrained in our heads that certain situations call for a certain type of apparel. We expect in a business environment everyone will dress for a business meeting. We expect that at the pool, you wear your beach apparel. Yet other times its just plain common sense to dress a certain way. Why dress in all black when the sun is so hot and its such a beautiful day?
Medical facilities are going through these questions as well. Traditionally doctors have donned the long white coat and tie. So that’s what we’ve grown to expect of them. A nice clean look makes the doctor appear professional and therefore respected as an an athority on your health. But does this coat and tie approach follow common sense?
When we stop to think about it, that coat and tie goes from room to room, seeing sick patient after sick patient. Yet it isn’t disinfected between seeing each patient. It probably isn’t even disinfected between each day either. If you really want to get the heebie-jeebies, think about the last time you’ve washed your tie. Some would even admit to, “never.”
There have been nation-wide hospital policies surrounding this issue. Should we ditch the professional physician attire? It should help decrease the spread of harmful infections, but would you take your doctor as serious if he was in kahki’s and a button up? Some resident students have even started attending clinicals wearing jeans! Yet just because you ditch the coat and tie for something else doesn’t mean you’re transmitting less germs. It might however, be more likely to be washed.
Which way would you vote? The professional attire that you expect that comandeers respect or the attire that might be disinfected more regularly and spread less bacteria? I think that is a tough question. Either way we vote, it’s an indication that therein lies some responsibility on the physician to take a pro-active approach to work attire. Dressing professionally should not only encompass the look of their attire but the level of cleanliness as well.