Physician practice dress code: What to wear to work

Care team

It may sound like a trivial decision, but what physicians and staff members wear to work in physician practices matters, writes Griffin Myers, M.D., chief medical officer at Chicago-based Oak Street Health.

When deciding a dress code for Oak Street Health’s practice he considered what the evidence had to say about patient preference, Griffin says in a blog post for NEJM Catalyst.

“With regard to patient satisfaction, the evidence suggests that patients do care about physician attire,” says Griffin, who is also an adjunct instruction of emergency medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. The literature says patients prefer “professional” attire, in other words business casual dress with a white coat, he says. Another concern for medical professionals is attire that doesn’t easily allow for transmission of infectious diseases. That’s one reason, many physician have ditched the necktie.

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So when Oak Street Health started its practice in 2012, it ultimately decided the entire care team should wear practice-issued scrubs with personalized embroidered white coats for its licensed providers, he says.

“This ensures a professional, business casual appearance that may also reduce infection transmission. That the scrubs are provided by our practice is a perk for our teams,” he says.

And it eliminates that pesky decision of what to wear when getting dressed in the morning, he adds.

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