….and his lab coat too.
We’ve known for a couple decades now that doctors’ clothing are big germ carriers.
Experts recommend that doctors wear shortsleeves to avoid spreading germs.
But a short-sleeved, tie-liess doctor does not convey to people a very professional image.
A doctor’s dress plays a big part in our conceptions of his competence. As one doctor noted a generation ago:
“The physician’s dress should convey to even his most anxious patient a sense of seriousness of purpose that helps to provide reassurance and confidence that his or her complaints will be dealt with competently. True, the white coat is only a symbol of this attitude, but it has also the additional practical virtues of being identifiable, easily laundered, and more easily changed than street clothes if accidentally soiled…. Casual or slovenly dress is likely to convey, rightly or wrongly, casual or inattentive professional handling of their problem….”
Now we’re beginning to see reformers like Julia Hallisy (who lost a daughter to a hospital-borne infection) campaigning for a change in doctors’ uniforms.
Doctors know better than to wear germ-carrying ties. But the blame for patients’ preconceptions of what a doctor should look like. We should trust our doctors based on training and credentials, not based on their fashion sense.