Sunday, July 3, 2016

Non-knitting segment: What do doctors wear?

A bit of lighthearted fashion, in celebration of the start of the doctoring life. 

Friday was my first day of being a *real doctor*. On Thursday afternoon, I was notified to pick up my long white coat (only students wear short coats), and promptly discovered that my name was embroidered incorrectly. My coats were whisked away to be redone, leaving me in a panic on Thursday night. 

What was I to wear? 

I had counted on being able to hid behind the long white fabric, but now, I would have to wear something more formal to be able to convince patients that I was competent and a legitimate doctor. My blessing/curse of a baby-face complexion only serves to enhance my youthfulness and inexperience. I brought out outfit after outfit only to banish them all back to the closet: too tight, too short, too casual. Finally, running out of choices, I went back to my med-student standards of a bright cabled sweater and black pants, with black work shoes. Boring, but safe. No one said anything on Friday, and I sighed in relief. 

I wondered what the proper dress etiquette for young female doctors were, and was delighted to find several resources already analyzing the issue: 

Corporette, a fashion/lifestyle blog for women in the corporate world, did an analysis in 2015 and the advice of several women physicians and patients boiled down to this: 
1. No messy hair
2. Dresses or suits are fine, as long as they are comfortable  and not too revealing for your day's work (bending down to examine patients, etc) 
3. Comfortable, dressy shoes are a must (no open-toes for safety reasons)

The Atlantic stated that there is no single standard for professional wear, as studies asking readers to rate clothing revealed a wide range of feedback, from profession to "smart casual", "business" to "semiformal". Which means that as long as the above conditions are met: no revealing clothing, no messy hair, almost anything may be worn. Helpful and unhelpful at the same time. 

In a NYTimes piece from 2006, Dr. Erin Marcus lamented the state of the dress code and had this piece of advice, that women should not wear clothing that was too revealing, and that makeup could help increase board scores during oral exams. While I don't know that these are necessarily useful: I would hope that most young physicians who have going through medical school have already honed their dressing skills to not be too revealing, it is definitely interesting that these issues were brought up. 

I soon realized that while these articles are helpful, I had all the answers I was looking for: good common sense. I just had to spend some time shopping. With that, I'm off to the shops! 

Edited to Add: I did find a very interesting Corporette article about appearing too young, and tips to address this issue, here. They had some good advice on makeup and accessories.  

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