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How Physicians and APs Dress is Important

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We’ve written before on the topic of dress and how you should be attired for a job interview. But dressing professionally for an interview isn’t a one-time thing. In fact, how you dress for that interview should reflect how you’ll dress on a day-to-day basis.

Based on the findings of 30 recent studies, healthcare organizations are wise to judge you on your attire, since “how a physician [and we’ll add, advanced practitioner] dresses has a bearing on patient compliance rates and patient satisfaction rates,” reports Lena J. Weiner over at HealthLeaders Media.

“One recent study released this week in The BMJ (The British Medical Journal) suggests that a conservative and professional style of dress—complete with the quintessential white coat—is where trust, patient compliance, and patient satisfaction begin,” Weiner writes. “The study finds that the majority of patients prefer physicians in professional attire, as defined within the study as ‘a collared shirt, tie, and slacks for male physicians and blouse (with or without a blazer), skirt, or suit pants for female physicians.’”

As with your job interview, the first impression you make on a patient determines much about your effectiveness as a physician and an advanced practitioner, which is yet another reason why an employer should be concerned about how you look for an interview.

The study referenced above was led by Dr. Christopher Petrilli, an internal medicine resident at the University of Michigan Health System. He and his team “analyzed 10 U.S. studies on dress expectations for physicians, six of which found patients had no preference for professional attire or scrubs—a trend likely to continue as younger, more casual physicians enter the workforce. But American patients over the age of 45 still ‘strongly prefer professional attire.’”

Petrilli told Weiner that he and his colleagues realized there was no evidence-based data for how they should dress, and with younger physicians dressing more and more casually, he thought it was time to gather information that would prove the white-coat-and-tie tradition either meaningful or meaningless.

“The study findings suggests that since the image a doctor presents has such bearing on whether or not patients perceive her as trustworthy, patients are more likely to be honest about subjects such as medication compliance, their sexual histories, and end-of-life wishes when physicians are dressed professionally,” Weiner writes.

“If physician attire has even a marginal impact on how some patients feel toward their provider, leads to any increase on compliance with medication or other instruction from a physician, prevents a hospitalization, or increases patient satisfaction, then dressing professionally becomes worthwhile in itself,” Petrilli said.

As physicians and advanced practitioners who are looking for jobs, how much of a premium do you place on your appearance, not just for a job interview, but also for the job itself?

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