You spend thousands to make your office space look professional, comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. Your equipment, furniture and decor look like a million bucks. How about your staff’s appearance?

Many practice owners allow their staff to dress however they wish. As a result, employees wear pink scrubs, multi-color scrubs or scrubs with little teddy bears. Others wear business clothes or casual clothes.

As a result, your practice’s first impression is not that great. The staff look sloppy, disorganized and unprofessional.

When all the staff wear the same uniforms, you enjoy several benefits.

● You create a better first impression for new patients.
● Patients know who works there.
● Staff save money on work clothing.
● Arriving on time is easier for your employees as they simply put on their uniforms.
● Uniforms give everyone a sense of unity; they feel more like a team.
● Your office looks more professional, better organized and cleaner.

Big businesses know the value of uniforms. For example, you know Century 21 agents because of their gold-colored jackets. The black-and-white shirts of Foot Locker employees are unmistakable. Every fast-food chain has its own employee uniforms.

Players in professional sports teams come and go, but the uniform stays the same. The fans even wear them to feel part of the team. Imagine how little support a sports team would have without uniforms!

Uniforms raise your team a notch higher than practices without uniforms.

Which Type of Uniform is Right For Your Practice?

Some practice owners are not certain how they and their staff should dress. A good way to decide is to consider the atmosphere you wish to present. Do you want a professional image or a clinical image?

Cosmetic practices (dental or medical), dermatology practices and laser-vision practices do better with business attire. Elective-care patients equate a posh office and well-dressed employees with the doctor’s skills.

Practices that focus on medically-necessary or dentally-necessary care usually choose uniforms or lab coats. Patients who are concerned about their pain or health conditions feel reassured by a sterile, clinical appearance.

Ten Suggestions

  1. Select a uniform system that is not unpopular with your staff. It does not need to be popular, but it cannot be unpopular.
  2. Select a uniform that does not clash with the colors of your office. For example, if your office decor features soft brown tones,bright blue shirts might look awful.
  3. Ensure the staff do not object to the color choices. For example, medium to dark blue and black look better on most staff members than light colors like white, sand or beige.
  4. Provide tops and bottoms to all staff.
  5. Rather than have staff members change clothing at the office, provide one uniform per day they work each week. For example, a staff member who works five days per week is issued five uniforms; one who works three days per week receives three uniforms. They can then wash them during the weekend. Consider also using a uniform lease or rental service program. As well as picking up, cleaning and delivering the uniforms, the company may repair them as well.
  6. Have your practice name embroidered on the uniforms.
  7. Have staff wear professional name badges showing the practice name, employee name and position.
  8. Get matching lab coats for staff to wear if they feel chilly.
  9. Get matching lab coats for the doctors to wear.
  10. Put your uniform policy in writing and enforce it. Do not discriminate against either gender in your office policy. For example, do not require female staff to wear uniforms and male staff to wear professional clothing. Sample wording: “Employees who appear for work inappropriately dressed will be sent home and directed to return to work in proper attire. Under such circumstances, employees will not be compensated for the time away from work.”

When in Doubt, Go with Lab Coats

Many patients believe you know what you are doing if you look right.

According to 31 studies summarized in the Archives of Internal Medicine (2003;163:1277-1281), patients first want you to be clean and neat. And then they prefer you wear a white lab coat and name tag.

According to most patients, proper dress for a healthcare provider does not include business jackets, golf shirts, jeans, sandals, sneakers, excessive jewelry and so on. Surgical scrubs are also inappropriate office dress for a doctor, per the report.

A white lab coat worn over professional attire, such as a dress shirt and tie for men and a white lab coat worn over businesslike clothing for women, gets the highest marks from patients. This same opinion is shared by all types of all age groups, even children, and in all parts of the USA.

In large practices and hospitals, a name tag is also part of the preferred image.