For all real or simulated clinical learning activities (e.g. those that involve patients or standardized patients), all students must maintain an appearance that demonstrates respect and meets professional standards.
Students must wear ID badges at all times, visibly, above the waist, identifying them as medical students. Students will receive feedback about their grooming and attire from standardized patients, faculty, course directors, and peers when their appearance does not meet expectations for professional and clinical environments. The following guidelines apply for all circumstances involving patient care, real or simulated. If a student has a medical reason that they cannot comply with the guidelines, a note from their treating provider explaining the need for an exception must be provided
- White coats should be worn, and ID must remain visible. In certain circumstances, supervising faculty may ask a student to not wear a white coat (some Psychiatry placements, for example). In those cases it is acceptable to forego the white coat, but only if specifically listed in the course syllabus or written/electronic communication from supervising faculty.
- All clothing must be neat and clean. Immodest attire or accessories may be offensive to our patients and standardized patients. Examples of unacceptable attire include: sheer garments, halter or tank tops, items designed to be worn as undergarments, oversized or baggy garments, garments such as leggings and spandex pants designed to be worn as athletic wear, soiled, torn or frayed garments, blue jeans, apparel with words or pictures unrelated to the professional environment.
- Shoes must be safe, clean, in good repair, closed-toe, and appropriate for the clinical setting. Sandals and bare feet are unacceptable.
- Moderation in jewelry, cosmetics, fragrances, and other accessories is encouraged. Tattoos are generally permissible, but any which contain potentially offensive imagery or language must be covered.
- Headgear, except required by religious belief, and headphones, are not acceptable.
- Good personal hygiene is expected. Body odor, smoke, etc. should not be detectable.
- The use of scented personal products is strongly discouraged.
- Natural nails are to be kept neatly cut and short, i.e. not past the tip of the finger. Artificial nail enhancements are not allowed. Nail polish is permitted if not chipped.
- Hair and facial hair must be clean and dry, controlled and trimmed so as not to interfere with patient contact. For example, students with long hair may wish to tie hair back so it does not fall onto or brush against patients during physical exam.
- Jeans and tennis shoes are generally not considered appropriate. A tie may or may not be necessary for men. Appropriate dress for patient interviews and preceptorships is likely something in between, with a focus on neatness, cleanliness, and the professional appearance of a physician in training caring for the ill.
Common pitfalls to avoid include:
- Torn clothing, visible underwear.
- Clothing that reveals too much skin including when you bend, stretch, or lean over (i.e. cropped, low-cut, or sheer tops; very low riding pants; etc.)
- Open-toe shoes (to avoid needles, sharps, or substances from dropping on your feet).
Patients vary in sensitivity to and in expectations about the appearance of their health care providers. A 20-year-old beachcomber may have different expectations than an 80-year-old great-grandmother. They need students to convey professionalism and respect with grooming and attire. A reasonable rule of thumb is to lean towards being conservative – for example, choose attire that most people will find appropriate.
Students will encounter variation in custom and expectations in different clinical settings. Observe other professionals’ dress. Students are guests in these settings, so they should ask if unsure of what is appropriate.