On a recent doctor’s visit, I took advantage of my opportunity to scan the office to see what everyone was wearing. I observe which scrubs brands people prefer, whether the office has implemented a common dress code and what the first impression is as a result of that dress code.
As we walked in, we were met by several receptionists who were not in scrubs at all, but rather were casually, but professionally dressed. Because of the height of the counter, I could only see the tops, but they wore sweaters or blouses, and everyone looked appropriately dressed for an office job. When the nurse called my daughter into the exam room, I realized that some of the women behind the counter were not office personnel at all, but rather were medical personnel who had paired a sweater or blouse with their scrub pants and tennis shoes. I could not help but wonder who made the administrative decision to mandate or even allow a street clothes/scrubs combination for medical personnel and more, importantly, why? It ultimately came down to 4 choices, none of which made any logical sense: appearance, expense, comfort or indifference.
Appearance was easily dismissed. Did someone in the office really ponder then decide that a nice sweater and a pair of scrub pants evoke confidence, competence and caring? I’m sure that we’ve all seen someone that has mixed two styles that should have been kept far apart such as summer and winter fashions or fabrics. The sweater/scrub combination didn’t work. I have seen medical personnel that throw on a cardigan sweater or even sweatshirt over scrubs which I assume is because it offers more warmth than a scrub jacket. Here, the top resembled the clerical staff and the bottom resembled the medical staff. Together, they screamed fashion faux pas or perhaps just fashion confusion.
With so many inexpensive scrubs options available and scrub sets as inexpensive as $10.99 for the top and bottom, it is hard to believe that medical personnel in a pediatrician’s office would rally behind a policy that preferred street clothes to scrub tops. If they are already purchasing scrub pants, scrub tops have to be less expensive than a sweater or ready to wear top. Moreover, they are cheaper and easier to launder in the likely event that something gets soiled during the workday.
Comfort didn’t quite work either because scrub tops, unless they are unusually short, are more comfortable than professional wear. Medical personnel move around a lot and it is difficult to imagine that a sweater or blouse would be more comfortable over scrub pants than a scrub top, scrub jacket or scrub top with layered tee.
That left the most disheartening reason: indifference. Perhaps someone in an administrative office made the decision having never walked into the office to gauge first impression? Perhaps no one made the decision and over time, having received no positive or negative feedback, the personnel simply wore what they wanted. I wondered where that would lead. There were so many inexpensive professional scrubs options that would have easily identified the personnel in the office and presented a professional first impression to anyone walking through the door. Kids would love the bright colors or whimsical prints and adults would appreciate knowing that they are addressing a question or concern to the right person in the office.