Dressed To Impress?

Jun 10,2020

It's still me!

When I was in my last year of dental school, we all had to take a class to prepare us to enter our professional lives in the real world. I don’t recall what the class was called, but it covered topics like the ADA code of ethics, what is appropriate conversation with a patient, and how to dress to impress a patient and have them respect you as a doctor. At that time, we didn’t wear scrubs in the office. Honestly, we were some of the first to wear gloves and masks! So we were told about a study that was done using actors as doctors. Some wore scrubs, some wore street clothes. Some wore street clothes with white coats, others wore scrubs with white coats. The study measured the patient’s response only to the appearance of the doctor, not how they spoke or what they said. There were 3 main things that proved to be the things that people looked for in their doctors in order to find them someone to believe and trust. For male doctors, the three things were: necktie, white coat, and shoes (clean, polished). For female doctors: makeup , white coat and shoes (clean, polished). The makeup issue was interesting. They didn’t want to see someone ready to go out at night with red lipstick and blue eye shadow, but they also rated women with absolutely no makeup not very high either. The best makeup for the professional doctor was foundation, blush, some eye makeup and light natural lipstick. I have always kept this in mind throughout my 30 plus years of dentistry.
Now, I have been thrown a big game changing plan. I had been wearing a white coat and scrubs, but with the new COVID protocol, I wear a disposable gown, and a mask – no make that a respirator – that is so critical, that once I put it on and check the seal, it doesn’t get touched until lunch break. This piece of PPE is also so important that I no longer wear foundation because the oil of the makeup will compromise the seal of it with my face. I no longer wear lipstick either. No one sees it. And if it contaminants my respirator, I have to change that piece of limited PPE. So the only makeup I wear is on my eyes – eyebrow pencil, mascara, and I have even started wearing a natural Bare Minerals eye shadow. For the disposable lab coats, or gowns, I found some white ones so at least I have the white coat. As for the shoes, those are the classic Danska professional shoe, soon to be covered in a booty for hygienic purposes. Add to this outfit a scrub cap, which I have tried to make fashionable, and a shield, and it is hard to tell who I am. My regular patients recognize me, but I wonder what new patients think of this.

A few years ago, I attended a formal dental gala with my son and daughter, and we were dressed up really nicely. We stood together for a moment and took a picture and I have that picture in my office so if you are sitting in my treatment room, you can see it. There I am in a royal blue floor length gown, with my hair up, full makeup. People ask – who is that in the picture? I have to laugh – hey that is me, in probably the best picture I have ever taken. Just so you know, that under all of this in front of you – that is me. I am still here!