Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ward Fashion

Paging Dr has had some discussion on fashion amongst medical students and junior doctors. In Australia, we don't generally have the advantage of covering everything with a white lab coat. I'm no fashionista, and I recognise that there is a great deal of variety in how people choose to dress.From a practical standpoint, These are my tips for fashion in the clinical environment:

  1. Wear something easy to change. Especially if you are going to enter theatre, you don't want to have to spend forever getting changed.
  2. Wear something stain resistant. Blood, pus and goo are regular staples on the wards. You want something that you can wash, or dry-clean without breaking your budget.
  3. Wear something comfortable, or which will become comfortable. You will be working long days, and do not want to have to keep taking things on and off all the time. This is especially true for footwear. Not many of us have a luxury of an office or a locker. Having said that, if you get one, hold onto it for dear life.
  4. Avoid short skirts or low necklines. Unlike TV shows, hospitals are not a pick-up venue. You are here for work or study, and there are no janitor's closets for you to have a quickie in. Apart from what your colleagues might or might not think, you also have patients to think about. One of my interns once complained that she could not insert any male IDCs, because they would always have an erection when she came to do it. I had to explain that showing your cleavage every time you bend over might not be helping. Also remember that geriatric wards are often full of disinhibited old men. Nurses learn very quickly not to lean over in short skirts. You should too.
  5. Do not dress more formally than your registrar or consultant. Especially if you are mature-age, you do not want patients to think you are the boss. It is embarassing for you, the consultant, and the patient. On the other hand, if your consultant likes to prance around in leather jackets or looks like a frumpy old housewife, then anything goes.
  6. Avoid jewellery. Bling does not make you look more professional. Bling makes it difficult to wash your hands or to wear gloves. Bling has lots of crevices where blood is hard to clean out. Bling has a tendency to disappear.

    Don't worry if you can't remember the rules. Sooner or later you will work them out, but there might be a few unpleasant experiences along the way.

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