Professional attire for doctors has seen some major evolution over the years. Did you know, for instance, that in the (not so distant) past, doctors use to dress in black? It’s a bit morose to imagine, isn’t it?
When just about anyone thinks of a doctor today, they immediately think of the classic white coat. What’s more, today we also have a growing number of studies looking at the effects of doctor attire on patients. Who knew that would become a thing of study?
From doctor labwear of old to the contemporary designer white lab coats, as well as what doctors tend to wear under them, we’ve got it all for you to breeze through here in this article on Dr James.
Back to black—why did doctors wear black attire?
Just over 100 years ago, doctors preferred to wear formal black attire to represent the serious nature of their work. The entire practice of medicine and the perception towards doctors then were very different than today. In fact, before the 1900s, a visit to the doctor was rarely a good thing. Mortality rates were still high, and medical procedures often involved enormous pain and could result in infections that killed patients before their other ailments did.
The biggest transformation from that image of doctors (and the science of medicine) came in the early 1900s and was fueled by the invention of antiseptics and sterilization. After those world-shaking breakthroughs, doctors adopted the white lab coat from scientists of the day (who were increasingly respected at that time) to reflect the transition from the “old days” and methods to the new ones.
Since that time, however, the white lab coat for doctors—along with the science of medicine—have continued to evolve at an astonishingly rapid pace. The current state of medicine, with all its technological breakthroughs, patient satisfaction scores, and the strive for performance, requires professionals to be more efficient than never before.
Can doctors’ attire play a role in their efficiency? It certainly can! And that’s one of the factors we’re going to examine in this article, so keep reading. Today’s doctors’ attire should emit professionalism and scientific expertise, inspire confidence, and at the same time be comfortable and practical. Doctors should also feel good about their image.
What should doctors wear to meet all those needs? Let’s answer that by discussing what types of lab coats are the most suitable for doctors, what types of clothing is practical and comfortable under the lab coat for both clinic and hospital settings, and how patients prefer to see their doctors. Let’s begin!
How patients prefer to see their doctors
We’ll kick-start this discussion around what should doctors wear by examining patient preferences on doctor attire. We’ll see that doctor attire actually plays a role—and a serious one—in patient satisfaction.
By examining the preferences of patients on doctor attire, we will also speak to a major debate around the importance of lab coats—specifically, the debate among healthcare providers on whether the white coat lab coat is really necessary (or even hygienic).
We’ll nip that one in the bud. Check out this recent study on the patient preference for physician attire that clearly shows how white coats increase patient satisfaction and even result in better clinical outcomes. If that’s not the most important outcome right there, we don’t know what is.
The above study was conducted by testing variations of doctor attire (including formal, scrubs and casual attire) with or without a white lab coat. It had a sample of 4,062 patients and was conducted across 10 academic hospitals around the U.S. The patient preferences for attire were calculated based on survey responses across five domains, judging whether the doctor was perceived to be:
The study’s data clearly stated that physicians with an outfit that includes a white coat are preferred by patients. If you want to learn more about the effects of the white coat in patient treatment, take a look at this article.
Now that we know the white coat is an important part of doctors’ attire and of the most effective healthcare in general, let’s see what types of lab coats are the most suitable for doctors—and the reasons behind it.
Types of white coats for doctors
For over a century, the white coat has been a symbol of scientific rigor and expertise. It acts as a protective barrier between its wearer and contaminants and protects the clothes and skin under it. Moreover, it immediately distinguishes doctors from other staff members in a health care setting, providing confidence and relaxation to patients receiving treatment.
However, with so many styles and materials out there, how does anyone really know which are the best white lab coat options for doctors? The answer can be empirically broken down to three factors: materials, functionality, and style.
In terms of materials, white coats are made either by cotton or polyester (or a mix of these two blends). Cotton favors comfort, while polyester favors protection. In a healthcare setting, the top priority should be comfort. Since protection from hazardous chemicals is not usually necessary in these settings, a lab coat for doctors can be made either with a poly-cotton blend or from 100% comfortable cotton.
When it comes to functionality, the top priority are lab coat pockets. A modern lab coat should have enough pockets in clever spaces to allow healthcare professionals to carry tools like phones, tablets, pens, and stethoscopes with ease. Having much-needed tools close by and always available will help navigate the workplace easier and add simplicity and efficiency in the work routine.
Finally, in terms of style, let’s all admit that the white coat of the 21st century cannot be a simple unisex robe with buttons. In the current state of healthcare, having a professional look is very important. Another important aspect for professionals, therefore, is to feel good about their image in a work setting. There are innumerable study findings that link performance with confidence and positive psychology. Wearing a lab coat that compliments every body type will give professionals that boost they deserve.
The white coat option that includes both functionality and style, and is made with the appropriate high-quality materials, is always going to be a designer lab coat. This option allows for a white coat that compliments any body type while maintaining a professional look and, at the same time, coming with high standards in materials, functionality, breathability, and comfort.
But, what about the cost of a designer white coat? Don’t worry, you won’t have to break the bank thanks to the availability of the internet.
Here you can get a taste of an affordable and high-quality set of coats specifically made for any medical setting—hospital or clinic. These options are composed of LABTEX, an industrial-grade fabric that consists of either a 65/35 polyester-cotton blend or a 100% cotton blend. These white coats focus on providing doctors with a professional look, and at the same time keep them comfortable in their work setting.
Find out more: DR5 Ladies Lab Coat 34"
Find out more: DR6 Unisex Lab Coat 39"
As you can see, these options come at an affordable price, they emit professionalism, they offer functionality by having enough pockets in clever spaces, and their materials favor durability and comfort.
What types of clothing are practical and comfortable under the labcoat?
In a medical setting, whether it’s a hospital or a clinic, the top priority for most doctors (after personal protection) is to look professional. Not only should their doctor jacket emit professionalism, however, but so should the clothes under it.
Doctors spend most of their waking hours in front of patients. Wearing clothes that allow doctors to feel comfortable is also a priority and a factor that determines efficiency. Confidence is also key, not only in a medical setting but in any workplace in general.
Let’s take a look at what types of clothing doctors favor wearing under their white coats based on gender, and then distinguish those types of clothing that can be worn only in a hospital or a clinic setting.
Let’s start with shoes. Unsurprisingly, in a hospital or clinic setting, you’ll stand a lot. Especially if you work in a hospital setting, you could walk many miles per day as you travel between rooms and wings and buildings. As a result, comfortable shoes are a must, generally leaning toward flats.
There are plenty of flat shoe options that can complement a sense of style and keep doctors comfortable. For a clinic setting, heels can sometimes be an option since you won’t be required to walk quite as much. In any case, check whether your work setting has a closed-toed shoe policy before selecting shoes.
When it comes to attire, anything that provides a degree of modesty and fits you right can work for both clinic and hospital settings. In the process of doing examinations and other tasks, bending and lifting are part of the job. For that reason, you should avoid wearing anything that “likes to move” and fall or hike out of place. Pants are usually a good bet since they offer you more pockets.
When it comes to accessories, belts and necklaces can be considered a good option if you want to add a distinctive touch to your style. However, before wearing any jewelry, make sure that it is allowed in your work setting.
Just as we did with women’s attire, let’s start with shoes. Your shoes should focus on comfort. Especially in a hospital setting, you will walk and stand pretty much all day. The best shoe options for male physicians should have the following characteristics:
The insoles should be comfortable and, if possible, removable. When the insoles wear away, you can simply replace them instead of replacing the entire shoe.
- The shoes should have strong arch support to protect feet from suffering from excess stress. With strong arch support, your body weight is balanced in the entire foot, and excess strain on the heels is avoided.
- It is recommended to go for lightweight They will reduce the stress on your feet, and provide you with ease in navigating your workplace.
- Finally, especially for hospital settings, shoes with slip-resistant grips are usually a good option.
In terms of shirts and pants, your first consideration should be fit. Then, choose a color scheme that works well together, and make sure that your shirt or pants are neither too loose nor too tight. If the fit isn’t proper, it can mess with both your look and your comfort. As a rule of thumb, the length of your pants should reach the lace of your shoes, and the collar of your shirt should not be too loose around the neck.
If you want to distinguish your style, you can wear a tie. In this case, make sure the color scheme matches the rest of your attire and has the proper length. Again, as a rule of thumb, prefer a tie that isn’t too long or short. A tie that reaches the upper part of your belt can be considered as a good length.
Also, remember that ties are rarely washed by most professionals, but in the case of doctors absolutely need to be cleaned regularly, or else you could be carrying contagions like a noose around your neck.
Doctor attire, as well as the science of medicine in general, have undergone astonishing changes, especially in the last 100 years. The current state of medicine requires doctors to dress up professionally but also look good and feel comfortable in their attire. Arm yourself with our tips and find the coat and clothes to wear under it that allow you to navigate your work setting with ease, while boosting confidence (yours and patients’ alike) and maintaining that professional look.