Having visited several chiropractors as a patient before starting here at NUHS, I have always questioned the different ways chiropractors chose to dress. As the chiropractic profession allows for an incredible amount of diversity in all facets of patient care, it is only logical this would trickle down to every aspect of their business, including what they wear. When someone mentions a lawyer, a surgeon, or any other professional, we all have images in our heads of what they should look like. One study I found surveyed 4,062 patients, concluding “patients have important expectations and perceptions for physician dress that vary by context and region” (Petrilli et al. 2018). It is clear that completely separate from patient care outcomes, a physician’s attire can either positively or negatively affect patient perception and satisfaction. So, I ask, how should a chiropractor dress?
Some of the more common ways I have seen chiropractors dress include, more formal attire, like slacks, a dress shirt, and a tie, both with and without a white coat, as well as scrubs. I have also seen polo shirts or even apparel as casual as a T-shirt and shorts in more athletic settings. In my opinion, all branches of medicine should dress for their jobs and their requirements. Chiropractic care is both very hands on and physically demanding, but how far is too far when compromising a professional look for a more functional one? I think the viewpoints on acceptable dress codes will vary highly depending on the individual and goes hand-in-hand with the atmosphere each practitioner is attempting to cultivate in his or her practice.
Clearly, as there is so much acceptable diversity, there is no right answer. However, some professors, like Dr. Freeman, would say there are most definitely wrong ones. Whatever look you choose, make sure it represents your ideology, allows you the ability to perform at your best and doesn’t cause patients to question your professional knowledge and skills.
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Petrilli, C. M., Saint, S., Jennings, J. J., Caruso, A., Kuhn, L., Snyder, A., & Chopra, V. (2018). Understanding patient preference for physician attire: a cross-sectional observational study of 10 academic medical centres in the USA. BMJ open, 8(5), e021239. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2017-021239