Developing an Appropriate Dress Code Policy

How to Write a Medical Office Dress Code Policy

Working in the medical office requires the same professionalism as another other business office, but also with consideration for infection control and inspiring confidence in the patients served. Medical office employees must be made aware of the guidelines for dressing appropriately in this setting. Management must develop a dress code policy to include in the employee handbook and policy and procedure manual.

Developing a Medical Office Dress Code Policy

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Management's responsibility is to teach, model, and enforce the dress code policy to maintain a positive reputation with patients, colleagues, and the public. The dress code policy should be enforced not only to maintain a professional atmosphere but also to comply with standards of safety and hygiene.

  • Describe the importance of cleanliness and neatness in the workplace
  • Describe the importance of wearing the appropriate attire including the employee's photo ID badge. ID badges are more than just a clocking-in and clocking-out tool; they are used to identify employees.
  • Describe the importance of grooming hair, mustaches and beards, hands and other physical appearance
  • Describe the importance of wearing regulation uniforms such as scrubs for clinical employees and business or business casual attire for administrative employees

Dress Code Policy Elements

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The policy should include some variation of the following:

  • Standards of dress and appearance must be communicated during the interview process, new hire orientation, and during group or one-on-one meetings as needed. 
  • Some duties may require uniforms, scrubs or safety gear as needed.  More specific requirements should be identified based on job role or necessity.
  • A high degree of hygiene and cleanliness are essential to providing quality of care due to the closeness and frequency of contact with patients, colleagues, and the public, even for back office employees.
  • Failure to comply with dress code standards should result in progressive disciplinary action.

Dress Code Guidelines

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  • ID Badge: An identification badge should be required as part of the medical office staff's attire to be worn at all times and visible to the public. The name and photo should be visible at all times and not covered with stickers, pins, or other ornaments.
  • Attire: Attire should be neat, clean, wrinkle free, free from odors and in good condition. Casual or dress down days does not mean anything goes. Staff should still follow dress code guidelines (no holey jeans, etc.).
  • Hosiery and Socks: Depending on the level of contact with patients, clinical equipment, or chemicals staff may require hosiery and socks to be worn at all times.
  • Accessories and Jewelry:  Accessories and jewelry should be reasonable, appropriate for an office or workplace setting, and should not interfere with patient care or job performance.  Piercings and tattoo exposure should be at the discretion of the physician or management team.
  • Personal Hygiene and Grooming: Personal hygiene and grooming should be maintained at all times and should comply with the Infection Control policy. Some examples include general body hygiene, avoiding excessive use of fragrances, neatly trimmed facial hair, neat and clean nails (including artificial nails), and proper hand washing techniques. Note that artificial or acrylic nails are prohibited for nurses and other direct care staff due to infection control concerns.
  • Footwear: Footwear can vary based on what shoes are appropriate for the employee's job.  Employees with direct patient contact should wear closed-toed shoes at all times.  Employees with non-direct patient contact could be allowed to wear open-toed shoes as long as they are professional.

Examples of Appropriate Attire/Footwear

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Attire: 

  • Uniforms
  • Suits
  • Casual dress pants
  • Skirts
  • Casual dresses
  • Blouses
  • Dress shirts and ties
  • Polo shirts
  • Sports coats
  • Blazers

Footwear:

  • Dress shoes
  • Sandals
  • Nursing shoes
  • Sneakers

Examples of Inappropriate Attire/Footwear

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Attire:

  • Denim jeans (unless casual or dress down day)
  • Shorts
  • Leggings
  • Sheer or revealing clothing
  • Backless shirts
  • Tank tops
  • T-shirts
  • Strapless tops
  • Shirts with offensive messages
  • Fleece or flannel attire
  • Beach wear
  • Sports wear
  • Excessively tight clothing
  • Mini skirts or dresses
  • Skirts or dresses with high slits

Footwear:

  • Flip flops
  • Beach shoes
  • Sport sandals
  • Rain boots
  • Work boots
  • Excessively high heels

Other Considerations

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There are a number of considerations that inappropriate in the presence of patients. Some of these include:

  • Headphones or Bluetooth devices
  • Using personal mobile phones while in patient care/reception areas
  • Eating in areas other than the break room or lunch room
  • Sunglasses
  • Chewing gum
  • Smoking in or around the building or other tobacco products including e-cigarettes

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