AS I WAS preparing to deliver my annual lecture to the second-year medical students, I looked out over the audience and realized that the attendees looked different from those in years past: there were a substantial number of women (compared with 5% in my class); some students were unkempt and slouched, reading nonmedical material (as opposed to the bolt-upright, fearful, and attentive position in my day); and none of the men was wearing a tie or white shirt (an integral part of the uniform of the serious student up to the 1970s). Obviously, these men and women were not aware of or chose to ignore Hippocrates' advice that the physician should "be clean in person, well-dressed, and anointed with sweet smelling unguents."1 I looked again at these differences and wondered, "Does it matter?" To answer this question, I reviewed the available literature in several electronic databases using search words such as "dress code," "professional attire," "physician attitudes,"
"white coat," and "clothing." Thirty-one articles were chosen to explore whether, reference to gender aside, the old adage "clothes make the man" still contains a measure of truth, and whether our patients actually feel comforted when they are approached by a medical person in formal rather than casual attire.
Thank you for submitting a comment on this article. It will be reviewed by JAMA Internal Medicine editors. You will be notified when your comment has been published. Comments should not exceed 500 words of text and 10 references.
Do not submit personal medical questions or information that could identify a specific patient, questions about a particular case, or general inquiries to an author. Only content that has not been published, posted, or submitted elsewhere should be submitted. By submitting this Comment, you and any coauthors transfer copyright to the journal if your Comment is posted.
* = Required Field
Disclosure of Any Conflicts of Interest*
Indicate all relevant conflicts of interest of each author below, including all relevant financial interests, activities, and relationships within the past 3 years including, but not limited to, employment, affiliation, grants or funding, consultancies, honoraria or payment, speakers’ bureaus, stock ownership or options, expert testimony, royalties, donation of medical equipment, or patents planned, pending, or issued. If all authors have none, check "No potential conflicts or relevant financial interests" in the box below. Please also indicate any funding received in support of this work. The information will be posted with your response.
Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.
Download citation file:
Web of Science® Times Cited: 16
Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.
More Listings atJAMACareerCenter.com >
Enter your username and email address. We'll send you a link to reset your password.
Enter your username and email address. We'll send instructions on how to reset your password to the email address we have on record.
Athens and Shibboleth are access management services that provide single sign-on to protected resources. They replace the multiple user names and passwords necessary to access subscription-based content with a single user name and password that can be entered once per session. It operates independently of a user's location or IP address. If your institution uses Athens or Shibboleth authentication, please contact your site administrator to receive your user name and password.