Making a Good First Impression

In some cases, a physician’s attire is functional. A surgeon’s scrubs protect regular clothes from stains and patients from infection.

Sometimes, it’s about creating a good first impression and projecting the more professional, conservative image often associated with medicine.

Go to a doctor’s office, for instance, and you’re more likely to find physicians donning a shirt and tie, or jacket and blouse when interacting with their patients. In almost all of these cases, the emblematic uniform of physicians – the white coat – is present.

This month, about 20,000 newly minted physicians will enter residency programs across America, to begin their professional journeys. Each will care for and influence the lives of countless patients.

And each has been trained to avoid “anchoring bias,” or to not to take the first thing they learn about a patient as the most important, lest they reach a biased conclusion or incorrect diagnosis. Yet few doctors or medical students consider the first impression they make on patients. And clothes have a lot to do with that.