"Mom, when I grow up I'm not going to dress as plainly as you do," declares daughter one morning recently as we prepped for school (her) and for work (me).
I tell her how glad I am that she has her own sense of flare and style, and her unique way of (mis) matching. And I go on to explain that I used to have a little more flash. And then I reflect further upon what has changed, besides becoming a mother (twice), a spouse (once), a physician (took many years), a pediatrician (several more years), and a medical educator (why be anything else?)...
For quite a few years my scrubs were my clothes of choice (and necessity). And then I moved from those greens and blues (size medium please, except when pregnant) to black, finding it all too easy indeed to wear just one shade. Perhaps nearly a decade in New York City bolstered the quantity of black (including dark black, light black, and an occasional brown) in my wardrobe.
But I think it is more that while training and caring for adults in need, caring for the children of worried adults, and caring for teens entering and in puberty, it all became much less about me and much more about my patients. Much
less about me. I sought to downplay what I was portraying of myself, other than the gentle evidence-based patient and family centered care I provide.
As a medical educator, I am sometimes asked, "what's the dress code?" I'll take any question, though this is not my favorite, mainly because I don't like to micromanage what another chooses to wear. And yet one needs to think about whom they are representing... is it just yourself, your medical school, all medical schools, all trainees, the whole medical profession? There are the hospitals' policies and/or the schools' guidelines to heed, and then there is your own code. Be not your clothes, but the care you provide.
White coat or not, in pediatrics you decide. And sure, wear that toe ring (under closed-toed shoes if in a hospital) or have the tattoo... but do so for yourself, not to make the conversation about yourself. Know who you are, be who you are, but in this helping profession we must be there for others. And be open to patients of all cultures and styles.
(Even as a I take a history asking all about them, my pediatric patients find and voice plenty of questions to me --about me-- anyway! But that's another post for another day.)What is your "dress code" while in school or at work? Tweet your answer to me: @Kind4Kids