May 19, 2021 Misc

Does it matter what your veterinarian wears?

A veterinarian holding a small dog

Does it matter what your veterinarian wears?

As the pandemic winds down and public health restrictions are relaxed, veterinarians are looking forward to resuming more normal clinic schedules and procedures. That means we are looking forward to a time when pet families are again welcome in veterinary hospitals. I must admit, we have been more relaxed in our daily attire during the pandemic, meaning more surgical scrub suits and fewer neckties and white lab coats. What will pet owners think when they see our revised attire?

I decided to investigate pet family attitudes towards the clothing worn by veterinarians in the clinic. I was intrigued to find an article on veterinarians’ attire and pet owner ratings in a recent veterinary journal.

General Practitioner Attire

The article in my journal surveyed volunteers from a dog park and on social media regarding the owner’s perception of veterinary attire for a regular appointment with a companion animal. Findings from this study indicated a veterinarian’s choice of clothing influenced the client’s first impression and was associated with trust, comfort and confidence in the veterinarian. Trust, comfort and confidence were highest when the veterinarian was wearing surgical scrubs. My favorite, white coats, came in second.

ER Doctor Apparel

I found a couple of other studies asking similar questions. The second study surveyed pet owners waiting for their pets in an ER waiting room. The most common response from the pet owners indicated they had no preference about how the veterinarian, male or female, was dressed, yet 25% of the respondents thought the attire of the veterinarian would influence their perception of the quality of care they provided. If there was a preference about attire, it was for scrubs or scrubs under a white coat. One possible explanation could be that when your pet is in the ER, you are so grateful someone is there to help that how they dress isn’t an issue.

Specialist Dress

Like the ER study, a third study surveyed pet owners in the waiting room of a specialty hospital. In this study, the responses varied based on gender of the respondent. Females did not prefer a particular ensemble for their veterinary specialist, while males preferred a specialist who wore a white coat. Similar to the ER study, about 25% of the respondents thought the attire of the veterinarians caring for their pet would influence their perception of the quality of care.

Best Dressed List

Studies of attire in physicians show patients want a formally dressed doctor. Owners of dog and cat patients seem not to have the same opinion about veterinarians. I did note that white coats appeared in the preference list in all three studies, just not at the top of the list. White coats have long been worn by companion animal veterinarians.

Regardless of public opinion on veterinary attire, one thing AMC doctors will be wearing for the immediate future is our masks. More on that in an upcoming blog.

Tags: bedside manner, emergency room, ER, primary care, scrubs, Veterinary emergency room, veterinary general practitioner, veterinary primary care, veterinary specialist, white coat,

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