The one of us Doctors

It goes without saying when you are comfortable with someone, you are more at ease and generally more open. So when you go to a Doctor and feel intimidated by their appearance and high level of education, you may not feel comfortable in talking about all that needs to be talked about. But things are changing and depending on your personal opinion, it may be a good thing or a bad thing.

Up until about the turn of the century, when you heard the word doctor you could easily visualize white coats, ties and other stereotypical things associated with doctors. But today some doctors wear jeans and t-shirts when they come to see you. The same is true with doctors in the mental health field who have a private practice. Working in a hospital setting, there remains a dress code that matches the white coat look.

Going into a children’s hospital you may find a doctor wearing a cap that looks like an animal, or a red clown nose. This is all meant to reduce anxiety and stress as well as form a bond between the children and the doctor.

You can see this casual dress in other places and see how it sets the mood. Former President George W. Bush was a stickler for proper dress in the Oval Office. But President Obama is just as comfortable in Jeans and a sports Jersey of his favorite team. That is not to say President Obama always dresses that way, but when it is appropriate dressing down makes the connection of being ‘One of Us.’

Amazingly enough there are some groups and cultures that want to see a doctor dressed in stereotypical garments, and for that it is nothing more than the placebo effect. It is the talent inside that counts and not the packaging. Looking at the recent triage in Haiti, doctors performing amputations in jeans was a common sight. When it is a case of extreme pain or illness, how the doctor is dressed is the furthest thing from their mind. The desire to end the illness or pain overrides all including the doctor having a bad hair day.

In the area of mental health, the laid back one of us look has more than one significant positive outcome. Before a person can really open up to a doctor or other mental health professional they must first feel comfortable with the doctor. In the sense of money and time spent to get over the intimidation of a doctor dressed with a tie and other clothes that simply scream ‘I am better than you’ may end up taking several visits and hundreds of dollars in fees. To some it may sound silly but as many people see different levels in society, doctors are often seen connected to high society in one way or the other. So when someone comes in who is a low skill laborer, it takes a while to adjust and not be intimidated.

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