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What does it matter what I wear to work at a veterinary clinic anyway!

Posted in Management @ Aug 10th 2017 - By Judy Gillespie, Vetanswers
What Does It Matter What I Wear To Work At A Veterinary Clinic Anyway

The most important part of your job in your veterinary team are your skills and abilities – right?

How you look shouldn’t make a difference, as long as your clothing is practical and takes into account all safety requirements, that’s all that matters – right?

Well, yes…and no.

The clothes you wear at work should definitely allow you to complete all your duties in the practical sense and should also tick all the safety requirement boxes BUT your overall presentation has a big impact on how you’re perceived by your clients…and that matters too.

What if you're not taken seriously?

The fact is that if your clients don’t take you seriously it may diminish your ability to help your patients.

Many of your clients may have the perception that someone who looks professional must know what they’re talking about and this is especially true for new clients or those you may not see frequently. They may perceive that casual attire and sloppy presentation implies a casual attitude whereas a professional appearance is more likely to inspire trust.

In general, clients are not experts in veterinary medicine and so may find it difficult to judge your level of expertise on much apart from the way you communicate and present yourself. This of course can change over time but first impressions count and if you don’t make that impression count enough, there may not be a next time.

What does 'professionally presented' mean?

What does a 'professionally presented' veterinary nurse/tech or veterinarian or receptionist look like?

Well that depends on who you ask, but your practice owner and your clients are the opinions that really matter. Firstly, your practice owner should have a very clear picture of what your practice brand is and what style of uniform and general presentation supports that brand. In turn your practice brand should be designed to be attractive to your target clients, which is why there is no one ‘right’ style of uniform for everyone in the veterinary industry.

For example, if your target clients are older pet owners with quite traditional views they may not be comfortable with casual dress, obvious tattoos, bright hair colour and piercings. However, if your clients generally hold more alternative views they may think that the bolder and brighter the better and prefer professionals with a more relaxed style that matches their own.

What you wear and how you wear it are both important

Although you may not have much control over what you wear, you do have control over how you personally present yourself and both these aspects have an impact on how your clients perceive your level of professionalism.

Uniforms may vary but no matter where you work, who your clients are or what your position is, the standard of your personal presentation should be the same:

  • Your clothing should be clean, ironed and not faded, torn or showing signs of wear – whether you’re wearing scrubs or a business shirt.
  • Your hair should be clean and styled accordingly – if your clients love your blue Mohawk then it should be an awesome Mohawk.
  • Your nails should be clean and tidy even if they are long and rainbow coloured.
  • Your footwear should be clean and appropriate for the rest of your uniform.

There’s nothing wrong with being different

One of the things we all love about the veterinary industry is that it’s full of individuals with different ideas and different passions and who quite rightly may choose to look different. But at the end of the day, you are a veterinary professional, working with your clients in a well-equipped veterinary practice where you deliver a professional level of service for their pets.

Your personal presentation should always be a reflection of this level of professionalism. 

This post was originally published in the VNJ 2016

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