Professional appearance at the work place is very important, including grooming and how you dress. These are among the first things a potential employer, interviewer, patient, coworker, or other health care professionals notice. You will be judged by your appearance and by first impressions, which will affect how they perceive and respect you. Proper grooming and attire is expected in a medical office and health care setting, because it supports safety on the floors, hygiene and infection control. Accepted dress code, neat grooming and professional appearance are all traits that are highly valued by employers.

Long Hair in a Medical Office

The same goes for long hair. Long hair that is worn open and loose has no place in a medical and health care setting for several reasons; it might fall into a sterile or contaminated work area, or chemical and become a source of contamination, or it can interfere with your vision. Covering long hair with a hair net, or wearing it tied back in a pony tail or up in a bun is a safety measure and safety compliance is important. In addition there is the general expectation that medical and health care staff look nice and presentable to the public, but remember, there are both long and short hair styles that can make a person look unkempt and unprofessional.

Appearance of the medical assistant
Professional attire and grooming in a medical office setting.

Medical Assistant Appearance

Grooming:  Good personal hygiene and grooming is a must. Hair and fingernails must be clean, groomed and at appropriate length and artificial long fingernails are prohibited. A discreet nail polish and neatly trimmed beards and mustaches are acceptable. Strong fragrances and heavy perfumes should be avoided.

Jewelry:  Jewelry items should be small and in good taste and not interfere with job performance. Body piercings or tattoos should be covered, or removed. Use of cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, even chewing gum in the medical office setting is absolutely prohibited.

nicely groomed medical assistant
nicely groomed male medical assistant

Beards: As far as men with thick, long beards and long hair—there might be a chance of possible prejudices of the person hiring you, even if it is nicely tied back in a pony tail. The same for earrings, body piercings and tattoos. Although there is no shortage of people with long hair in many hospital department that deal directly in clinical situations with patients a medical office is still largely run by the doctors and it depends on their personal preferences whom they will hire.

Tattoos: Tattoos are growing in popularity and social acceptance. While times have changed and #tattoos are now adorning the bodies of professional men and women alike, there was a time–and that was not very long ago–where tattoos at the workplace, especially in the medical field were greatly frowned upon, and often, still are. It was, and still is mostly rooted in the employer’s expectations and how they perceive this type of self-expression on the work place. Along came the stigma and fear of infectious diseases and lifestyle. Medical assistants were greatly encouraged not to get tattoos by their instructors and mentors, or were asked to cover them up if they had some that were visible. Even today, most major medical facilities uphold specific dress codes and appearance policies that may restrict tattoos from being visible or excessive.

2 thoughts on “Appearance”

  1. I am interested to know the source of this illustration. I am looking for similar to publish in an Elsevier textbook.

    1. I created this illustration for this website from royalty stock photos I’ve obtained from DreamsTime. ~ Mona C.

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