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What are they wearing?

Have a team member who’s dressing inappropriately in your practice? Here’s how to handle the situation, and ways to help you avoid it all together.
Thu, 2012-01-05 10:26 | by Renee Knight Senior Editor


Sometimes particular personality types aren’t very aware of the visual, Hurley-Trailor said, and if that’s the case taking a team photo from head to toe to complement those who are looking their very best can be a great resource for accountability.  Do it regularly and unannounced.


For a sample dress code outline, visit Hurley-Trailor’s website at

The dental office is no place to show your undergarments.

Sounds like common sense, but recently a reader wrote on DPR’s Facebook page that she was dealing with just that problem. It’s not uncommon for her to see what type and what color underwear one of the practice’s young hygienists is wearing, something she finds a bit unprofessional.

This post prompted us to seek out some advice. What is and what isn’t appropriate for the dental office? What type of dress code policy should practices have on hand? What should be done when a team member doesn’t adhere to the policy? Here’s what we found out.

Trending article: How to handle team members who have a verbal confrontation

No matter how big or small your practice, you need a dress code. Some small practices opt not to have a dress code, but that is a mistake, said Penny Reed Limoli, owner of the Reed Limoli Group. No matter how small your office is, you’re not immune to someone coming into the practice with something you, and likely your patients, deem inappropriate. It’s best to have a policy from the beginning, so your employees know how they’re expected to look when they walk into the practice.  

This policy should be in writing and be part of the office personnel manual, Image expert Janice Hurley-Trailor said. All potential hires should have the chance to read the policies before they accept the job. The dress code should outline clothing and personal care expectations, with photos included to show employees the best way to wear their uniforms.

“The biggest mistake that doctors make is to either think their team members professional appearance will never be a problem or to lead from a position of weakness – afraid that their team members will be upset with them if they are told specifically what is acceptable and what is not,” Hurley-Trailor said.  “My experience in this area is just the opposite.  Having very specific dress code guidelines and enforcing them consistently leads to team pride and reduces the inner friction that occurs when everyone is left to make this important business decision on their own. “

Remember, new patients determine very quickly if your office is for them, Hurley-Trailor, said. This is based on an emotional response they get when they meet the dentist and the team for the first time, so that first impression better be good.

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