Does How Your Vet Dresses Matter to You?

High heels and jeans
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Scrubs look cool on television, but do you really want to see your veterinarian in what amounts to PJs every time you bring your pet in for a visit? What about sky-high platforms and designer jeans? Or the trail of tattooed paw prints that swirl up the nape of your vet's neck?

Many veterinarians tend to dance to the beat of a different drummer compared with counterparts in other respectable professions. Vets are bright and bookish — but we’re also offbeat and undeniably independent in our outlook. (Why else would we be so into animals?)

And, in a great many cases, our notoriously maverick sensibilities are reflected in our presentation.

Do Vets Really Need Dress Codes?

Here’s where I need to readily confess that I’ve been that not-exactly-conservatively-dressed veterinarian. Although my tattoos are well concealed, I definitely have fun when it comes to shoes. To me, being a vet does not denote ugly footwear. Besides, animals don’t care what’s on your feet, right?

But plenty of clients seemingly do.

As business consultants to veterinary practices are fond of reiterating, dressing “unprofessionally,” “lazily” or “showily” affects bottom lines. Apparently, “lacking decorum” of a narrowly defined sort — white coats and sensible shoes — means that pet owners are less willing to pay for our services.

I don’t expect the average veterinary practice management consultant to understand my penchant for five-inch platforms, but I do expect some basic tolerance from within my profession. After all, I’m open-minded when it comes to colleagues who have a zeal for clogs, loafers and other pseudo-ergonomically designed footwear.

Yet I will agree that client perception is often critical when it comes to securing trust — and that trust is imperative if I want to garner the right kind of compliance when dealing with clients. Otherwise, my ability to help patients is surely diminished.

But is it imperative that vets wholly subjugate their appearance to a code of decorum set by former generations?

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