Head to Head: Should medical schools have a say in how medical students dress? No
Deborah Bowman says that what you wear has no bearing on your ability to practise medicine, but Daniel K Sokol argues that it is an important mark of professionalism
Dress codes for medical students are becoming increasingly common. What is the rationale for such guidance? Are instructions on what is “appropriate” an unwarranted form of social control? Is there ethical justification for requiring students to dress to an externally determined standard?
Consider the case of Carla, a goth, who has a very white face and dresses all in black. She is a medical student entering her third year. She has, to date, been largely based in educational settings, although she has made a few clinical visits. Carla is able and has consistently been in the top 10% of her cohort. She is committed to medicine, contributes to volunteer groups, and has never given any cause for concern.
Before term starts, Carla’s tutor asks to see her and somewhat awkwardly explains that she has been asked to raise the matter of Clara’s appearance before she begins work on the wards.