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Why do First Impressions in Healthcare Matter?

Whether you are going to the doctors, dentist or being looked after by a carer, you want to know that you are being looked after by the best in the business. We have to put a lot of trust into our practitioners, after all, we are relying on them to listen, examine, and get up close and personal in a professional and educated manner. 

Similarly, our wonderful practitioners work extremely hard to make sure we feel calm and cared for. They are trained not only in their scientific profession but also in people skills to make sure the service they offer is coming from a trustworthy source. But it’s not just about their manner or their knowledge, it’s also about what they wear. 

It is in our human nature to consider what someone looks like because it is the first thing we encounter. So why is it, as humans, we naturally become more at ease when we see someone in professional attire? 

A doctor or nurse wearing scrubs is just as qualified as a doctor or nurse in regular clothes, but why are we more likely to let our guard down when faced by someone in uniform? This blog is going to explore why wearing a uniform is incredibly important in terms of a first impression, especially in the field of healthcare.

Accreditability

To put it simply, it implies they are qualified. This might sound silly, because anyone can put on a lab coat and ‘look like’ a scientist or a doctor. But in the context of a professional setting, it sets the professionals apart from the public and gives our brain a reassuring nod. Forbes Contributor, Nick Morgan says “We’re hard-wired to want the answers to a few vital questions based on those first impressions – such as, is this person that has just come into my field of view a friend or a foe?  Is he or she part of my tribe or not?  A potential mate or not?” Our clothes are an immediate possible answer to these unconscious questions our brains may pose to us in the first few split seconds of an encounter. A security guard at a large event for instance is perhaps a more obvious example. In a sea of people, we need to be able to  immediately recognise those who are there to support and help us. If none of them wore uniforms, how would we know who to ask in an emergency?

Professionalism

A uniform guarantees a smart and professional look, as well as instilling an aura of confidence within the wearer. Confidence radiates off people and helps to settle those around you, making them comfortable that you know what you’re doing. If your practitioner doesn’t look well put together or has a scruffy disposition in general, you are surely less likely to trust them. After all, they might be a total stranger to you, so our first impression is all we have to go on!

Cleanliness

Not only is hygiene a non-negotiable part of healthcare, it reflects that the person wearing the clothes takes their role seriously and they adhere to the rules of the institute. If you take care of yourself in terms of hair, cleanliness and care for your uniform, people will be more likely to trust you to look after them. A stained tunic  paired with a lack of personal hygiene is a sure way to make people feel uncomfortable in your presence!

Accountability

Workers in uniform are statistically more likely to hold themselves accountable. INC.com reports a new study, where research shows it directly impacts how you think and perceive yourself. The studys says, "The formality of clothing might not only influence the way others perceive a person, and how people perceive themselves, but could influence decision making in important ways through its influence on processing style". Professional dress, another study found, increases abstract thinking and gives people a broader perspective. You’re also upholding the values of your organisation and contributing to their core values of care and support. A healthcare worker who doesn't follow these rules, for example, might then evoke a sense of disregard to their peers and patients. By wearing a uniform, it ultimately promotes responsibility, pride and unity. 

To further this point, personalised workwear can also contribute to the idea of trustworthiness. If your nurse has their name visibly embroidered, this immediately removes one of your initial subconscious questions when you meet someone new. To use Morgan’s theory here once more “is this friend or foe…” We are far more likely to have a positive experience with an employee who feels no longer like a stranger, but an actual person with a name who’s looking to help. 

Institute

We are generally more trusting if we are dealing with somebody that is part of an organisation or institute. For example, larger more well known organisations like the NHS or Bupa, are places of care we recognise and inherently trust. Therefore, if an employee is wearing a distinctive uniform that ties them to that place, our first impression is more likely going to be positive.

At Meltemi, we provide healthcare professionals with the workwear they need to feel proud, safe and trusted. Our team takes pride in supplying some of the largest health services out there with a multitude of garments including scrubs, lab coats, tunics and tabards. 

Get in touch today to find out more about our healthcare uniforms and embroidery service, as well as any other queries you may have concerning your next order. Speak to one of our team on 01603 731330, email us at customersupport@meltemi.co.uk or use our free live chat service.