There's been some of discussion lately around work about wearing shorts on scenes in the summer. Some providers argue that 'if they are truly sick, patients won't care what I look like when I show up.' But let's be honest, how many patients are truly sick? Sick enough to not look at you with even a slightly critical eye. Let's not forget that our patients are rarely alone, accompanied by friends, family members, or staff of a medical facility. They can see us to. Our immediate appearance must build trust with them as well.
When you walk into the home of someone whom called for your help, everything matters. They are the ones about to put their lives ino the hands of strangers. Appearing professional can come down to having your boots tied and your shirt tucked in. No, these things do not directly affect patient care. But, they do affect how your patients respond to you. Trust must be built from the first moment you walk in the door, mostly because they invited you in.
Professionalism is a compilation of a ton of things on an EMS call, but right from the start it is measured by your greeting, demeanor, and interactions with colleagues. All of this has, even if it is subconscious, an affect on how much your patient trusts you, and, indirectly, how well your care will help them. I've seen anxieties melt away from a patient with a professional greeting, introduction, and warm handshake. I've seen patient trust fall incrementally as providers enter a home with their shirts untucked, fail to greet the patient, and immediately ask which hospital they want to go to.
Whether I agree that shorts or appropriate attire, or if tattoos should be covered, the conclusion is the same: professional appearance matters. It puts us in a position of authority, builds trust and rapport, and ultimately facilitates quality patient care.