It has been said that you can’t judge a book by its cover. But what about a registered nurse? Apparently the same holds true, according to a comprehensive study conducted by a Pennsylvania medical center that was interested in gauging what patients think about their nurses based on dress code. The results were so surprising that the Geisinger Medical Center completely revamped its dress code to answer patient concerns.
Geisinger surveyed some 400 patients regarding the attire of those who provided care and treatment. Prior to the survey, the hospital had close to six-dozen different dress code policies that essentially ruined any hope of uniformity among nurses. The result was a nursing staff that could embrace everything from hoodies to T-shirts rather than more professional attire.
Even more importantly, the survey revealed a certain level of anxiety among patients who, because of non-uniform dress, could not distinguish between a licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, or physician assistant. They never knew what level of professional they were dealing with because clothing did not identify healthcare providers as such.
The Geisinger Solution
To their credit, management at Geisinger took to heart the results of their survey. They studied the results, talked about possible solutions, and determined that a uniform dress code policy was necessary. All nurses are now required to wear approved scrubs that include identifying embroidery on them. Patients can now look at a uniform and see an actual title like ‘registered nurse’. Nurses can also elect to have designations of their specialties embroidered on the left sleeve.
Officials at Geisinger insist that adopting uniform dress policy is an effort to improve the patient experience. This makes perfect sense. If a patient is confused about who is treating him or her, that confusion is addressed through a caregiver uniform that includes an easy-to-read title and the hospital’s logo.
A More Professional Setting
Another benefit of adopting the uniform dress code is to create a more professional environment at Geisinger. This is so very important, as the study showed. When dress policies are so lax that registered nurses and physician assistants are coming to work dressed in T-shirts and hoodies, it gives the impression to patients that those treating them do not take their jobs seriously. That may not be the case, but patient perception does play a role in the eventual outcomes.
A uniform dress policy sets a professional standard all the nurses at Geisinger can follow. A uniform makes them easily identifiable and adds an extra level of professionalism that instills confidence in their patients. Overall, it’s a good move for everyone involved.
Geisinger Not Alone
We should note that Geisinger is not alone in its attempt to find out what makes patients tick. According to Fierce Healthcare’s Zack Budryk, leaders in hospital management are incorporating patient opinions in their strategic planning in greater numbers than ever before. They are coming to realize that improving patient outcomes starts by figuring out what their patients think. The decision to institute a uniform dress policy is just one of many different strategies that hospitals are adopting nationwide.
Does it matter how a registered nurse dresses for work? Absolutely. Just like past studies have demonstrated patients have more confidence in doctors who wear white lab coats, those same patients have more confidence in registered nurses and physician assistants dressed in an appropriate uniform – usually scrubs.
What healthcare facilities are now discovering is that something as seemingly insignificant as a dress code actually goes a long way toward creating a positive perception among patients. And when perceptions are positive, outcomes usually follow.
Fierce Healthcare – http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/healthcare/patient-feedback-leads-geisinger-to-rethink-uniforms