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Fashion Makeover Enhances the Patient Experience

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Ukiah, CA – Social psychologists for years have been conducting experiments on how society perceives individuals that are dressed a certain way and also how clothing makes a person feel. In fact a recently published study conducted by professors at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University shows that when test subjects wore a scientist’s or medical doctor’s white coat, they performed better on tests! So it is safe to say that clothing does have an impact on how people are perceived and perceive themselves.

Taking this into consideration two lead receptionists at Ukiah Valley Rural Health Center (UVRHC), Jennifer Grossi and Victoria Brittain, developed a plan to improve consumer perception by altering the traditional scrub dress code to something a little more flavorful. “About a year ago our clinic staff [Internal Medicine, Allergy, Pulmonology, Oncology, Neurology] implemented what we called Free Scrub Friday,” recalls Grossi who continued, “We asked our staff to wear professional attire as opposed to traditional scrubs. At first we just made the change to make our work a little more exciting – but then after a while a remarkable thing happened. We started receiving positive reactions from our patients every Friday. They began to comment on our professional office apparel.”

In addition to the noticeable change in apparel, the moral of the staff also was boosted. Grossi comments, “Everyone started taking more pride in how they looked. Office staff received compliments daily and they all learned that it was a lot more fun to dress up each day.”

Regional Director of Clinic Operations for the Northern California Network of Adventist Health, Darcie Antle, was instrumental in making the change. “I really liked seeing how this initiative engaged our staff, and how it made the staff more mindful of how they wanted to represent the clinic and the service they provide to their patients. It was important to the staff that our patients perceive us as professionals. At the same time we also decided to change the title of our front office staff from receptionists to patient experience representatives. Our staff was involved every step of the way and involved in the decision making for which clothing was acceptable. Once the patient experience representatives chose the outfits, they set up a fashion show to model the clothing for the rest of the staff to show how it can be worn and accessorized.

In addition, our back office clinical staff, which includes medical assistants, licensed vocational nurses, and registered nurses who typically wear scrubs, also decided they wanted a makeover as well. The decision for staff in the clinical areas was to allow more flexibility in the color and style of the scrubs that they wear. I am so proud of our team for really taking charge of this initiative and making a positive impact on improving the patient experience.”

As Mark Twain once penned, “Clothes make the [wo]man…”

Ukiah Valley Medical Center is a regional medical center offering state-of-the-art medical imaging radiology, laboratory, in-patient and out-patient surgery, 24-7 emergency room, family birth center with level II NICU, intensive care unit, and a network of clinics including Adventist Heart Institute-Lakeport, Adventist Heart Institute-Ukiah, Fort Bragg Rural Health Center, Mendocino Family Care, Ukiah Valley Medical Center Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialists, Ukiah Valley Medical Center Optometry and Ophthalmology, Ukiah Valley Medical Center Surgical Specialists – General Surgery, Breast Surgery, Reconstructive Cosmetic Surgery, Ukiah Valley Medical Specialties-Gastroenterology, Ukiah Valley Medical Specialties-Orthopedics, Ukiah Valley Rural Health Center-Lakeport, and Ukiah Valley Rural Health Center-Ukiah network of clinics.