Medical assistants perform administrative and clinical tasks in hospitals, medical centers, and the offices of healthcare practitioners. Employment for the medical assistant field is expected to grow by 31 percent from 2010 to 2020 to meet the demand of an aging baby-boom population. Those taking advantage of this positive job outlook should have awareness of proper attire for this occupation. (reference 1)

Dress Code Policies

Most institutions have rules regarding what they consider unacceptable attire. Upon hire, new medical assistants should receive a handbook with a detailed explanation of the official dress code policy. Medical assistants should review this policy and be aware of what manner of dress is appropriate for their clinic or office.

Evolving Standards

Dismiss the image of a nurse in a white dress, shoes and hat. Today’s health-care professionals now primarily wear “scrubs” – a general term for any medical uniform consisting of loose, short-sleeved shirts paired with pants that have a drawstring. This uniform got its name from being required attire for a clean, or “scrubbed” environment. Medical workers used to wear white uniforms to reflect cleanliness. However, to reduce eye fatigue, green uniforms became standard. Nowadays, you can find medical assistants wearing scrubs of different colors, coded to departments or positions within the health center.

What to Wear

While rules may vary between health care organizations, most clinics require medical assistants to wear scrubs. Some institutions may provide a uniform, but often employees must purchase their own scrubs at a medical supply store. Depending on your place of employment, you may have the option to wear a solid-color T-shirt under your scrubs for warmth. Medical assistants should wear comfortable foot attire, such as athletic or walking shoes, suitable for spending long hours on their feet. Avoid sandals, flip-flops and other open-toed shoes. These styles present a potential hazard should you encounter fluids, loose wiring or drop a heavy item. Men should wear socks. Women should wear socks or hosiery.

Other Notes on Appearance

Medical staff should wear their assigned security badge at all times. This badge should be worn in a visible place for purposes of identification. Do not wear hats or head coverings unless required for medical, cultural or religious reasons. Medical assistants should practice good personal hygiene and maintain a groomed, professional appearance. Minimize or completely avoid using perfumes and fragrant lotions. Maintain trimmed fingernails to reduce the risk of passing infections.

Jewelry and Tattoos

Employees should wear as little jewelry as possible to avoid injury potential. Many clinics or medical offices limit body piercing to the ears, with earrings no larger than studs. The reason for this goes beyond projecting a professional image. Loose accessories may catch on equipment or impede your ability to perform a necessary task. Many clinics and medical practices discourage visible tattoos. Oftentimes medical assistants must cover their tattoos with long sleeves, pants, makeup or bandages. If you question the appropriateness of your tattoo you should speak with your supervisor or a member of human resources.