Tuesday, August 17, 2010

27 Dresses

Hey all,

I don't know if you have noticed this, but my mug is now at the beginning of the blog. The powers that be thought it would be great to show you who is writing that particular day, and I thought it was a good idea, considering I like to look at my picture. And if you are new to the blog and want to know what I looked like 5 years ago, then there you go.

I had a pretty good weekend. I finished my book, A Land Remembered, and it was fantastic. My son is now reading it. For the most part, it is family friendly; it has a couple of cuss words in it but it was too good for me not to want him to read it.

I started a new book, Jim and Casper Go to Church. Have you ever heard of the book I Sold My Soul on eBay? Well Jim is the guy who bought the soul on eBay, and this book is about his next project.

I also watched the movie Adam this weekend. This is a romantic comedy about a man with Asperger's syndrome. It is pretty good. Remember As Good As it Gets with Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt? I really like this movie but the thing that I never got about the movie was the end. They end up getting together but she never really does accept him as him - she just kind of overlooks his issues. And with Adam it was the same thing. I have my issues, what can I say?

Today's topic is about how we dress at work. I got into a discussion with one of my best friend's parents. They are really great people and we all enjoy each others' company, all six of us. They were in town visiting my friends and the grandkids and they usually come over to hang. Around the lunch table we got into this discussion about how people dress.

This is how it got started... She is a therapist/counselor. And some guy came in and she asked her patient how he came about coming to her. This patient said that he went to another counselor and the counselor was wearing jeans, and Birkenstocks and had long hair with a ponytail and he was turned off by the unprofessional look. A long discussion about how professionals dress ensued.

Let's look at me for a minute "Look at me, look at your man, look at me, now back at your man." (I love that commercial.) In a professional/relative sort of way, I have always been on the mild side of anti-establishment. But as I am getting older and more wiser I am getting more and more pro-establishment (say it ain't so, doc).
I have always worn a scrub top at work. That is, slacks on the bottom and a scrub top.

About 5 years ago, I got a bit more intentional. We now wear khaki pants and a black monogrammed scrub top (khaki monogramming). I wear a black t-shirt under my scrub top and it looks pretty good, if I do say so myself. My assistants now where khaki uniform pants and a black monogrammed scrub top as well. And when I graduated, I established "Casual Friday". That is, everyone can wear jeans and any type of black shirt. I mostly wear a black T-shirt (one of my Dentistry from the Heart shirts or a "Got Teeth" shirt) on Fridays. I will occasionally wear a black polo shirt on Friday.

My friend's mom went on to say she remembers when "bank tellers used to wear suits,"
but she went in the other day to the bank and one of the fellas working the counter had a sports jacket on. When she was called up, she mentioned to him how good he looked, and they got into a conversation. He went on to tell her that the bank management does not allow him to wear suits. Even banks are dressing down.

In our discussion, I gave her my reasoning for the "dressing down" at my office. I told her that dentistry has always been a profession that has intimidated. The dental office is not always people's favorite place to visit. People were, and sometimes still are, afraid to come to the dentist. I have always felt like it is my duty to make everything more comfortable in coming to the dentist. So this is the way I approach most things at the office - my personality, the way I talk to patients about a procedure, the way I talk about money.

The older guys had always worn a shirt and tie and a white lab coat. And it used to be kind of a "sit down and shut up" mentality (I am not saying that this is bad, I am just saying it is). My reason for "dressing down" is to try to make my patients more comfortable with me and my office. I have a really nice office with nice furniture and nice things to look at in my operatories. I am trying to be a guy that is on their level - a regular guy, just like them. I know this place can be intimidating and I want them to know that I will do my best to make them as comfortable as possible.

Now, I have some friends that work in Winter Park, which is the real nice section of town, and they wear shirts and ties (at least pressed shirts, not always ties). And it really does look classy. I can see how the way they dress makes a statement about themselves. I see them and I think, "This guy has got it all together." That is the other side of the coin.

But there are guys that take my approach and over do it. Like church. Church is kind of swinging to the more casual. It use to be "Sunday best," but the mindset probably was that the church was alienating the people that couldn't afford suits.
So to make church more appealing to the masses, people just dress nice. So now everyone dresses in slacks and a polo shirt or slacks and a button down shirt. And I have even see some shorts and flip-flops lately. And that's just the guys, now the girls. Lord have mercy on what the girls wear nowadays. I can't say anything other than that because I know I will get edited. But the filter is getting wider and wider.

So back to dentistry "Look at your man, back at me, back at your man, now back at me." (I laugh every time.) People can take the casual, the "don't want to intimidate you" look all the way to unprofessional. I mean even turning people off. What am I saying to the guy who comes in to my office and he is a small business owner and wearing a suit and he is ready to spend a ton of money on his teeth and he just happens to show up on a Friday? Am I turning him off?

What about the VP of the local hospital and she is wearing a power suit and I am dressing down? Are they feeling "comfortable," or are they going to find another guy who is going to take his business seriously?

I don't know the answer. I know how I want to make people feel but I also know that the dress I choose can affect the way people feel about me. And as a young guy trying to find his place here, I might have to change my mentality.

Think about that... Then tell me your thoughts; I really would like to hear them.

Have a great Wednesday and I will see you on Friday,


jayber said...

this from the doctor that wears a gator jersey to church (as long as his wife isn't with him)???

drbecker said...

I prefer to dress professionally but I am too practical to dress in a suit or expensive shirt while elbow deep in daily dentistry. I cannot count the number of shirts etc that have been ruined from impression material, not to mention what do you do if you have a splattery extraction and the shirt is no longer presentable? I have cream colored clinic jackets (long sleeved) over pressed scrubs. (extra scrubs/jackets in my office) We pay extra for the ironing but it makes for a more professional look without bankrupting me in the wardrobe department. I wear suits/skirts/hose to all professional meetings and require professional dress from all staff (this is unpopular,...) who accompany me. If all I was doing was consultations, I would wear a suit or business attire, but I am WORKING!!! Dr. Cynthia Becker DDS MAGD

gatordmd said...

Your honor I object.
I would like that last statement stricken from the record.

In my defense I have only worn the Gator Jersey to church twice and both times it was during a Final Four run. And the jersey was UNDER A SPORTS JACKET....Sunday best!!

Oh and we won the championships both times....so plan on seeing it again real soon, I hope.


jamie said...

so here is my raging "anti-establishment" comment...i'm of the belief that people come to see me because they've heard that i'm "a good dentist". i have been wearing the same 10 pairs of green "hospital style" scrubs since graduation ten years ago (i know, i'm cheap). anyhow, i'm wearing flip flops all summer (i know the supposed infection control faux pas, but whatever), and croc-style birks all winter. if i decide to grow my hair to my shoulders and wear a ponytail, or not shave for 4 months, i do it....you know what - people don't seem to blink. i'm absolutely sure that i've made first impressions that people say "what the...", but i honestly don't care. my job is difficult enough without trying to be everyone's idea of a perfect dentist. don't cave to the masses who want you to be what they want a dentist to be. be who you want to be, and be comfortable. remember the old sprite slogan "image is everything"...that's garbage...image is nothing. good work, being a good guy, and remembering where you came from is everything. i will NEVER be one of those "brick in the wall" dentists who kisses everyone's rear ends, with the fancy office and all buttoned down perfect. i know a lot of these guys, and i hate to say that their egos get bigger as they get more and more "succesfull"...they start to believe what they are "selling". i've worked in small towns and bigger centers, and prefer to treat the "average joe". people will gravitate to who they feel comfortable with...and not everyone likes the same thing.

john, if your personality appeals to people of all sorts, then it doesn't matter one bit what your image looks like...as long as you are comfortable with it.

Cesar said...

Great topic, John. i am all about being yourself and comfortable, and by all means, if a flippy floppy is the image you want to convey, go right ahead.

But folks, let's not dis the guy who respects the profession, and perhaps cares that not too long ago we were taken a bit more seriously than the dude at baskin robbins.

Please do not assume because i clean up every morning before i go to work, wear slacks with my lace-up shoes, leave the OR scrubs for the (surprise) the O-R, and have been known to wear a tie, in my fancy office, i am kissing anyone's rear end. (man, it's all getting ego-y in here...;)

I have no doubt that your patients love you for your your high clinical skills and personality, Jamie...I commend you for going by what you feel comfy in. I'm feeling pretty snuggly in my dry-cleaned shirt as i write this :)

goostardmd said...

Amen to what Jamie said! I remember going to several practice management seminars when I first graduated and having them tell me how important my shoes were in making a good first impression with the patients. I also remember thinking, if someone's sole consideration of using me as a dentist is based on shoes, I don't want them as a patient. I wouldn't run them off but I'm using my personality and skills and reputation to build a relationship, not my shoes.
And yes, I've seen John wearing that obnoxious blue and orange t-shirt to business meetings of the AGD and was embarrassed for him. lol

Suzan said...

Right on dude! It's time world leaders, bankers, lawyers,the president of the Olympic Committee, Nobel prize winners, the queen of England got off their high horses: flip flops, crocks and don't shave. While we're at it, lets have breasts spilling over, pull up the T-shirts to expose navels and pull down the crotch to knees. To hell with the establishment - freedom, choice reigns supreme. What does "the establishment" know? The lament of the flower children was it not? (notice the term ...children)

Never mind the vast part of the demographic needing dentistry to hang on to their natural dentition, who were drilled, filled and billed (the former flower children) will want to trust their sizeable investment to Dr in flip flops and crocks with the matching attire in the team. (What's fair is fair!) They remember being a teenager and they've learned what they didn't know then.

Knowledge and wisdom that comes with maturity to warrant trust.. oh to hell with that... "I won't be told" - the mantra of the teenager.

Never mind the respect for those "old farts" concerns about cleanliness...the teenager always knows best!

Birds of a feather, flock together! I think a few piercings and tatoos would really be cool!

jamie said...

Wow, ruffled a few feathers did I?

susan, you win...i felt so bad after reading what you wrote, that i dusted off my razor, burned my sandals, bought some khakis and a couple ties, signed up for charm school (hope they have a basic personal hygiene course), joined LVI, and put on some re-runs of Happy Days...good times! we should hang out...you seem really fun and open-minded.

yup, great analogy of comparing what we do to world leaders and noble prize winners...oh, and lemme guess...if a 65 year old heart surgeon or olympic committee member sports a beard, he looks distinguished. me, i'm a 32 year old unhygienic hippy. interesting! oh, and last time i checked, no one in their right mind cares less what a noble prize winner LOOKS LIKE!!! i'm pretty sure that they win the prize for their substance rather than their high style, and sticking to the the "social rules".

if you haven't guessed, i don't work downtown in a big city, and probably never will. i've been on 2 dental mission trips where you sweat standing all day in shorts and sandals and pull teeth for people. pretty sure they didn't care what i was wearing. gives a certain perspective to what dentists do. WE DRILL TEETH!!!! what has our world come to where image matters so much?

and kaz, no need to get so defensive...shave and wear your tie, 90% of dentists do. i realize that i am in the very small minority. i'm not fooling myself. my point was that image is no where near as important as our society makes it out to be. caring about patients, not pushing treatment, and enjoying work every day is what's important.

if your patient base demands that you wear certain clothes and act a certain way, then do it. my patients don't. blue-collar guys want someone who will be straight with them, with no b.s. ...that's me. i've never done a veneer, and have no desire to do one. i'll never be rich from dentistry, and that's fine by me. if it happens that i get a job a on rodeo drive dental clinic, i guess i will have to break down, shave, and wear some nice duds...so be it. until then, i'll do what i do.

i'll leave you with this john. if you were the only dentist in a small city, were fully booked over 3 months in advance, had to stop taking new patients because you couldn't keep up, and these patients were doing the whole spectrum of treatment (from basic to full mouth), what would your office look like and what would you wear? your patients would appreciate YOU because you are there, you are honest, and your work in second-to-none....

i kinda think that if this were 2006, we wouldn't be talking about this topic.

Suzan said...

THE EMPORER HAS NO CLOTHES! While I was shamelessly flippant and facetious,pardon me but I'm happy to have struck a chord!

Jamie - A truce - seems we have common ground - we share a passion for authentic, quality service with integrity!

Like peeling the layers of an onion, we're starting to get to what really matters. Please bear with me.

By the time you graduated Jamie, for the first time in it's history, the profession was treating ugliness as a disease. We were already moving towards the commoditization of dentistry and had debated (and overcome) all the sins associated with profit. A health profession grew out of the barbershop. Then came dental insurance which became more important than speaking of health and when insurance all but dried up there came another tack; come get your bright, white jiffy teeth here, taking the profession back to competing with the likes of barber shops!

Some of us "old farts" have some insights about facing the challenge of commoditization, of health centered paradigms and have spent years learning how to truly serve with soul.

With millions of dollars spent on advertising to dentists, they were drawn and others followed like the pied piper to the town of "come get rich quick and easy" It seems however, that some are finding the emporer has no clothes.

For as many years as you are old Jamie, some of us have been and remain committed to champion authentic, health centered service; of both clinical and non clinical excellence.

With passion like yours Jamie, perhaps the health profession of dentistry can be brought back from the brink of extinction as institutions of truly higher learning struggle to get the attention of the younger crowd.

Trust me, we are just as frustrated and as heart sick as you seem to be.

However, attire isn't really the issue at all is it? Beyond that which is skin deep, (or over the skin which is even less important) are the more important(and yes, "old" ones) such as; "to whom do you owe what?", "how do people perceive "work that is second to none"? and "just how does one go about helping people choose health over say a 70 inch, high definition, LCD TV..or should we?

Some dentists are burning out, some are doing numbers on the ceiling at night wandering how to get out of the swamp and some long to find work that has synchronicity with their souls. Some have been to boot camps and others find that getting people to say yes is setting off crap detectors.

My point was simply that no more than attire will be effective in the fulfillment of any mission to make a meaningful difference... a selfish ego centric stance will not serve either; be it for chabby or chic or anywhere in between.

And yes, I do believe, we do no harm by starting with an appearance that most associate with knowledge, competence and capability.

A relevant story; this is a dentist who is the only dentist for many miles around; is booked months in advance and is on call 7/24 and he serves with heart and soul. He wears a tie, has an outstanding facility because his clients he believes, deserve no less than his very best. Some drive past the door of many dentists en route on a half day journey because they seem to appreciate not just his tie but who he is. They are grateful to have access to something they would otherwise think "above their finanicial capability"

Now that's what matters; your why and your being in your profession rather than your doing and what you're wearing.

Keep the faith.

Anonymous said...

A little late to this party but someone should let jamie in on a little secret....crocs are weak. Unless you are a little girl, a woman, or an orderly at a some retirement community, wearing anything like crocs is just plain....well, in the context of this blog I'll just let you imagine the language that should be used to describe crocs and the people who wear them.

gatordmd said...

To whom it may concern,

I got into blogging because I wanted a place to share my view without getting ripped on by others that had a different view than I did.
We can disagree. We can make fun of others but I don't want the comments be mean spirited.
I some of them have bordered on such so I just want to put that out there.
I know it is better reading when people go at each other (see the popularity of MMA and Dentaltown) but I want to make this a safe place.
Boring maybe but safe yes.


Suzan said...

Point taken John. If you read backwards, some will notice that Jamie and I had a rather lively debate. He and I connected privately as I sensed he and I were more on the same page that might have first seemed evident. Quickly, we both recognized we share a passionate concern for authentic service. Break down before break through as the saying goes. We entered in to it with mutual respect in our hearts and pure motives. We were willing to debate it all the way through. Not just slam and run. There's a big difference between being abusive and being open with thought and inviting discussion and debate. The motives effect the action.


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