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Guidelines for Professional Dress

Emory students, faculty, and staff are required to place a high value on personal behavior and appearance, including attire.  The reasons are rooted in concerns for infection control, the facilitation of trust and good communication with patients and colleagues, societal expectations, and sensitivity to diverse cultural mores and attitudes. This section briefly describes standards for dress and appearance necessary to meet the service and safety objectives of placing patient comfort and welfare first, and the educational objectives of preparing the student to assume the role of a professional health care worker.

Patient trust and confidence in the health care provider are essential to excellent acute and chronic care.  The message communicated by the caregiver by his/her dress and appearance plays a fundamental role in establishing this trust and confidence.  Students should consider the cultural sensitivities of their most socially conservative patients and families.  Physicians-in-training should present themselves in a manner that will demonstrate respect, inspire trust, and ensure patient comfort.  Body art and body piercing, which may be acceptable in some social situations, should not be worn or displayed by medical students or physicians in professional settings.

The following guidelines may help Emory students establish a successful caregiver-patient relationship:

During much of the Foundations Phase of the curriculum at Emory, students may spend time in lectures or other activities that do not involve patients.  Attire at that time should be comfortable but should not detract from the serious educational atmosphere.  When patient contact is part of the educational experience, students are expected to dress professionally. 

IMPORTANT TO NOTE: This includes actual or standardized patient encounters in the hospital or clinic or lectures to which a patient is brought.  Neat, clean, and professional attire – including a nametag when in hospital or clinic – are minimal requirements. AT ALL TIMES, avoid dress or attire that could be potentially offensive to the public, your peers, patients, staff or faculty.

During clinical rotations, the School of Medicine requires the following attire.  Check with one’s course or clerkship coordinators when you begin the rotation to learn of any additional dress code requirements needed within that clerkship as well.

General Standards

For security purposes and for patient comfort in identifying professional personnel, nametags or badges should be worn at all times.  Good personal hygiene is to be maintained at all times.  This includes regular bathing, use of deodorants/antiperspirants, and regular dental hygiene.  Avoid perfumes or colognes, as they may precipitate allergic responses or be sensitizing to patients or colleagues.

Hair Maintenance

Hair should be neat, clean, and of a natural human color.  Hair should be styled off the face and out of the eyes.  Shoulder length hair should be secured to avoid interference with patients or work duties.  Avoid scarves or ribbons (unless culturally appropriate).  Beards/mustaches must be neatly trimmed.  Unless head coverings are required for religious or cultural reasons, hats should be avoided.


Keep jewelry at a minimum, as it may have a potential for cross-infection.


Clothing should be clean, professionally styled, and in good repair.  Women should wear tailored slacks or dresses or skirts of medium length.  Men should wear slacks, dress shirt and a necktie.  Shorts and blue jeans are not appropriate dress on clinical rotations nor when a patient is present in the learning environment.  All students should wear a clean, white, jacket-length coat over their clothing (or as desired by the clerkship director).  Shoes must be comfortable, clean and in good repair.  Shoes should be worn with socks or hose. 

IMPORTANT NOTES: scrub suits should be worn in specific patient care areas only.  They are the property of the hospital and are not to be defaced, altered, or removed from the hospital.  Stained or soiled scrub suits must be changed as soon as possible; they are a source of potential contamination.