The dreaded dress code! Our student handbook says:
As future health care professionals, graduate students in physical therapy are expected to dress in a manner that exemplifies professionalism during class, during on campus activities, and in clinical situations.
As scary as that sounds, it’s really not so bad. There is no need to run out and buy all new clothes! (Unless you only wear yoga pants and track suits. I mean–respect for that, but gotta keep if profesh now). There are tons of ways to make clothing you already have work.
Let’s go over some of the big things:
- Plain t-shirts are definitely okay. Shirts with logos or writing are not (unless it is the Regis PT logo!).
- There will be a Regis PT clothing order in the fall! The bookstore only has one thing that says “physical therapy” on it, so don’t worry about buying that–wait for the clothing order! Items purchased from the clothing order can be worn to class.
- Buying a lot of basics that you can mix and match is a really good idea. If you have a few pairs of good pants, a variety of colored tops, and good shoes, you can make dozens of outfits. Scarves and jewelry can always be used to accessorize and liven things up.
- Shoes must have backstraps! Things like Chacos or Tevas are fine, but they need to have a backstrap.
- Invest in some quality shoes. Sneakers are allowed in the dress code, and you are going to be wearing them a lot. Find some that give you good support, but can also look okay with your class clothes.
- The main lecture hall—you’ll come to know and love it intimately—can go from freezing to a sauna within 15 minutes. Having layers to put on or take off is always a good idea.
- You’ll notice that the dress code mentions things like facial piercings, odd hair colors, and tattoos. While I wouldn’t recommend getting 7 facial piercings and 4 new tattoos, this isn’t something to worry about! Many members of the current student body have tattoos and facial piercings; that being said, keep this in mind when finding clothing for class. It’s okay to have them showing in lab, but try your hardest to keep them covered for lecture.
- Lab clothes are generally exercise clothes. If you only have one pair of running shorts/leggings, this might be the time to get a couple more. You will wear these clothes a lot! You are expected to bring your lab and professional clothes to switch between classes, but you all will have lockers if you want to keep clothes on campus.
- For anatomy lab, most people wore scrubs or sweats. Whatever you wear, do not plan on wearing it ever again. The scent of the lab will never leave.
What it really comes down to is this: how do you want to present yourself to your classmates and professors? If khakis, sneakers, and a solid color t-shirt are your comfort zone, awesome! If it’s a skirt and blouse, great! If there’s a collar, lovely! Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to change your entire style. Wait and see what you find yourself wearing to class and what you find comfortable, and do your shopping after school has started.
Keep in mind that this is the clothing you’ll be using when on clinical rotations and at conferences—think about what will make you be the most comfortable and professional clinician possible.
Finally, my classmate, Cameron, wants you all to know that Crocs do count.
If you have any questions, feel free to email me at email@example.com!
One thought on “Crash Course: How to Dress for PT School”
Whether student’s like it or not, they are going to be judged by their patients on their intelligence and capability based on their appearance and professionalism. When dressing for school and clinic one should ask”should I” not “can I” wear x?
Young people are already disadvantaged by lack of experience, this is an opportunity to improve patient perception of competency.
Facial piercings, t-shirts, sandals and shorts may be allowed, but do they exude professionalism and intelligence?