Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Expanding Dress Code Requirements in the Doctor of Pharmacy Program

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Expanding Dress Code Requirements in the Doctor of Pharmacy Program

Article excerpt


We conducted a literature search using both scientific and lay (eg, Google and Bing) search engines for articles related to evidence for and against the adoption of a dress code in student health professions education and training programs. The search of scientific databases included Academic Search Premier, ERIC (Educational Resources Information Center), PubMed, CINAHL (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature), Ovid, and Google Scholar. Search terms included: attire research, education/professional, dress code, professional dress, pharmacy curriculum, professional attire, and professional socialization. Given the limited number of scientific articles specific to the adoption of a professional dress code in the doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) curriculum, we were not able to perform a systematic review of this topic. Instead, we broadened the search to include lay search engines, included articles available to us published any year, and examined the topic across other health professions and educational environments. Specific attention was given to articles highlighting experiences in the field of pharmacy as well as professional programs in health and the business sector. Finally, we examined evidence pertaining to the use of dress codes to include references in any formal educational setting (eg, primary, secondary, and university). From this literature review, a number of key themes arose as arguments for and against the adoption of a professional dress code in pharmacy education. These themes will be explored in the point/ counterpoint below.


Key themes related to the benefits of adopting a professional dress code in the didactic portion of professional pharmacy degree programs can be summarized as: (1) the potential benefits of a professional dress code on self-perception; (2) the potential positive perception of others; and (3) the potential benefits on academic performance.

Self-perception, self-esteem, and confidence are factors that can influence how people develop personally and professionally. The way individuals dress has the potential to affect how they perceive themselves. As one example of the effect of dress on self-perception, 222 college students from diverse majors were asked to rank their perceptions of how responsible, competent, knowledgeable, professional, honest, reliable, intelligent, trustworthy, hardworking, and efficient they felt when dressed properly vs not properly relative to the work environment. (1) The results showed a significant and positive association between proper dress and each of these 10 occupational characteristics. Another study assessed dress preference and self-perceptions among 91 graduate students in three different master's of business administration (MBA) programs who had worn formal business, business casual, and casual attire at some point in their history of employment. (2) Students were asked to rate 16 different work-related perceptions while thinking about being dressed in each of these three styles. Interestingly, students perceived themselves to be more productive, competent, authoritative, and trustworthy when dressed in formal business attire in the workplace. These studies have important implications for the adoption of a professional dress code in pharmacy classrooms. They suggest that dressing in a professional manner may improve a student pharmacist's self-perception as a professional, which is an important step in building a culture of professionalism. If students perceive themselves as more professional while wearing professional attire, then enacting a dress code throughout the curriculum and cocurriculum may be one means to support their professional development.

The clothing one wears can communicate strong and powerful messages to others, influencing the "first impression" a person makes on others. Both positive and negative judgments are made about people because of their physical appearance--sometimes within seconds. …

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