My work apparel was different then, featuring black sneakers a pair of Levis, and a rotation of varying polo shirts. I loved wearing jeans to work, coupled with polos that were comfortable and easy to move in. Convinced that patients would overlook my appearance in exchange for my skills as a clinician, I moved freely among my patients, demonstrating exercises or hopping onto the tables to stretch them out. When I was getting dressed last week, I reflected back on that time, a part of me selfishly yearning for the days when dressing for work was easier.
My attire was a reflection of who I was, but not yet who I wanted to be. There was no effort required. Nary a reason to look in the mirror, I would don my shirt as I walked out the door to make my patients better. I listened in the car and spoke at work. I was a caricature of what my profession strives to be, a disappointing parody of the typical-“empathetic” clinician.
It is no longer important how comfortable I am; the importance lies in how comfortable my patients are with me. My attire is the outward representation of effort, reflection and respect, all the things that I strive for professionally. Sometimes, I wish I were more comfortable, but, as I transition from a clinician who gets my patients better, to one who helps them feel better, I take heart.
I still get to wear my sneakers to the grocery store.