Never overdressed

19 Jan 2017

A resident’s perspective on dressing for success

By: Danielle Henry

The New Year brings new goals and personal improvement is always on the list of priorities. This month we are exploring the impact of professional attire on professional and personal achievement. Oscar Wilde once said, “You can never be overdressed or overeducated.” I have taken this to mean, you should never stop learning and can never be overdressed when you look your best. We are in a profession where we are always learning, and even though we wear scrubs often, we can still find ways to look our best.

Ditch the scrubs when you can – When given the option to wear something other than scrubs, I always take the opportunity. One example is when I am presenting at the Morbidity and Mortality (M&M) conference I will often wear business professional attire. It is not required at my institution, however I have found that dressing up accomplishes the following: it makes me feel more confident at the podium, that changes my body language during the presentation, therefore improving the quality of delivery of the presentation. Coupled with a well-prepared presentation, dressing up makes even the worst complication look just a little better.

Accessorize – Since a vast majority of time is spent in scrubs during my training, I will admit that it can sometimes be difficult to stay true to my mantra. My mentor in medical school gave me great advice about accessorizing, like wearing a cute headband or a string of pearls. This can automatically improve the way you feel, the way you look and the way others perceive you. I am never short of compliments on how nice I look when wearing my pearls. Socks are another way I find to accessorize on a more personal level, which can elevate my mood on certain days. If I am on a particularly challenging service or preparing to perform a challenging case, I put on my “Notes to Self” socks that say, “you are smiling” or “you are confident”.

With all that being said, when given the chance to dress nicely, go the extra mile and “overdress”; this will make you feel better and you will ultimately do better. Style is personal, and so is success! Define your own success, dress for it and reach for the sky!


DanielleHenryDanielle Henry is a chief resident at Orlando Health General Surgery Residency Program and currently serves as the administrative chief resident. She is planning to pursue her passion with a career in breast oncology after residency. She completed her Medical Doctorate at Florida State University and Baccalaureate degree in Applied Physiology and Kinesiology at the University of Florida.  She enjoys playing soccer, a good game of scrabble and time at the beach. She also enjoys community service projects and mentoring medical students.

Our blog is a forum for our members to speak, and as such, statements made here represent the opinions of the author, and are not necessarily the opinion of the Association of Women Surgeons.

2 Replies to “Never overdressed”

  1. Well said Danielle! I have found another way to “dress up” even while wearing scrubs: really nice underwear! Even if you are the only one who knows, it will boost your confidence and sense of style.

  2. Agree completely Danielle! Our medical students often look more professional than our surgical residents simply because they don’t live in scrubs! I have even had patients ask about my “new partner”, pointing past the resident to the well-dressed medical student! Wearing professional attire in the clinic can go a long way to increasing confidence for both you and your patients. The same with presentations or mock orals.

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