Professional Appearance

Neatness and cleanliness are an essential part of the health profession. As a student of a professional program, appropriate attire and grooming will be expected at all times.

Students are expected to abide by the Physical Therapy dress code Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm and other scheduled class times.

At no time will jeans, shorts, T-shirts, jerseys, tank tops, hats or ball caps, sweats or athletic clothing, or non-polishable or unclean athletic shoes be worn in the classroom.

Many courses require students to present case studies, research, or other projects to students and faculty. Whenever a student is making a presentation, he/she should strive to look professional. Presentation grades may be partially based on presentation style, including professional appearance. Professional appearance is also required when there are guest lecturers or presenters.

Anatomy Laboratory

To protect clothing in the anatomy lab, a knee length laboratory coat should be worn. Also, it is suggested old clothing be worn under the lab coat because the odors from the cadaver lab will penetrate clothing and may not be easily laundered. Some students discard these clothes after the course has been completed. Because of these odors, it is advisable to launder these clothes separately.

Physical Therapy Laboratory

Appropriate attire is required for each physical therapy laboratory class. Appropriate attire a student will need to have is:

Men: T-shirt (plain, solid-colored or white, with no writing, etc), spandex shorts (gym shorts or warm-up pants may be worn over these), athletic-type shoes and socks.
Women: T-shirt (plain, solid-colored or white, with no writing, etc), spandex shorts (gym shorts or warm-up pants may be worn over these), athletic-type shoes and socks, halter top (or sports bra or top of a two-piece swim suit), athletic-type shoes and socks

NOTE: On some occasions, laboratory classes will occupy the majority of the day. Thus students will be permitted to wear lab clothing (t-shirts and long pants over shorts and halter tops) during the noon hour or when lab classes are back-to-back. Students are advised to keep an extra set of clean lab clothes in their lockers so never to be unprepared for a scheduled or changed lab.

Clinic Attire and Grooming

Health Sciences students, staff, and practitioners are required to place a high value on personal appearance, including attire. The reasons are rooted in concerns for infection control, communication, and cultural sensitivity. This document sets forth standards for dress and appearance necessary to meet the service and safety objectives of placing patient 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 successful treatment experiences and outcomes. 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 conservative potential patients and present themselves in a manner that will earn their respect, ensure their trust, and make them feel comfortable. Recent trends in clothing, body art, and body piercing may not be generally accepted by your patients, and should not be worn by DPT students.

The following guidelines help prepare the student to establish a successful caregiver-patient relationship. Individual clinical facilities may have more stringent guidelines; in those cases, the clinic’s guidelines must be followed.

General Standards

  • Health Sciences Center name tags or badges are 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 distracting perfumes or colognes (may precipitate allergies or sensitivities).
  • All clothing, including lab coats, must be clean and pressed.

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 must be secured to avoid interference with patients and work.
  • Avoid scarves or ribbons (unless culturally appropriate).
  • Beards/mustaches must be neatly trimmed.

Dress, Shoes, and Hand Care

  • Clothing should be clean, professionally styled and in good repair.
  • Women: skirts (knee length or longer) or tailored slacks with blouse or dress shirt.
  • Men: tailored slacks, dress shirt and a necktie.
  • Shoes must be brown or black in color, comfortable, clean and in good repair. Shoes must be worn with socks or hose.
  • Fingernails should be clean and of short to medium length. Muted tones of nail polish are appropriate for women. No artificial nails.


  • Keep jewelry at a minimum (represents potential for cross-infection, may be distracting to patients).
  • The following are permitted: a watch, up to four rings, small earrings (large earrings are distracting and may be pulled through the ear), academic pin/s, other pins, badges, or insignias which represent an award, modest bracelets/s and necklace chains. Appropriate holiday pin during the holiday is suitable.

Lab Coat

  • A clean, white, jacket-length lab coat should be worn over clothes.

The following items are specifically prohibited in hospital or clinic situations:

  • Blue jeans (regardless of color, or pants of a blue jean style), shorts, Bermudas, leggings, stretch pants or tights, pants with external seams, zippers, pockets (e.g. cargo pants, overalls), hip-huggers, low-riders, bell-bottoms or flares, sweat pants or athletic clothing.
  • Midriff tops, tee shirts, halters, translucent or transparent tops, shirts or tops with plunging necklines, shirts with writing or decals, tank tops or sweatshirts.
  • Sandals or open toed shoes, high heels, platform soles, or canvas shoes (blood or needles may penetrate the fabric).
  • Dangling jewelry, rings with sharp protrusions, large buttons or pins (could interfere with function, transmit disease or be grabbed by the patient).
  • Visible body tattoos or visible body piercing.