Appearance Matters: Looking Professional on the Job
As an EMT or paramedic, you represent the healthcare community to the public. Your image as a healthcare professional reflects upon your employer and the industry as a whole. After all, you are in an industry that values health. An unkempt appearance can signal the–real or imagined–presence of bacteria and other pathogens. Looking professional may not be top of mind when you work in a such a stressful job. But make an effort to dedicate a few minutes of your day to looking professional on the job.
Stiff is Good
Hate having wrinkles on your shirt? Here’s a quick tip: use an iron and corn-starch solution on the shirt. A light corn-starch mixture will stiffen your shirt to a certain point but still allow your shirt a little flex. You may also opt to use a heavy starch solution. The heavy solution makes a shirt and pants virtually wrinkle-proof. However, it may not be so comfortable to wear a uniform that’s very stiff. Play with the formula and see what works for you!
If your uniform includes a cap or hat you might struggle with stains. Pop it into the dishwasher for a quick and gentle way to wash your cap. Simply put the cap on the top rack of the dishwasher and take it out afterward. Another method is to wash it in a bucket of water with a little laundry detergent. For stubborn stains apply a mixture of water with either baby powder or a cleaner like OxyClean. Let it sit a while, then brush off.
Keep a Hygiene Kit
If you’re an EMT, hygiene should be your top priority. When you’re always on-the-go, you may not find much time for personal hygiene. Keep a hygiene kit in your locker or bag. Stock a toothbrush and toothpaste, hairbrush or comb, ponytail holders if you have long hair, and extra deodorant. You may also keep mints or gum, which you can use yourself or offer to that colleague who needs a little breath-freshening.
Keep it Tucked
Keeping your shirt tucked is difficult for medical professionals in action. This is the purpose why “shirt-stays” were invented. Shirt-stays were initially used by the military. However, it can’t hurt to use it on duty to keep a neat appearance. The mechanism of the product is similar to suspenders. It has a Y-shape elastic strap with hooks or snaps at its ends. The first hook is attached to the shirttail while the rest are snapped onto the socks. If that sounds like too much, some men’s boxers come equipped with button holes or gripping fabrics in the waistband to hold shirt tails in place.
Guard Yourself in the Heat
The heat is tough on medical practitioners. You can quickly end up with body odors and sweat stains. Even if you can’t do anything about the heat, you can keep your uniform clean. Scotchgard and Febreze may have a place in your hygiene kit. However, there are more practical solutions. You may wear an undershirt to help soak the sweat. Sweat stains can be removed using starch. Apply it directly to the stain and brush it vigorously. Starch also helps remove the smell.
Many professionals with intense jobs choose a clinical strength antiperspirant and deodorant. Women’s Health listed their top picks.
Keep the Shine
Boots are made to shine. These should be regularly cleaned after duty. A standard shoeshine kit can give your boot a decent shine. The kits can be bought at any retail stores. They come in packages that contain a dauber and buffing brush. For polishing, it may be wise to set a polishing schedule monthly. Note that you may need to scuff them occasionally to maintain a decent appearance. The polishing helps preserve the leather. It also makes the boots look good and feel comfortable.
As a healthcare professional, dirt and bacteria is your number one enemy. The quick tips mentioned above will make a difference in how you keep your appearance.