Medical Interpreter Dress Code: Smells and a Closing Thought

what smells

In this final post in the medical interpreter dress code series, I'll address one last component of professional presentation and give some final thoughts for consideration.

A dress code is all about presentation.  The final thing to consider is smells. Sometimes called scents. Other times called odors. They are as much a factor in how people perceive you as your visual image.  In fact, smells may even precede you.  

Have you ever sat next to someone who chose to bathe in their perfume or cologne that day?  I have, and it's never pleasant. Smelling nice is something we all want to do, but let's make sure we do it with those around us at front of mind.  

Many people have allergies or intolerances to certain scents.  Being in small rooms only exacerbates the problem.

Smokers, never smoke in enclosed areas, and have ready access to an odor neutralizer.  While you may not smell the smoke on your clothing, others certainly do.

Avoid applying lotions, sprays, aftershaves, or deodorants with notable scents.  You can find all of these products in an odorless form.  Save the good stuff for a night out!

Always, ALWAYS use deodorant or, better yet, antiperspirant.  You might even want a travel size version in your car because you're bound to sweat.  You're running from place to place.  You're under stress.  The exam room is abnormally hot today, and you wish you would have worn that short sleeve shirt.  You'll boost your confidence and be happy knowing you're not the smelly one in the room today!

Your job is to talk.  And talk a LOT!  It doesn't take long for fresh breath to turn bad.  Snacks and meals only compound the rapid decline of sweet breath.  

Your lips become chapped, your tongue feels like cotton, you cough because your throat is dry.  These are all tell tale signs your breath is sending you an S.O.S.  

Be sure to have breath fresheners and water readily available.  I like the breath strips myself.  You don’t want to be sucking on something as you’re trying to talk.  Everyone in the confines of an exam room will thank you for it, especially the patient that’s in close proximity to your mouth.  Oh, and it will make talking easier, too!

This series on dress code has covered a lot of different topics.  I hope managers, professional organizations and individuals will use this information to design a dress code that can improve the perception of medical interpreters in healthcare and our communities.  Here are a few final thoughts…

  • Presentation is your first impression.  You'll never have another opportunity to do it again.
  • Choose clothes that are comfortable and well fitting.
  • Make sure you wear shoes that minimize any risk of injury.  You don't want to go from interpreter to patient while on the job.
  • You are not on a date or in a club.  Leave your boldness for off work hours.
  • Consistent presentation amongst colleagues can only improve the perceived professionalism and integrity of all medical interpreters.

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Posted on June 29, 2015 and filed under Interpreter, Manager.