Unacceptable office decor and professional apparel--what are the limits?

Discussion in 'Psychiatry' started by nancysinatra, May 13, 2009.

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  1. nancysinatra

    nancysinatra 7+ Year Member

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    The thread about what working hours are acceptable got me wondering--are there office designs, that while technically professional (i.e. they contain a desk and chairs, no offensive decor) are officially taboo? Would someone come around and assess a fine for creepy aesthetics or something? Seriously does office set up fall into any category of professional ethics?

    During my first year of med school I visited an alternative medicine doctor for a preceptorship once a week. His office, I swear, had not been revamped since the late 60s, including the green metal patient chair covered in green shag rug which he made me "sit" in while he talked about muscle pain and electrolyte management, although sit isn't quite the word, since I really just slumped in the shag. Not only that but the chair was jammed into a corner between a bookshelf and the office door. His collection of small greek statues looked like it hadn't been dusted since the 60s either. Oh and the garbage was overloaded with McDonalds wrappers. He also had a battery operated fountain in the front, and a book stand with a cardboard cutout of himself advertising a book he'd written. Even the building his office was in was scary--it was encased in scaffolding and the scaffolding was always leaning and raining debris, like the entire thing might collapse any second.

    I'm just saying that there is quite a bit of leeway for how you set up an office. In med school they make it seem like there's only one possible way the medical world runs but I happen to know a lot of doctors are weird and I bet those rules break down the minute you leave academia.

    This could be extended to professional attire. I know there are basic principles governing professional dress, but a person could meet these rules and yet still dress 30 years behind the times. If I wore 70s era beige polyester pantsuits as a resident, for example, would I get spoken to? It's very hard to criticize beige.

    I can think of lots more examples of aesthetic weirdness in medicine, despite all the talk about professionalism and propriety! I'm sure patients are totally on to all of it. They just have nowhere to run because of their insurance.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2009
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  3. OldPsychDoc

    OldPsychDoc Senior Curmudgeon Moderator Emeritus SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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    This sounds like a job for Queer Eye for the Psycho Guy(Gal)! :laugh:
     
  4. PsyDGrrrl

    PsyDGrrrl Head Shrinker 7+ Year Member

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    There's a psychologist at my job who wears this weird sport jacket kind of thing every day that appears to be made out of some cross between velour and courderoy and I'm pretty sure he's been wearing it since the 70s. Along with everything else he wears, come to think of it.
     
  5. pingouin

    pingouin just chillin' Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    I had an adolescent client tell me that she liked my therapy office decor because it didn't include a hammock full of beanie babies like one of her previous therapists. Apparently she was supposed to choose one at the start of every session that represented her mood that day.

    Same adolescent had a therapist long before that in a different state who apparently had his hot sauce collection on display on a few shelves in his office.
     
  6. whopper

    whopper Former jolly good fellow 10+ Year Member

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    Of the books I've seen suggestion design styles, they do not get very specific, but they do mention that design should be comforting to the patient, but at the same time neutral in terms of items that may lead to identification or any of the other defense mechanisms.

    E.g. no pics of girls in bikinis, no politicians, etc.

    Which reminds me of the Nurse Practitioner who's office I used the day I had outpatient (and she was off that day). It was the classic old lady motif--lots of china, lots of things with lace, lots of lenox stuff, lots of pink......It made gave me the appearance that I was gay (not that there's anything wrong with that). That could affect the way some people would interact in a room. Its not like my patients knew that wasn't my office, and I just used it the day the NP happened to be off.
     
  7. nancysinatra

    nancysinatra 7+ Year Member

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    Hmmm I wonder if that applies to all politicians, or if they eventually become acceptable neutral "historical figures," like say Kennedy, or long-ago misty naval scenes (I think I've seen similar things on walls of psych hospitals)... Not that I want that in my office. Then you have your religious hospitals, like one I was in recently, which was stuffed with pictures of the Pope.

    How about actual art? For a hospital something refreshing and outdoorsy. Abstract modern art in an office, maybe? But then I think back to that doctor I visited and his pathetic statues. I'm sure he meant well too!

    What about having a bust of Freud? Ooooh that reminds me my grandmother has willed me her bust of the famous Swiss doctor Albert Schweitzer...

    This is hilarious. I think what is funniest is that no one, gay or straight would decorate with Lenox unless they are absolutely of a certain age.

    Ok, see. This is WHY we need third party oversight of these things. How does this cross between velour and courderoy work out, exactly?

    This is unbelievable! A citation should have been issued for this one for sure, for having a hammock in the office alone.

    If residency doesn't work out like I hope, that could be my fallback!
     
  8. Hurricane

    Hurricane Senior Member 5+ Year Member

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    I'm rotating at a clinic one day a week and the office I use when I'm there belongs to one of their social workers. It's plastered in gay pride and Obama placards and Martha Stewart memorabilia. I'm all for those things (well, except for the martha stewart maybe) but it's kinda weird seeing patients in there and knowing they assume I'm the kind of person who would put that stuff up all over my office.

    I often find a way to mention it's not my office while looking for a pen or something.
     
  9. MBK2003

    MBK2003 Senior Member 7+ Year Member

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    We have a NP on the adolescent girls unit whose office is full of pink, stuffed frilly things and looks a lot like how I imagined Dolores Umbridge's office looked (Harry Potter).
     
  10. grandslam521

    grandslam521 Junior Member 5+ Year Member

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  11. PsyDGrrrl

    PsyDGrrrl Head Shrinker 7+ Year Member

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    That thing is tacky no matter where you put it.
     
  12. PsyDGrrrl

    PsyDGrrrl Head Shrinker 7+ Year Member

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    Well that was just a guess, because the thing is so old, you can't tell what the hell it's made of. Some sort of worn, woolly looking stuff.
     
  13. sunlioness

    sunlioness Fierce. Proud. Strong 10+ Year Member

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    I know a psychiatrist who routinely sees patients in her pajamas. It's pretty wild. Definitely makes me feel better about wearing jeans and no make-up every once in a while.
     
  14. whopper

    whopper Former jolly good fellow 10+ Year Member

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    A social worker where I did residency had a "Bush Sucks" poster in her office.

    Now at that time, I bet you the majority would've agreed with her, but take into consideration she's going to get people that disagree as well.
     
  15. kugel

    kugel 7+ Year Member

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    How the patients got into her pajamas I'll never know?
    -- Groucho Marx
     
  16. luft

    luft PGY-3!!! 5+ Year Member

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    This is a bit off topic, but mentioning Albert Schweitzer reminded me of a book that an attending lent me as a med student on OB/GYN about Ignaz Semmelweis who pioneered the washing of hands between births to prevent the spread of puerperal fever. On the back cover, somebody had wrote out a song (seemingly of their own creation) in pencil about Semmelweis saving the mothers set to the tune of Edelweiss. It had multiple verses and culminated with a PSA-like verse about washing your hands. It was incredibly corny. Anyways, continue with the decorum discussion. It was the kitsch factor of the discussion and the mentioning of a European doctor that brought that to mind.
     
  17. fMRI

    fMRI 2+ Year Member

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    I know exactly what you mean, it can occasionally be observed on the psychoanalytically inclined. In my limited fashion parlance, I refer to it as "balding corduroy". ;)
     
  18. nancysinatra

    nancysinatra 7+ Year Member

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    Are you serious? When I rotated through the personality disorders unit we wouldn't even let the patients come to rounds in pajamas! Ok, when in one's career does it become permissible to dispense with the formality of putting on daytime attire? This person is an attending at least I assume.

    Well I feel a lot less guilty now than I did a few days ago about having not budgeted much for new clothes for residency. Those same clothes that got me through med school rotations are going to have to last a few more months but at least they're not PAJAMAS! Or corduroy! Good grief.

    Now what if you were seeing a Cluster A patient and your office was full of presidential (or Martha Stewart???) memorabilia? Might that not set a few people off? (Though I could see Martha Stewart being a folk hero in some of those circles by now...)
     

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