Dressing the Part: Family Caregiver, MD


Dressing the Part: Family Caregiver, MD

Earlier this week, I attended the Science of Caregiving in Bethesda, Maryland.

Throughout the two-day event, panelists and attendees spoke about the invisible role of family caregivers in the health care system. On the second day of the conference, an idea clicked for me.

A few years ago, one of our members created an identification badge we could wear to the hospital, the doctor's office and during interactions with health care professionals. The badge identified us as family caregivers and our relationship with our carees. One of our members wore the badge to his mother's doctor's appointment. The doctor's office staff immediately asked him to remove the badge as it violated HIPAA regulations. (It didn't but we couldn't convince the staff otherwise.)

This interaction with the staff took the wind out of our sails about our badge.

On Tuesday, I had another thought about how we can identify ourselves as being a critical part of our caree's health care team.

What if we wore a lab coat?

Lab coats are affordable (check out allheart.com and uniformcity.com) and immediately place us on the health care team. We can personalize our own lab coats with emblems, labels and names and choose a color for our lab coat which stands out.

After all, physicians and health care professionals provide once-in-awhile care. We provide all-the-time care. We care at night, on weekends, on holidays. We care every day. We are the health care system.


Because we're in the system, we need to dress the part.

What do you think? Would you wear a lab coat during doctor's appointments, hospitalizations and interactions within the health care system?

And, what would think of a Caregiving Lab Coat week where we all show up in the health care system wearing a lab coat we've personalized to reflect our experiences? I'm also thinking about adding a Lab Coat fashion show during our fashion show segment on November 11 at our Second Annual National Caregiving Conference. During our fashion show, we can show off how we've personalized and decorated our lab coats.

I'd love to know what you think. Share your thoughts in our comments section, below.

Like this article? Share on social


Sign in to comment


I like the idea of a business card. How about a tote bag.. You can carry all your important papers and information to the\nDoctor Appointments and Hospitals etc. \nYou can custom Design it on Vistaprint and in less than a week you have something to show who you are.and less\nconfrontational to the doctors and Health Care Institutions.\nI am going to create one today. and do a test marketing next time I go to Doctor with my mother


I just had business cards printed. They identify me as a care partner and advocate. They have my cell phone my email and what I am advocating, Frontotemporal Degeneration (FTD). They were $9.99 for 500 at Vistaprint.

Lillie Fuller

I love this idea! We all know that the simple lab coat wouldn't work. It will be great to design something that would represent and identify with who we are and what we do as a family caregiver!


Thanks so much, Donna! I'm grateful you'll share the idea. I think we need to do something bold (like our conference theme encourages) to capture the attention of the system and to change our relationship with the system. The system uses us and benefits from the great work we do. Let's change the system's view of us so we receive benefits, too.