physical therapist holding clipboard in office in front of massage table
New Grad Tools March 1, 2017

What do Physical Therapists Wear to Work

As a physical therapist, you have lots of options when it comes to the types of clinical environments where you can work. Whether you prefer an outpatient clinic, school based setting, extended care facility or a home health position, many clinicians often find themselves asking “what do physical therapists wear to work in each of these environments?”

It goes without saying that a professional appearance is tantamount to success no matter the environment, but you should also be aware that some facilities have more stringent dress codes for physical therapists than others. It’s always good practice to find out from your recruiter or employer what the requirements are before beginning any new position.

Dress To Move...And Layer

Just as it’s a good idea for physical therapy patients to wear comfortable clothing that allows them to move freely during their session, it’s also good to apply that rule to your own mode of dress. There may be times when patients need you to demonstrate how to best accomplish certain movements, and the fact that they are receiving physical therapy at all means that they may be a little less able to easily perform directions.

Having you provide an example of the movement often makes it easier for them to emulate. So, in short, you want your demonstrations to be fluid and simple to accomplish. Just ask yourself if you could easily do a squat or throw a ball without feeling constrained and you’ll be fine.

Sophisticated Slacks, Comfortable Scrubs

In hospital environments, simple scrubs are often the norm for all clinicians. And, they are a cost-effective way to dress that won’t take a chunk out of your budget. Many companies are now offering stylish options for clinicians who want to show their own “PT style” by wearing a new crop of fashionable scrubs (see, for example) with adornments, pleating and more fitted options.

In addition, many offices allow physical therapists to wear neat slacks that are paired with a dress shirt or blouse in darker, understated colors. Taking it one step further, casual Fridays in some facilities allow clinicians to wear jeans if they are not stained or tattered.

Button It Up

Proper business attire often includes a button up shirt or blouse. Some PT clinics may already have polo shirts with their logo for uniformity amongst personnel, but even if your facility does not provide customized options, polo shirts are still appropriate if they are clean, do not have any logos or sayings, and are loose enough so that they do not restrict movement. Remember, you’ll be stooping, kneeling and lifting while working.

In addition, some facilities require men to wear ties with button up shirts, so choose accordingly. Here are some great options that will put your PT pride front and center.

Want to show us your PT Style and Win a Gift Card? Just post a picture of your best PT Style on our Instagram page with #PTStyle.

Keep Your Feet Happy

Clean and comfortable footwear is an absolute necessity for physical therapists. Whether it's tidy sneakers or dress shoes, appearance matters. Make sure to choose something that will not only get you through busy days, but will also be stylish. Brown or black dress shoes are appropriate for private offices and business meetings, while running and walking shoes are a comfortable option for the physical demands of the job. Keep in mind that not all facilities allow running shoes, so check in with your HR department or supervisor to make sure that you are making the right choices.

Yes, Safety Is A Factor

While loose fitting clothing is tantamount for movement, there is a limit, as “too loose” can jeopardize both you and your patient’s safety. The looser the clothing, the easier it is to fall over your own feet. In addition, patients often need to hold onto their therapists as they walk, so too much loose material can cause issues with stability. Believe it or not, clothing can have a huge impact in terms of safety, something an astute PT will keep in mind.

The No-Nos

As we’ve already noted above, there is a gray area between what physical therapists can wear to work in a given facility, but there are certain clothing choices that are frowned upon in any clinical setting. They include sweatshirts, sweatpants, t-shirts and hats.

Show Us Your PT Style, Win A Gift Card

At Club Staffing, we already know that PTs/PTAs have a style that goes far beyond the facility where they work. Your diligence to patient safety and wellness is what makes you such great additions to the healthcare world. So, “what do physical therapists REALLY wear to work?”

We’d love to see how you define PT Style. Just post a pic of your own PT style to our Instagram page to show us how you epitomize style and grace. Use hashtag #PTStyle with your post. Two lucky winners will receive a gift card from either or Amazon; their choice.

RELATED: 3 Tips for Maximizing Your Career as a Travel PT

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