JP at large: Are you going dressed like that?

Jim Plagakis discusses appropriate professional wear for pharmacists.

"Yes, I am wearing jeans to work." I had long given up the shirt and tie. I still wear a white jacket, sport-coat style, but my shirt is a polo type-short-sleeved, with a collar. I was comfortable dressing like this. The patients looked at me funny when I wore slacks and a tie. They didn't quite trust this uppity pharmacist who sported a tie and talked with a Yankee accent. This is Texas City, Texas, an industrial town. It is not Stowe, Vt., an international destination ski resort village that ran McDonald's out of town. Everyone at Mainland Pharmacy wears jeans, even the owner.


Then there was the "Doctor Syndrome" period. This was when I was right out of pharmacy school and the malady of Doctor Envy had me in its distasteful grasp. Oh, but I wanted to look like a scientist. Of course, I wanted to be cool, so I spent way too much of my income on Arrow and Van Heusen button-down shirts-all colors, some striped, some plain. The ties had to match. I looked so good with my white Mister Barco jacket. Oh, how cool, I was. English leather to top it off, even though it caused a rash on my neck.

I wore a white barber jacket at Thrifty Drug Store in Walnut Creek, Calif. That was 1965, and they would not let me wear a shirt and tie. My Barco labcoats were hung in the closet with care. I eventually gave them to Goodwill. In the end, I got with the program. Thrifty provided the clean jackets. I threw them into a hamper of dirty jackets after two days and took a clean one from the pile. My laundry mark was Palaski. Why is Plagakis so impossible for some people?

Last week, I forgot my white jacket, left it on the hanger at home. I said to Paul, the manager, "This is not professional, but I gotta wing it."

"You look good. Everyone knows that you are the pharmacist."

"This is my Dakin's solution shirt, Paul. Look at it." There were numerous white spots on my very nice gray polo shirt. I had carelessly dripped sodium hypochlorite solution when I was making the Dakin's. I like the shirt, so I wear it to work. The white jacket hides the spots. Not that day; the white spots seemed the size of grapefruits when I went out to counsel. Just for a short while. But Paul was right, nobody cared. They all knew that I was the pharmacist.

THE AUTHOR is a community pharmacist who lives in Galveston, Texas. You can e-mail him at
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