Intended for healthcare professionals

Student Careers

Surgical dress code - according to Sir Lancelot Spratt

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 01 November 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:0411414
  1. Luke Cascarini, registrar in maxillofacial surgery1
  1. 1St George's Hospital, London

Luke Cascarini turns to the greatest surgeon of them all for some (spoof) sartorial advice

As I struggle up the long and laborious slopes of a surgical career, my fingers gripping the fragile ledge of registrardom, I've been reflecting on what makes the difference between a graceful ascent and crawling over broken glass. Admiring my frayed Marks and Spencers' cuffs and polyester tie, I've been wondering whether a bit more attention to sartorial detail could have made a difference. So, for advice on dress code I have turned to the greatest surgeon of them all--Sir Lancelot Spratt. He may be fictional and old fashioned, but his wise words are real enough and contemporary enough to remain as gold dust for the ambitious modern doctor.

"The most important rule in surgery is 'show you know your place.' Although imitation is the greatest form of flattery it is very poor form for you to dress like a consultant until you actually are one.


"Getting through a surgical firm as a student is all about survival. To do this you must avoid drawing attention to yourself in any way; if your consultant comments on your attire then you have made a major gaffe. You should look clean and smart but not flashy or …

View Full Text

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription