Sex in the City-style shoes in the animal OR? Maybe not but'
Here’s a light topic to follow a tough week’s woe-is-me stress-fest: Shoes in veterinary practice.
I confess: I love shoes. No, not in the Sex in the City kind of way where shoes are an antidote to lovelessness and the sedative of choice for our collectively obnoxious, whining femininity. (Can you tell I’m not a fan?)
But I still love shoes in a way that I’ll agree has its feminine side (if only because glam rock fashion never made it big with the men). And that’s partly why I won’t wear ugly clogs and massive Crocs to work when surgery days can easily accommodate a great pair of running shoes or a spongy set of platforms.
To me, being a veterinarian does not denote ugly footwear. In fact, it ensures I have all the freedom I need to be myself. Animals don’t care what’s on your feet, right? (Unless it smells yummy.)
That’s why I read an article in this month’s Veterinary Practice News (VPN) with a gleam in my eye, knowing their treatment of just-right veterinary footwear would force my hand and occasion a post just like this one. (Sorry, couldn't find a link to the article.)
If you happened to read my VPN article (reprised in a past post) in which I defended every vet’s right to don whatever clothes he or she felt comfortable wearing, you’ll already know how I really feel. But if you noticed the letters to the editor that followed you’ll also know that my choice of footwear was roundly disparaged.
I don’t expect the average vet in Middle America to understand my penchant for five-inch platforms but I guess I do kind of expect some basic tolerance. I mean, at least I’m open-minded when it comes to their zeal for clogs, loafers and other ergonomically designed footwear.
This was my detractors’ take: Dr. Khuly can wear what she wants but she doesn’t do a service to the veterinary profession in so doing. And her shoes are horribly unsafe! We couldn’t let her work at our hospital because her shoes defy OSHA regulations.
Though the jury may be out on my service to my profession, it’s that last statement I can’t quite wrap my head around. After all, medical footwear the kind the VPN article and most persnickety vets address in idealized terms probably isn't OSHA compliant either.
That's because shoes must supposedly cover the entire foot, including the heel, for maximum security. Most all clogs are therefore disallowed. The uber-popular Crocs are even worse as they have syringe-unfriendly holes through which an ill-handled needle may well strike your flesh.
(Much-touted though clogs may be, some of us can’t wear ‘em anyway—they give our arches a nasty kind of stretch and we slip on everything when we’re in them. Don’t ask me why heels don’t offer me the same discomfort and insecurity—perhaps it’s the recommendable emotional je ne cest qoi they offer.)
I've often thought that if OSHA had its way, almost every clog and doc shoe in the uniform stores would be banned. It’s back to the white, rubber-soled, no-rise, lace-up nurse’s shoe of the past. That, or the simple sneaks I think make the best sense if we’re talking simple safety.
But we aren’t just talking safety, right? Shoes are the kind of intangible asset every single person feels kind of picky about. Whether it’s the pair of $700 Manolos used for stalking the urban bachelor (á la Sex in the City) or the open-toed Nike-soled Cole Haans (below) I consider my worthiest work shoes, footwear is clearly a touchy subject.
I'm comfortable in my shoes. I feel safe. I've never had a foot injury in thirteen years. I've never had a "slip and fall" accident. Apart from risking extra stress should a can of dog food land on my foot I don't see what the fuss is about.
So show me this OSHA rule if you want to fire me (I can't find it in our OSHA kit). Or don't hire me if you don't like someone with personality in her footwear. Here's a sampling (though these aren't my typical work shoes):
Ultimately, I think all those self-styled OSHA police should just shut up and ‘fess up to their true crime: intolerance (and maybe a pair of supposedly OSHA non-compliant Crocs in the OR, too).
P.S.But wait...I think I finally found a pair of Crocs I can actually wear. Four inches of heel for fifty bucks. Whaddaya think? Silver...or red?