About seven years into my career as an Emergency Medicine PA, one day I showed up to work in a crossover pinstripe scrub top and matching scrub pants. I simply wanted to wear something a bit more flattering – more up to date, I thought. Yet my supervising physician quickly said, "Go change. You don't resemble a PA today, and it's just not appropriate." So there I was again – drowning in the classic, faded, shapeless world of unisex scrubs, and wondering who wrote the by-laws of scrub wearing and where it might be published.
Graduating from PA school in 1999, almost a decade of wearing frumpy scrubs and lab coats became a twisted comedy of getting "ready" for work in a pajama-like uniform. I've always been somewhat into fashion and style. At one point, I calculated that I was spending 30% of my week wearing scrubs. I was so used to it, but why?? Surely there must be a better option for female clinicians. And when I couldn't find one - I was fueled with motivation to change that.
In June of 2006 I switched from working ER to Urgent Care in order to devote more time and attention to developing the Medelita concept. The goal was simple – to source the highest quality fabrics and trim, with a focus on comfort and quality. More difficult of a task – was to maintain the traditional features of unisex style scrubs and lab coats, yet to introduce professionally appropriate feminization and modern functionality.
This was a long and tedious process. I continued to work in various Urgent Care settings evenings and weekends, in order to make ends meet. During the week days, I would work with pattern makers, web developers, graphic designers, business counselors, financial advisors, and mentors. I would go to trade shows and textile classes in LA. I even flew to Asia in the middle seat of the middle back aisle – and mysteriously arrived with no luggage – in an effort to establish a strong relationship with our chosen textile manufacturer. This was by no means an easy process, nor had they offered Apparel 101 in my PA program curriculum. This was all new to me. At one point I was regularly using the analogy that I'd rather be taking care of a seizing 2 year old than to go through the development process of starting an e-commerce based manufacturing company.
But my colleagues kept motivating me to forge ahead. I was able to establish wonderful partnerships with top performance fiber companies, such as Optimer, Inc., Huntsman Intl., and Invista, so that our uniforms could really do something. Moisture wicking, bacteriostatic, stain resistant, stain release, anti-wrinkle – you name it. Anything that made sense to the healthcare industry – I was determined to utilize. In May, 2008 I launched the web site www.medelita.com, to rave reviews by the female clinician community. "Finally!" seems to be the most common, welcomed response. To date, our strongest customer has been Physician Assistants. This gives me tremendous pride – to be able to offer my true colleagues a uniform with abundant upgrades and a flattering, professional appearance. We all deserve that.