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Consider giving your practice a nose job

Physicians PracticePhysicians Practice April 2024
Volume 2
Issue 4

What impact does your practice's smell have on your staff and patients?

lady smelling and smiling | © deagreez - stock.adobe.com

© deagreez - stock.adobe.com

I have previously written about identifying your practice's UVP or unique value proposition. This is based on differentiating your practice from others in the community or the region. According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal on Feb. 22, workplaces are pumping fragrances into offices to make the offices smell better. The article focused on Hines real estate properties in Manhattan trying to lure renters back to the workplace after the pandemic. Hines populated offices with sensory-stimulating designs such as greener space, natural light, and soothing white noise. Their offices offer a unique scent containing Asian Jasmine, Indian Sandalwood, and Italian pine. They believe that the custom-made fragrance improves happiness and confidence and decreases fatigue.

When selling our home, the real estate agent brought freshly baked chocolate chip cookies into the kitchen right before potential buyers would look at our house. The agent said the cookies would give the home a happy, lived-in appeal.

Evidence of the positive impact of pleasant scents

There are large numbers of people who practice aromatherapy, and they report mood elevation and stress reduction.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not approve aromatherapy to treat any medical condition. Many clinicians may be reluctant to recommend aromatherapy in their practices. The evidence to show that it works needs to be improved, as most of the evidence is anecdotal.

Alan Hirsch, MD, who is the director of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, published a paper that showed that more than 80% of subjects were more likely to purchase Nike sneakers in a room scented with a mixed-floral aroma versus those subjects in an unscented room. Hirsch pointed out that companies should avoid the combination of lavender and pumpkin pie because of its sexual arousal effect. Hirsch studied the impact of odors on penile blood flow and found this combination of lavender and pumpkin pie increases penile blood flow.

Impact of pleasant scents in the workplace

Pleasant smells can positively affect mood and emotions, leading to increased feelings of happiness and well-being. This, in turn, can boost productivity and creativity among employees.

Certain aromas like lavender or citrus are known for their stress-relieving properties. Introducing these scents in the workplace can help reduce stress and create a more relaxed atmosphere.

Proponents of using fragrances suggest that certain scents, such as peppermint, may help improve concentration and mental clarity. This can be beneficial in tasks that require focus and attention to detail, which is very important in a medical office.

Pleasant smells can contribute to a positive impression of the medical practice. This can be particularly important for practices that want to create a welcoming environment for patients and their families.

Scents in the medical office

What doctor doesn't remember the foul odor of formaldehyde in the first-year anatomy lab that would linger on clothing until we could shower at the end of the day? As a urologist with over 45 years of experience, I recall the foul odors in our office that were secondary to using cleaning agents, i.e., Cidex, used to soak urologic instruments for sterilization.

Medical offices are a source of potential foul odors. Sources of foul odors in a medical facility include biological waste such as spilled urine or feces in the restrooms, dirty laundry, food or drink spills in the reception area and the employee lounge, and infections.

Since foul odors in a medical office can arise from various sources, it's essential to promptly identify and address these issues to maintain a clean and comfortable environment for patients and staff.

Introducing favorable smells can help mask unwanted odors, creating a more pleasant environment. What doctor doesn't remember the foul odor of formaldehyde in the first-year anatomy lab that would linger on our clothes until we could shower at the end of the day?

Creating a pleasant and comfortable work environment contributes to a positive employee experience. This can factor in employee satisfaction and engagement, and even in employee retention and reducing costly employee turnover.

Some practices use specific scents as part of their branding strategy. Associating a scent with a particular office can contribute to the overall identity and brand image. Examples are female fragrances with fresh-cut flowers in the reception area or the unmistakable familiar odor of Play-Doh in a pediatric office.

My research on this topic reveals that Hasbro, the manufacturer of Play-Doh, has trademarked its scent. Hasbro describes its unique scent formed through the combination of a sweet, slightly musky, vanilla-like fragrance, with slight overtones of cherry, and the natural smell of a salted, wheat-based dough, which makes the Play-Doh brand one of the few active and undoubtedly most famous scent trademarks in the country.

It's essential to consider individual preferences and sensitivities when introducing scents in the workplace. Additionally, moderation is important, as excessive use or strong scents may have the opposite effect and become distracting or even unpleasant for some individuals.

Addressing these issues promptly through proper cleaning, waste disposal, ventilation, and maintenance can help maintain a hygienic and pleasant environment in a medical office. Regular inspections and adherence to sanitation protocols are essential for preventing foul odors and ensuring a positive patient experience.

Enhancing smells in the workplace can contribute to a more pleasant and productive environment. Here are suggestions:

Use aromatherapy

Essential oils and diffusers can be used to introduce pleasant scents. Scents like lavender, peppermint, citrus, or eucalyptus are known for their calming or invigorating properties.

Fresh flowers and plants

Live plants and flowers add beauty and contribute natural, subtle fragrances to the environment. Consider plants with fragrant flowers or herbs.

Scented candles

Scented candles can provide a cozy and pleasant atmosphere. Opt for natural, non-toxic candles with scents that promote focus and relaxation.

Air purifiers with fragrance options

Some air purifiers come with the option to add fragrance pods. This not only improves air quality but also introduces pleasant scents.

Regular cleaning

A clean workplace contributes to a fresh-smelling environment. It is important to take out the trash to maintain a pleasant atmosphere.


Ensure proper ventilation in the workplace to allow fresh air circulation. Fresh air can help dissipate lingering odors.

Scented air fresheners

Consider using discreet and non-overpowering air fresheners in common areas.

Be mindful of the preferences and sensitivities of employees. Consider seeking input or having various options available to accommodate different preferences. It's essential to be considerate of allergies and sensitivities. Ensure that any scents used are manageable and manageable to employees.

Bottom Line

Improving the ambiance and overall experience at a medical practice is essential for patient satisfaction and comfort. While the term "nose job" is typically associated with cosmetic surgery for the nose, this blog is referring to enhancing the atmosphere or "scent" of the medical practice.

Neil Baum, MD, a Professor of Clinical Urology at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA. Dr. Baum is the author of several books, including the best-selling book, Marketing Your Medical Practice-Ethically, Effectively, and Economically, which has sold over 225,000 copies and has been translated into Spanish.

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