Tag: Notdeaddinosaur

The White Coat

I have not worn a white coat since I opened my own practice more than twenty years ago.

Not that I had anything against white coats in principle. I wore my short white one in med school with pride, and the longer one in residency too; their pockets filled to bursting with the 4 x 6 inch six-ring binder emblazoned with my name in gold, courtesy of Burroughs-Wellcome, the long-defunct pharma giant, which had presented one to each medical student in the US for many years, as well as assorted pens, note cards, alcohol wipes, hemoccult cards, and so forth. I even had a tiny teddy bear pinned to my lapel, my own way of personalizing the impersonal.

When I went out on my own, though, I made the conscious decision not to wear one. I confess that all these years later, I don’t completely recall my thought processes on the subject. It seemed pretentious, especially since I was the only doctor in the office and therefore not easily confused with other staffers. Little kids were scared of them, held the common wisdom. I decided that I wanted to project a warmer, less formal tone now that I was out on my own and could do whatever I wanted. Don’t get me wrong: I took pains to remain quite professional. I wore skirts, hose, and heels (sensible low ones, of course) at all times.

Patients noticed, and often commented. My explanations were accepted. It was my style, and I’ve always been comfortable with it. Even when a broken foot 10 years agoled me to begin wearing slacks instead of skirts, I never even considered wearing a white coat.

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