Thursday, August 02, 2007

The White Coat

The white coat.

I know recent journals would place the blame squarely on the unfortunate inanimate object for being a carrier of germs - instead of pointing the finger on the errant unhygienic physician. When I look around, I can't help but notice the yellowed unrecognizable stains ( baby vomit, poo, snot, all manner of bodily fluids no doubt ) on some of my colleagues' weathered white coats, a few no doubt beaten to submission with rocks by the rushing stream till nearly translucent. Citing reasons such as spreading infection and the sweltering tropical heat, more than a few physicians have shed their coats - seems like the more senior the position, the less likely you'd find them in a coat.

Wouldn't surprise me if their coats had been condemned as dangerous biological waste after years of patient abuse. :)

Jesse Spencer
Don't you like me in my coat?

Me, I like that old venerable white coat. Despite spending most of my time togged up in blue scrubs ( seriously one of the most comfortable uniforms ever ), I still have my dependable white coat hanging in my locker. Although other faculties have similarly co-opted the white coat, it still remains along with the stethoscope and the serpented staff of Aesculapius one of the most recognizable symbols of the profession. Somehow or rather despite evidences to the contrary ( and we all know about white coat hypertension, right? ), the white coat plays a role in establishing a rapport and reminding us of our solemn duties as a physician. It comforts some of the adult patients and despite how erroneous they may be, first impressions do count after all.

Note how I didn't mention paediatric patients. Some kids associate doctors with painful procedures - and anything zipping by in a white coat would have them scurrying away in fright - hence the relative rarity of coats in some paediatric institutions.

Most importantly, you see these pockets? My white coat houses my prescription pad, multiple pens ( they keep mysteriously disappearing on me! ), stethoscope and reference manuals ( PDAs for my more technologically savvy juniors ) in roomy pockets. And the unexpected... the occasional Fisherman's Friend, the emergency chocolate bar / energy bar, the crushed paperback I read in between cases, movie tickets, my unpaid bills that I plan to run off during lunch to pay.

Seriously, it's like unearthing Tutankhamen's Tomb. A bottle of mineral water. Shakira's latest CD. I've even seen a medical student produce a M.A.C. lipstick and compact from the depths of her coat.

No, I'm not ready to hang up my coat just yet.

9 comments:

Brian said...

ohhh...i get what u mean. the coat is everything.it's like Doraemon's pouch. you can virtually put anything in there :D

and yes. the blue scrubs are sooo comfy. at least the ones in the hospital where i'm at in dublin.i'm sure it's all the same. it can be a jammie for all i know. it's so comfy.

how many coats do you have? even me being a student still, i already have 3 coats in my possesssion.ha ha....

Lewis said...

Do you wear clothing underneath? Hum. I used to have a blue coat, with white pants and shoes, when I was a volunteer in the Emergency Room many years ago. Candy Striper with a male sort of twist to it.

Elliot T. McBeal said...

Oooo.. Dr. Chase...

cleo weiland said...

I have a fantasy about men in white coats.

And nothing underneath.

Sigh.

(Although there's nothing sexy in the drab white ones they make us wear for Engineering Materials lab. Darn!)

Jonzz said...

Somehow, your post, like brian said, made me think of Doraemon's pouch too.

Do you by any chance like Doryaki buns? ROFL!

ry said...

Looks like Mary Poppins can do with a coat...and do away with her carpet bag

TJay said...

Better yet, how about a certain nameless physician walking the corridors on rounds in nothing but a white coat and a smile? I’m sure that it would give the term “bedside manner” a whole new meaning… LOL

savante said...

Yeah, I know scrubs are practically jammies after all, brian. I have four coats actually. Haven't made all that many.

No naked doctors yet... no that I know, lewis :)

No argument there, elliot.

:) Never actually had such fantasies, cleo!

Why Doryaki buns, jonzz?

Yeah, she certainly can. But she'd get dirty going down the chimney, ry.

How kinky, tjay :)

Paul

Ant said...

I've shed my white coat a long time ago; maybe a decade ago & have a preference for the blue scrubs, espescially at night rounds. But, I still retain a remnant of the useless pieces of clothing that are usually associated with a doctor - the ever filthy necktie ! - the ultimate swabstick cum culture media.
I think whoever invented it should be shot; oh wait, better yet hanged by his necktie ! Hahaha !