The Doctor’s white coat has been a symbol of the profession for decades. In the 1800’s and up through the early 20th Century, doctors wore street clothes while performing surgery…rolling up their sleeves and plunging dirty hands into patient’s bodies. They often were dressed in formal black, like the clergy to reflect the solemn nature of their role. (And seeing a doctor was solemn indeed as it often led to death)
A 1889 photograph from the Mass General Hospital shows surgeons in short sleeved white coats over their street clothes and in the early 20th Century the concept of cleanliness and antisepsis was starting to take hold in American medicine. Both doctors and nurses started donning white garb as a symbol of purity. The white coat took on more and more symbolic meaning and the “White Coat Ceremony”, where medical students are allowed to don the formal long white coat, has even been a right of passage with graduation from Medical School.
For the past few years, the American Medical Association and other medical societies have debated if it is time for the white coat to be retired. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*