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 Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Dinosaur*
Long, long ago, when I was a medical student, we joked that you could tell how senior a physician was by how much junk was in their lab coat pockets. As students, we tended to carry around big bags full of every medical gadget we could think of, plus a few reference texts. The attendings were slim and graceful in their long white coats with empty pockets.
When I became an intern and moved into the hospital full-time, all that crap became just too much to lug around. I ditched the bag, and my short white coat (with interior pockets, thank god) became loaded down with tons of stuff: reflex hammers, pocket reference guides, photocopied research papers for reading, patient lists, a procedure log, a PDA with epocrates, a bit of a snack maybe, and more. The coat weighed at least ten pounds fully loaded. As a junior resident, I pared it down to the few references and gadgets I actually used frequently, and the coat got a lot lighter. With each succeeding year I have lightened the load somewhat, down to the absolute essentials. I shed the white coat years and years ago. Now the only things I bring with me to the hospital are:
Three items. It’s very liberating. Of course, I have epocrates and more on every computer workstation, so the references are there in the ER for me, but still, it’s something of a victory over inanimate junk and my own packrat tendencies that I can go to work with only three things in my pockets.
The downside is that if I happen to forget any one of these three sacred totems, it totally ruins my whole day.
*This blog post was originally published at Movin' Meat*