An excellent opinion piece by Sally Satel, M.D., a psychiatrist, appeared in the Wall Street Journal this morning about white coat ceremonies as ways to reinforce the humanistic qualities of medicine. The best part, however, was this perspective:
But the question of whether empathy can be taught—and, in particular, whether a white-coat ceremony is a good means for promoting that virtue—is a matter of some debate.
Judah Goldberg, a young doctor at Chilton Memorial Hospital in New Jersey raises an intriguing paradox. He asks how the white coat can bring doctors closer to the subjective experience of patients when, as an icon of the profession, it is meant to isolate and distinguish them from the lay community.
“To the extent that empathy can be taught through a ritual,” Dr. Goldberg told me, “a hospital gown, the common garb of human frailty, would be more fitting than a distancing white coat.”
I must say, the thought of everyone seeing each others’ posterior sides as they paraded across the stage at such a ceremony did make me smile. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*