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TBT: Past, present and future of the lab coat

TBT: Past, present and future of the lab coat

If you were to describe what the average doctor looked like, you would say someone wearing a white coat with possibly a stethoscope around their neck or an Rx pad in their pocket. To most people, the white lab coat is a timeless garment that identifies a doctor immediately. Although this coat is used almost universally to identify a doctor, not many people know where the concept came from.

According to The Global and Mail, the white lab coat came after a revolutionary period in medicine. Prior to the white lab coat, doctors would wear all black to reflect the somber nature of their practice. During this time almost anyone could be a doctor because there were few standards of practice. With the advent of germ theory, physicians strove to be more scientific in their practice and their dress. Medical schools also adopted a more rigorous and standardized curriculum. The white lab coat embodied this new philosophy and became the standard for non-homeopathic doctors.

History suggests with the advances in medicine the surgery process became more streamlined, so doctors needed a way to be able to keep away germs and also be able to see any type of fluids that may land on them. This is when a heavy light colored coat was born. White was a symbol for faith and purity while the length of the coat was to protect against germs. Doctors ended up making this the normal attire due to its efficiency and prestigious look.

In today’s society, a white lab coat is more of a trophy than a garment used to protect against germs. Medical students will attend a white coat ceremony to earn their first white coat to represent their transition from the classroom to the hospital working with patients. This practice is slowly fading away due to patients having “white coat hypertension”. As stated by PA Training, up to 30% of patients are mildly hypertensive while in a clinical setting. Universities are now moving away from the white coat and giving students stethoscopes instead. Many doctors are also choosing to move away from the white lab coat and switching to different color coats to assist in keeping their patients at ease.

What do you think about white lab coats for doctors? Would you be more trusting of a doctor in a white lab coat or possibly one in a different color? What other type of garments do you think doctors should wear instead of lab coats?

Destinee Lown, Client Service Specialist for Fashion Seal HealthcareDestinee Lown is a Client Services Specialist at Fashion Seal Healthcare®. Destinee has more than five years of experience in sales, with a passion for customer relations.



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