Sunday, July 15, 2012

Life Lessons on Public Transit

As future or current medical students something that we all likely envision is ourselves in our white coats.  Although I touched on this earlier there is a definite sense of accomplishment and pride that is associated with this simple garment.

I remember getting my white coat and gently running my fingers along the slightly raised letters that spelled out my name.  Its seriously awesome.  But a giant lesson I learned is that wearing a white coat is an exclusive privilege of a clinical setting.  No matter how cool you think you look wearing your white coat down the street and/or the bus or train, you aren't.

Nothing crystalizes some facts of life like seeing some reflection of yourself in another person and what follows are two stories that have helped shaped my understanding of white coating.

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The rickety back and forth motion of the train made it hard not to look up occasionally and make sure the train was still on a track and nobody else was panicking.  The doors slid shut and out of the corner of my eye I caught a flash of white and looked up to see a full on white coat.  Additionally the student doctor was also from my own institution as evidenced by the patch on her coat.  In my head I rolled my eyes, really nobody wants to see that.  Nobody is sitting there thinking 'oh wow, she's a doctor' they're all wondering why the F you wore your work clothes onto the train.  It would be like if a chef walked onto the bus with his giant chef had still on, makes zero sense.  I went back to reading my book and at the next stop approached glanced up again and there wasn't a white coat to be found.  Initially there was confusion, but standing in the exact spot was just another urbanite getting from point A to point B.  As soon as she had hopped on the train she had removed the coat and stashed it away probably because she had to rush to catch the train and didn't have a chance to remove it before.  For some reason I just really appreciated that she had done that, maybe its just me but that really resonated with me.
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Its rush hour, the bus is packed and at least twelve more people just got on.  I'm putting that out there because I was already on the edge of my seat (both literally and figuratively) so my toleration for irritation was far lower than usual.  In the hustle and bustle of all of this one guy sticks out, like a sore thumb.  Who would that be? The obnoxious medical student that is dressed in plain clothes and his white coat.  The best part is that the only people who ever do this are medical students and weirdo lab techs (I also have no idea why they do that either).  I'm still not sure if this is also slightly a part of my imagination or not but I felt like white coat guy was looking around with a stupid sneer on his face to see if people were looking at him and his white coat.  Whether or not he was I contend that wearing a white coat in public, in non-clinical or non-clinic related settings is attention seeking behavior.  You're essentially trying to make a spectacle of yourself.
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Don't get me wrong here, if you want to be that guy, then go ahead.  By all means, wear your white coat down the street and all the way home in your heading thinking you look like BAMF when in reality everyone is whispering about how you look like a total a**hole OR not even noticing you.

Maybe some of you disagree but the verdict is: no white coats in public

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