Monday, July 25, 2011

White Coat Ceremony

Oddly, I felt few emotions on the day I received the white coat of a medical student. Perhaps that's because it's not my first white coat: I had a white paper atrocity as a phlebotomy, a laughable smock in the de-molding project at the TAC library, and a long white lab thing for microbiology. (For the record, I was extremely reluctant to wear each of those. It felt like some kind of sin. I felt especially stupid when Viltis used to croon over me in that goofy, moldy smock.)

Or perhaps it's because my truck died that day (in the parking lot outside the student clinic while I was having fun getting a TB test and a Hep B titer) and I was in and out of rehearsal getting it towed.

Or perhaps it was because they gave me the wrong white coat—everyone else got the iconic, boxy cut, the average between a real white coat and a girl scout vest. But my coat fit my waist and went past my extended fingertips. It had a belt in the back and right-angled corners. It looked like a resident's coat. I exchanged it last week for the correct (lower status) cut.

I loved the keynote address, which was given by an older family practitioner. He reminded me of the OB/GYN at the Vita Institute. He emphasized that the physician is a servant, and I'm all about that. My professors have said several times: medicine is about patients, not doctors. This education is for patients, not us. I heartily agree.

And I did feel a small thrill as I looked down at my lap and saw my arms in white sleeves: not the paper-towel sleeves of a phlebotomist, the moldy sleeves of a librarian, or the thin gram-stained sleeves of a micro student. The thick, earnest sleeves of a future doctor.

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