Friday, September 14, 2012

Doctor?...Image is everything... sayeth Andre Agassi, at least in a 1990ish add for Nike.

While at the hospital, and for other medical student-related activities, medical students are frequently required to wear a short white coat. I personally despise the blasted thing because it's hot, doesn't breathe, doesn't fit and gets dirty if you even look at it. I have to bleach the silly thing at least once a week to keep it shiny and new (Like a Virgin...).

People's perception of the short white coat differs widely. In the medical student realm, it's a symbol of bottom-of-the-totem-poleness. Doctors and other people with initials after their name wear long coats. It is an indication--and constant reminder--of how low we as medical students are, as if we really needed a symbol for that. Nary a day goes by when we aren't corrected, reprimanded, or in some cases completely denigrated simply for breathing.  The corrections I don't mind. The reprimands aren't fun but are probably necessary. The denigration I could live without. It comes with the territory and though I understand it's "the system," I hope I do not ever use medical students as a punching bag.

To patients--and even some hospital staff--the length of the white coat means nothing. One of the hospital receptionists says "Good morning, Doctor" to me at least once a week and I frequently look over my shoulder to see whom she is addressing, because I do not expect it to be me. People see that white coat and their blood pressure shoots up (aka White Coat Syndrome), they expect answers, and they address me as "Doctor" or "el doctor" It makes me uneasy sometimes. Perhaps due to the constant reminders (it's all about the totem pole, remember) and student loans, I do not view myself as a doctor yet. I could probably stumble and clumsily work my way through many different patient scenarios and take care of a patient if I absolutely had to--but it would not be pretty and it would probably take me twice as long as an experienced physician.  I feel like I have learned a great deal, but still have so much more to learn.


No comments:

Post a Comment