Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Day one of my "real doctor" job

Last Thursday, my name badge read "Cardiology Fellow" and today, it reads "Assistant Professor". My wife has pointed out that it is great that I am finally starting my first "real doctor" job. I am the first to admit that I did not awaken any smarter today than I did on Thursday June 30th, but nevertheless, at certain points in medicine we encounter these bright lines of responsibility and authority. I remember, for example, being given my first short white coat at a ceremony after the first couple of weeks of medical school. At the time, we were repeatedly told by the faculty and the event organizers how important of a symbol the white coat is and the deference we should pay to its hallowed place in the institution of modern medicine. What I first noticed was that the thing did not come close to fitting me. Despite pointing out that I am 6'4" and have a 36 inch arm length, my short white coat came down to my waist and ended about 4 inches short of my wrist. My white coat made me look like a doofus.

Eastern Virginia Medical School apparently has an added twist to this phenomenon of the White Coat by holding a white coat burning ceremony at the conclusion of undergraduate medical training (ie: medical school). Nathan Favini points out on a guest post on KevinMD that the intention is to be reverent, a sort of funeral pyre symbolizing yet another metamorphosis into a more complete physician. The small sampling of comments on the post illustrate how the white coat has myriad meanings for different people.

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