I stopped wearing a white coat after training.  Since then I have worn the designer friendly greens. Why? Well, to begin with during training there was a hierarchy: first year interns, who wore short sleeved white coats and then second and third residents who were permitted to wear the traditional long sleeved white coats. It was considered an absolute faux pas to wear anything but the white coat with the correct sleeve length.

Looking back, I can understand why administration wanted to differentiate between first and other year residents. I mean after all, each year out of training represented one year more experience. It just seemed weird to me that instead of just a name tag with the training year perhaps in bright colors, there was this system of short sleeve and long sleeves.

White coats laden with stethoscopes, reference books, a few cookies and God knows what else can weigh quite a bit. Eight hours of hard work later this can grate on your neck, especially during the so called mature years of practice. I have also found that young children seem more anxious when the doctor arrives with the bulky white coat than simply with greens. Finally, greens hide stains very well whereas the body fluids or even ketchup from that hamburger are displayed all too prominently on the white coat.

It turns out that there is yet another advantage of ditching the white coat: While both greens and coats carry bacterial loads, a recent study showed that greens have fewer of the nasty drug resistant bacteria than white coats. Whether this translates into fewer cases of transmitted bacteria to patients is unclear. Yet, it makes sense that clothing which has fewer bacteria would be less likely to transmit disease. Greens are no angels either and ideally, should be put in the wash as soon as possible.

Fashionistas might object, as the image of grayed haired distinguished Marcus Welby with his immaculate tie and perfectly pressed white coat seems to represent wisdom and experience. The truth however is that any emergency physician who wears designer clothes and a pressed white coat will all too soon discover the reality that body fluids do not mix well with Armani shirts. I have recently switched to Greek olive (whatever that means) colored scrubs. While I may not be making a fashion statement, I switched just because I was tired of the same old greens. Receive instructional help that is of the elegant quality interpret more and achieve gain.