Labcoats for Medics

J. likes labcoats for the same reason he likes bermudas and cargo pants: pockets. A labcoat adds 3 roomy pockets to put:

1. Instruments – stethoscopes, tuning forks, plumb lines, measuring tape, pentorch, pen etc.)
2. Examination aids – squeaky toy (for paediatrics), bell, Snellen’s chart
3. Writing tools – pen, notepad, highlighter (?!)
4. Reference tools – PDA, handbooks, self-written notes
5. Nourishment – Water bottle, granola bars *
6. Medication – Panadol/Tylnenol, Ciprofloxacin **

* – extra extra important
** – prophylaxis: the general cannot be the first to fall in the battlefield!

Furthermore, one can hang a long reflex “hammer” from the buttonholes. For the average male medical student, the total number of pockets comes to 7 – 2 front trouser pockets, 1 back trouser pocket, 1 shirt pocket and 3 labcoat pockets. For the female medical student, it can often be an infinite percentage increase in pocket number (from 0 to 3).

Who needs a bag?

Unfortunately, most of the time only medical students wear labcoats. This is, of course, not taking into account researchers and lab techs. In J.’s [limited] clinical exposure in Singapore, he’s seen one female respirologist, two female respirologists and one male sports physician wear labcoats.

These long-sleeved labcoats look kind of like white hospital blazers emblazoned with the physician’s name and department on the left chest region. “Dr. Completelyfalse Name. Department of Whatever-They’re-In.” J., a slightly above-average height male medical student, has labcoats that almost reach the knees. Almost all students wear short-sleeved labcoats, barring J. (one long-sleeved, one short-sleeved) and a friend (used to work in a laboratory).

Singapore would probably be the perfect place to demonstrate “white-coat hypertension”. Patients see a white labcoat, instantly guess that approaching person is a medical student (possibly still incompetent), and poof! Elevated cortisol levels.

In Canada, the length of the labcoats is reversed. A labcoat such as the one J. used would be used by residents, whereas the medics’ ones would resemble jackets. This amusing piece of information was spoofed in a medical school play that J. watched recently where the medical student’s “coat” came down to nipple level and the attending’s coat dragged on the floor.

In the end, J. is forced to come to one conclusion. It’s so hot and humid in Singapore that wearing labcoats is impractical. It’s probably a form of penitence that is forced upon medical students to teach them physical endurance.

No worries, folks, you can overcome this by choice of labcoats.

1. Firstly, never get a thick labcoat.
2. Secondly, decide on the balance you want between comfort and professional appearance. Thickness: A thin labcoat looks terrible, but a medium one is warmer. Sleeves: A long-sleeved labcoat looks great, but Singapore has >90% humidity and >30 degrees Celsisus temperature year-round.

Lastly, more large pockets. Many many many pockets.


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