Does Your Dermatologist Wear a White Coat? Does Your Aesthetician?

In the United Kingdom, the iconic white coat worn by physicians for over a century has met its end. Citing the tendency to harbor infection, the government has started to phase them out.

Here in Southern California, where casual wear is standard for many physicians, the white coat is an endangered species. Ironically, at my local farmers’ market there is a woman selling organic cures for illnesses; she is a naturopathic physician and invariably wears her embroidered, knee-length white coat while standing amidst her jars of thyme and huckleberry. The same long white coats are worn by cosmeticians and medial assistants at cosmetic centers everywhere.

Why is it that just as physicians are tossing their coats, ancillary health care providers are donning theirs?

Growing up, our family physicians were always dressed impeccably, and always in white. In medical school it was a hard-earned honor to wear the short white coat on the wards. As a physician I will only see patients while I am dressed properly: a shirt, tie, shined shoes that click on the marble floors, and a long white coat.

Do patients actually care if their doctor wears a white coat? Should they care?

4 thoughts on “Does Your Dermatologist Wear a White Coat? Does Your Aesthetician?”

  1. Yep. I expect my doctor to be wearing the white coat and dressed professionally right down to his or her shoes.

    Good job, Dr. Benabio!

  2. Rarely do I wear mine.
    As far as I have seen, the only doctors wearing white coats on the Central Coast of California are a few Emergency Room doctors, OB/GYNs and most Community Health Center Doctors.

    My Derm usually wears scrubs, my Physician is always found wearing a nice long sleeved, button down shirt with slacks and shiny black shoes. My pediatricians never wore white coats. Perhaps it is a regional taste. If wearing it gives you a sense of earned honor, then by all means please wear it. You make the white coat look good.

    Personally, I don’t mind the look of the long white coat. It is reassuring, professional and looks clean but can sometimes have a generic look to it depending on the person of course.

  3. Susan Boiko says:

    When I interviewed at the Mayo Clinic for dermatology residency in 1984, alone among the 10 programs at which I interviewed, white coats were not worn. Instead, the “uniform” for both men and women was a drab business suit, with tie and collared shirt for men. In medical school at Michigan, the ancient joke was that if you were wearing your white coat in the produce section of a supermarket and someone collapsed, “take out your pen and start marking oranges.” I remember Mayo saying the white coat was the sign of a “tradesman.”
    When I was a pediatrician I never wore a white coat. I thought it frightened the children. But my (mainly elderly) dermaology patients expect a white coat. For several years my sister, a family doctor in Seattle, wore a powder blue coat, which was soothing looking but didn’t seem “doctorly.”

  4. I think it’s a matter of taste, but in my opinion, a white coat looks very professional. They still use actors in white coats to advertise prescription drugs on TV. What I don’t really understand is, why some doctors wear their white coats in the hospitals’ cafeteria. I think it is not particularly hygienic.

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