By Josephine Reid
Should female doctors be required to wear a long buttoned lab coat if they're wearing a dress or skirt that goes above their knees?
Professional discretion should be used by female doctors when it comes appropriate lengths for any articles of clothing or uniform while on the job. Generally speaking, a shorter length skirt presents an issue of restriction when moving about in hospitals and facilities.
As far as the length of lab coats, whether male or female, it comes down to who wears what sometimes is a sign of one's position within a hospital's hierarchy.
Most medical students, who are sometimes called "short white coats," wear hip-length coats that are gifted to them in a traditional ceremony when they begin medical school. The short coats indicate they are not yet doctors, who at most of the city's teaching hospitals wear knee-length white coats.
If patients notice the difference, they typically don't know what the lengths mean. But attire has a significant history within the profession. At some hospitals, doctors have held meetings about coat length. And occasionally residents -- junior doctors who have graduated from medical school but have not completed on-the-job training, disagree with the short coats they are expected to wear.
Some senior doctors get their white-coat custom, of any length, most likely developed because physicians at academic medical centers traditionally have done research in addition to treating patients, and needed the coats to protect their clothing from laboratory chemicals.
The dress codes for residents and doctors at the nation's 'teaching' hospitals used to be far stricter, and as recently as the 1970s residents at some Boston hospitals were required to wear white coats and white pants starched in the hospital laundry.Adding to this argument is that the practices regarding white coats differ among hospitals and even within
Adding to this argument is that the practices regarding white coats differ among hospitals and even within hospitals because there are few rules, just traditions. At every hospital, there are physicians who break from tradition, for reasons of fashion,
At every hospital, there are physicians who break from tradition, for reasons of fashion, practicality or something more in depth. Many nurses, technicians, and other staff now wear long coats, too.