Day 17 [NYC] The White, Blue And Green

SCRUBS CAN COME IN ALL SORTS OF SIZES AND COLORS. No, I’m not referring to the slab of wood or plastic that has spiky hairs on it which you use as an abrasive cleaning tool. Scrubs are garments worn by medical staffs to prevent the spread of infectious material.

The scrubs in Cornell are light green in color, while we have it in a darker shade of green in Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital. We also have separate dark blue ones worn by emergency room physicians and some other medical technicians. However, what surprises me here is that, they can actually wear their scubs home. While you’re on a subway or bus, and see someone in their scrubs, they probably work in a hospital. I thought the whole point of wearing scrubs is to prevent contamination, and I was taught to never wear operating room scrubs to the inpatient wards, let alone outside hospital boundaries. But, I have to admit that it is cool to wear scrubs to work, as they are really comfy and loose fitting, which really helps during the summer.

WHITE LAB COATS DO COME IN DIFFERENT SIZES AND LENGTH TOO. In the Taiwanese system, short waist length coats are worn by medical students and residents, while the attendings wear knee length ones with cool big pockets where they can hide all sorts of stuff. Here in the States, the attendings AND the residents wear knee length ones while the students wear the short ones.

HOWEVER, plenty of other people wear long white coats (which is exactly the same ones the attendings wear), including nurses, social workers, pharmacists, medical technicians and even the cleaning lady. So, if the length of the coat represents hierarchy, we, the students are way low at the bottom of the medical food chain. It is really frustrating at first for me to adapt seeing all these white coats in front of me. I have to resist myself from calling everyone Doctor all the time. I have this one patient who we went in to see, and after taking all the histories, doing all the exams, and giving all the advices, they finally realized at the end that we were doctors (I thought we DID introduce ourselves at the beginning), having mistaking us for nurses all the while.

I always hear people say how the white coat represents responsibility and dignity, and to be able to have them on is truly an honor. But having seen this, I will just tell those who are eager to wear white coats, to come and work in any of the hospitals here. If they ask, I’ll tell them that Cornell is a great choice. They provide white coats for free!

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