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White coat syndrome

Chavi Karkowsky, MD, Ob/Gyn & Women's Health, 12:27AM Apr 7, 2013


See? Even these headless mannequins look like they know what they're talking about.  Image By Pi. from Leiden, Holland (Lab 15 - Lab Coats) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


I wore my white coat during residency, primarily because I didn't have an office. I didn't have anywhere to leave my purse, One of the professional disadvantages of female gender is the absence of reliable pockets in your clothing, so the white coat served an important purpose that way. Every morning, I loaded up my wallet and pens and keys and papers and stethoscopes and beepers in those nice deep pockets, and left everything else in the car. 

When I graduated, and became a generalist attending, I stopped wearing my white coat. I had an office, after all, complete with secure place to stash my belongings. I also hate wearing layers, especially polyester ones. I'm also a relatively informal physician, and it just didn't feel like my style. 

When I started working as a perinatology attending, I started out as I had in my generalist practice - sans white coat. Over the last few months, though, I've been wearing it more. Some of it had to do with the climate control in my office (permanently set to arctic). But now it's (very slightly) warmer, and I haven't stopped, and I'm not sure why. Maybe I subconciously feel that subspecialists need to be more imposing? Maybe because I no longer see "my" patients, but consult on those of others? I'm not sure what my motivations have been, or how long it will last. 

Poll: Do you wear your white physician coat when seeing patients in an office setting? Yes|No|Sometimes|
About This Blog

It's the best job in the world, except on the days when it's the worst. Here's a blog from the front lines of obstetrics.

Disclosure: Chavi Eve Karkowsky, MD, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Poll: If the primiparous patient with a breech fetus at 24+4 weeks continues to labor and progress, you will: 1) Provide her with a cesarean section. It's the only reasonable thing to do once she's viable. |2) Offer her a vaginal breech delivery. The data on any advantage offered by section for breech in the peri-viable period is not impressive, and I think she should have the option before I give her a likely classical cesearean hysterotomy, which will seriously impact her future reproductive life. |

  • Chavi Karkowsky

    After a few years as an OB/GYN generalist, Chavi Karkowsky returned to training as an MFM Fellow. She recently completed her fellowship at Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, where she has stayed on as faculty.

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