“The white coat reminds physicians of their professional duties…to lead their lives and practice their art in uprightness and honor. The white coat is a symbol of our profession. The donning of the white coat is a century-old tradition. The white coat originated in scientific laboratories and was adopted as the standard of dress by physicians in the late 19th century as physicians sought to incorporate scientific principles in the practice of medicine.
“There are, however, some practical reasons for wearing your white coat: ease of recognition and need for carrying medical items and reference books. Your white coats will serve as a repository for information. When all else fails, you can simply look in your pockets. Your white coats will soon be filled with spiral-bound reference books, reference cards, index cards with patient information, and folded journal articles. As medical students, your white coat will serve as a time capsule for each rotation. The reference books in your pockets will change throughout the course of your clerkships. Your white coats will also carry medical equipment including a stethoscope, penlight, tuning fork, and reflex hammer. As a result, your white coats will be heavy. Just ask any third-year student.
“As one’s training rank increases, however, the number of papers, pens, reference books, and instruments in the pockets decreases. According to one study, there was a significant association between increasing seniority and a reduction in the weight of one’s coat.”
Karnath, B.M. (2011). “A Symbol of Our Profession: White Coat Ceremony Address to the Class of 2014.” Journal of General Internal Medicine. 26(6).