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According to Dan Blumhagen's article "Doctor's White Coat," every human civilization has a sign synonymous with recovery. These symbols encircle the doctor-patient relationship and typically characterize the collective understanding of healing. The author observes that as culture advances, the social associations associated with healing change, as do the symbols. The article's key argument is to investigate the meanings associated with the white coat often worn by doctors in America. To do this, the author examines the relationship between the doctor and the patient in order to ascertain the symbols that may be used and to study past records that document how the white coat started being used and what interpretations they carried.
The author elucidates that there are four major things that are used to portray the physician and they are the white coat, the head mirror, the stethoscope, and the black bag. In the current society, the author notes, the doctors white coat is a label of authority. The origin of this outfit, as the author suggests, is the introduction of aseptic surgery where the medical practitioners in the operating room wore the white coat with the aim of preventing cross contamination. In this regard, the white coat symbolized bravery and the healing powers of the doctor.
The author further explains that in the past science was regarded powerful because of its reputation of inventions that transformed the society. Therefore, due to the trust that the public had on science, the doctors adopted the lab coats in order to imitate the scientists. Thus, white signifies efficiency and hope. Other meanings attached to the white coat as described in the article are that white symbolizes purity in terms of instilling a sense of trust and safety in the patient and also lessening discomfiture when dealing with sexual matters. Furthermore, the article explains that white also signifies power and protection where the physician is capable of handling fatal infections and rendering them harmless hence protecting the patient. It also represents life and is attributed with supernatural powers and so it brings hope and confidence in the patient. Nevertheless, the author notes that, in the modern society, roles are being reconsidered and doctors are now viewed as partners rather than as authority as in the past. In addition, some changes have been introduced like the blue and green attires worn in the operating theatre.
Generally, the historical analysis of the origin of the white coat and the symbols attached to it has been well presented by the author. However, the article topic should have read “the symbol of the white coat in medical practice” since the article depicts that the nurses and the interns wear the white coat too contrary to the topic that implies that only doctors wear the coat. The author talks about the white coat as a symbol of protection from contamination but does not tell us how the coat really prevents cross contamination. Wouldn’t the coat actually carry infections more than street clothes since they may not be laundered frequently?
Again, the author says that the white coat is a symbol of authority and power, yet he does not tell us how this perception would influence the approachability, friendliness and sociability of the patient towards the doctor. Also, the author should add the idea that medical students wear short white coats and the log coats belong to the licensed physicians. This is to differentiate between the short and the long coats and the meanings they bear. Another meaning that the author should have added is that the white coat is a symbol of compassion and care that the patient expects to get from the doctor. All in all, the article has captured several social symbols attached to the white coat, and it makes a significant contribution to the understanding of the relationship that exist between the medical profession and the society.
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