Beginning with the next class of residents, first-year medical interns at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland will no longer wear a short white coat to differentiate them from their more senior peers.
The change was announced recently in an email from the director of the Hopkins’ Osler Medical Training Program, Dr. Sanjay Virendra, following increasing complaints from successive first-year classes who found the requirement offensive.
‘Today, it does not promote the values which it was intended to promote,’ Desai wrote, according to the Baltimore Sun.
‘Instead, it represents a physical symbol of the past, and of an excessive rigidity and hierarchy.’
First-year medical interns at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland will no longer wear a short white coat to differentiate them from more senior peers, after arguing it was offensive; Students at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine are shown wearing the type of short white coat first-year residents of Hopkins’ Osler Medical Training Program complained about
The change comes as classes of residents continued to complain, more loudly each year, about the visual differentiation from more seasoned residents.
Desai acquiesced, although not without noting he wasn’t happy about it.
‘This is unfortunate, but it is real,’ he included with his email announcement to the residents at Hopkins.
‘All institutions have to adapt to stay relevant and to ensure their traditions continue to uphold their core values. It would be a mistake for us not to.’
But this is not the first time norms have changed for those intending to practice medicine.
In addition to shorter coats, Johns Hopkins’ first-years once also had to wear white pants and white shirts, as well.
Dr. W. Reid Thompson (left), a Pediatric Cardiologist and an associate professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, speaks with Dr. Gary Beasley (right), pediatric cardiology fellow, while visiting heart patient, Mark Adolfo, 14, of Dundalk, Maryland, during a training session at Johns Hopkins Hospital on December 22, 2015 in Baltimore
The change at Johns Hopkins was announced in an email from the director of the Hopkins’ Osler Medical Training Program, Dr. Sanjay Virendra (left); Dr. Paul Foster (right), program director of the internal medicine residency program at Greater Baltimore Medical Center said millennials are shaking up the mythology surruonding the white coat
There was also a time when residents had to be men, live at the hospital, and could not get married, Dr. Mark Anderson, director of the department of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and physician-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, said.
‘That was what society expected at the time,’ Anderson said. ‘It was considered this complete personal commitment.’
After surveying the residents, it was found that the doctors in training were overwhelmingly against the short coat, viewing it with negative connotation. Residents also expressed worry that patients would think they were receiving inferior medical care from those in short coats.
Concerns were also raised that some members of Johns Hopkins’ support staff outside of the residency program wore long coats, making the hierarchy associated with the garment unclear, Dr. Mickey Brener, one chief resident, explained.
‘The signal of discontent rose above the noise and became clear over the last several years, so we made this decision,’ Anderson said.
The tradition of doctors wearing white coats dates back to the 1900s. It was thought to symbolize cleanliness and science, Dr. Ken Ludmerer, a medical historian at Washington University in St. Louis, told the Baltimore Sun.
Residents at Johns Hopkins expressed worry that patients would think they were receiving inferior medical care from those in short coats
Doctors left to right, W.P. Andrew Lee, Chairman of the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Gerald Brandacher, Scientific Director of Composite Tissue Allo-transplantation program, and Jamie Shores, Clinical Director of Hand Transplantation, meet with double arm transplant recipient, former US Army Sgt Brendan Marrocco (center) during a monthly checkup at Johns Hopkins on June 9, 2014
Medical schools commonly present incoming students with short white coats, as they begin their studies. At hospitals, lengths of the white coat vary greatly, Wolfgang Gilliar, dean of the NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine, a school for alternative medicine, told the Sun.
In some practices, like pediatrics and psychiatry, white coats are becoming less common because they appearing uninviting, he said.
‘There is a whole mythology around the white coat,’ Dr. Paul Foster, program director of the internal medicine residency program at Greater Baltimore Medical Center said.
‘Now we have the millennials shaking up the system a bit.’
The shorter white coat at Johns Hopkins will be retired with the current class of first-year residents.
Those joining the program in July will wear the same long white coats as others.
The shorter white coat at Johns Hopkins will be retired with the current class of first-year residents, and those joining the program in July will wear the same long white coats as others; A pediatric cardiology fellow is shown here wearing a Superman Lego figure on his lab coat while on duty on December 22, 2015