Retiring a Tradition
I was surprised to read in my Spring/Summer issue of Hopkins Medicine that the Department of Medicine is retiring the age-old tradition of having its first-year residents wear a short white coat [In Focus]. Reportedly, the action came in response to the residents’ growing discontent: They viewed the coat as “pejorative” and worried that it “potentially reduced patient confidence in the care they were providing.”
As a full-time medical educator for almost six decades, I have to agree with Sanjay Desai, the residency program director, who wrote, “All institutions have to adapt to stay relevant and to ensure their traditions continue to uphold their core values.” And I would have done exactly what he did—remove a perceived impediment to learning, whether real or imaginary.
Retiring a long-standing tradition is never easy. It typically raises controversy and often leaves some degree of sadness and regret. But now that the short white coat is out of their way, the discontented residents should be able to focus more intently on the opportunity at hand—a preeminent Hopkins education.