The History of the Lab Coat

Imagine you are going to have surgery and you are waiting for the surgeon to come to the operation theatre. Meanwhile, a person enters the room wearing a black coat; what will be the first thought pop up in your mind by looking at him? You must think that maybe he is a lawyer and he mistakenly gets in here. Sounds funny! Well, Jokes apart! It would leave a weird impression by seeing a doctor in the black coat.

Have you ever think why doctors and physicians, lab assistants and the whole medical staff wear a white coat? Why did they not adopt more functional color? Like green, yellow, black, etc. why only “WHITE”? There might be some reason or the history behind the color. To know this, let’s dig into the history.

lab coat

The meaning behind the color WHITE

The color white was chosen with good reasons because it represents purity which indicates the physician’s commitment not to harm and will be responsible for their profession. White depicts goodness, Jesus, Moses, and the Saints. It represents serenity. White also conveys cleanliness. In addition to that white coat symbolizes the significance of purpose. It communicates the physician’s medical determination. White serves as a symbolic barrier to maintain the professional distance between patient and physician. Perhaps, most importantly, the white coat is a garment of compassion.

The historical backdrop of the white lab coat

Want to know the history behind this white colored lab coat? Let’s get back in the 19th century. In older days, the physicians did not have that honor and recognition they have today. There were inadequate standards of valuable practice, and a medical degree could be obtained in a year. Laboratory Scientists at that time were highly respected. They used to wear a beige (pale pinkish -yellow) colored lab coats. The scientists had damaged the dignity of physicians by claiming that the cures by medicine (physicians) were worthless. Scientists got more recognition of people and rulers at that time than physicians. Thus physicians decided to become scientists and adopted the scientific lab coat as their standard of dress. And the physicians began to wear the most recognizable symbol of the scientist, the laboratory coat in the year 1889 AD. They decided the color of their coat to be white.

The modern white coat was introduced to medicine by Dr. George Armstrong (1855–1933) in Canada, President of the Canadian Medical Association and a surgeon at the Montreal General Hospital. Physicians began to wear beige lab coats that were typically worn by scientists in laboratories. This gave physicians a more technical image that differentiated them from homeopaths and other people.

Since then, white became standard color for lab coats. Surgeons were the first to wear white lab coats, hospital doctors follow the trend, and then in-office general practitioners adopted white lab coat as their professional apparel.

Bottom line

Today we see medical students, lab assistants, nurses, doctors, every single person related to medicine wear a white lab coat. This white colored apparel adds more charm to their personalities. If you are a medical student and looking for a lab coat, then get the one for you. There are many lab coats for sale available in the online stores or shops. You can get the one for you today and walk confidently wearing this beautiful clothing.

Keep inspiring!

Image source: medelita.com

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