Monday, February 26, 2007

Carnival; Status Symbols

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I have observed a peculiar circumstance about lab coats here.

On the one hand, there are the doctors and residents and med students. They walk proudly down the street, in the bitter cold, but do they wear a winter coat? No! They must show off the possession of a white coat! The length is carefully calibrated to status. The name-badge is prominently displayed. The stethoscope is slung over the shoulder.* Doctors show up for meetings at 7 pm in their white coats lest anyone forget.

On the other hand are the lab scientists. To obtain a lab coat, we go to the stockroom and pay the princely sum of $25. Actually, our grants pay. Therefore they are not associated with status. The 'real researchers', as it were, have a limited number of reasons for wearing a lab coat:
  • Working with radiation
  • Working with something gross
  • Coomassie Brilliant Blue
  • Wearing nice clothes (usually: for a date, committee meeting, or teaching)
  • Being cold
Around here, only techs (and people in hot labs) perpetually sport the lab coat. It is a reverse status symbol.


*Stethoscopes are rather expensive, aren't they? I'd put mine back in the box.