White clothing reveals character: crisp, clean, capable of riveting attention.
For the physician, the white coat is synonymous with the virtues of altruism, responsibility, duty, respect and compassion. It reminds physicians of their professional duties—as prescribed by Hippocrates—to lead their lives and practice their art in uprightness and honor.
So, if the white coat embodies an expectation (conscious or unconscious) of hope, what happens when the practice of medicine begins to exact a toll on the wearer?
In the feature that follows, nine practicing physicians—in their own voices—bare their
jobs and the strategies they employ to relieve potential burnout. As they refocus,
they reexamine the awe and wonder inherent in the art of healing.