After reviewing the results of a Women In Optometry Pop-up Poll that gained nearly 300 responses, it’s clear that it is entirely a matter of personal choice. Wear your white coat or don’t or wear it when the spirit moves you. There’s no consensus, and you won’t be alone, no matter what you choose.
Overall, nearly 40 percent of the respondents said they wore their white coats most of the time, and about 40 percent said they almost never wore their white coats. Another 12 percent said, emphatically, that they never wore their white coats, and the remaining approximately 8 percent hovers around a sometimes yes/sometimes no schedule.
Male ODs were, on average, slightly less inclined to wear their white coats. About 16 percent of the total respondents said they were male ODs, and 54 percent said they almost never wore them and 15 percent said they never wore them. About 31 percent of them said they wore their white coats most of the time.
Forty-three percent of women ODs said they wore their white coats most of the time, while nearly 38 percent said they rarely wore them and 10 percent said they never wore them. The remainder were split between wearing them less or more than half of the time.
The biggest advantage to a white coat is a purely pragmatic one, according to 72 percent of the respondents who say that the convenience of the pockets are most appealing. Sixty-nine percent of the respondents said the coat lends an air of professionalism, while 42 percent each said that its key advantage is that it’s warm and it distinguishes the doctor and/or makes the doctor look older. Thirty percent each said that it protects the doctor’s clothing and that putting one on over other clothes simplifies the wardrobe choices. One OD noted that the white coat “covers my post-partum belly fat.”
Several respondents wrote in with disadvantages.
“It scares the kids.”
“It’s too clinical and prevents cohesion.”
“It’s too warm when I’m moving fast.”
“It washes me out.”
In terms of office staff dress, there was wide variety as well.
34%: Staff members wears casual business attire.
24%: Clinical staff (only) wears scrubs.
22%: All staff members wear scrubs.
21%: Staff members wear professional business attire.
16%: Staff wears some uniform elements (polos or tops with logos)