Research is Clear: Having More Than One Lab Coat Matters

by from Medelita | Friday, Jan 24, 2014

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At Medelita, we have always recommended that you purchase more than one lab coat at a time. I'll admit that it's easy for us to make such recommendations; we are in business to sell you as many lab coats as we can,  and I won't pretend otherwise.  However, if you should decide to purchase a Medelita lab coat, here are some interesting facts to consider:

Is it a suit jacket or is it a lab coat?

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First, let me congratulate you.  You have spent (or will spend) four years in college, four more in med school, three to eight more years in residency, and maybe a few more years in a fellowship.  A quarter of the world's population was bornwhile you were doing all of this. You've gotten this far only to be perplexed by trivial decisions about how many lab coats to purchase. I'll try to make it easy for you:  Imagine if you were in any other profession where you were required to wear a suit to work.  Would you wear the same jacket every day? Most of our customers have to wear a lab coat every single day at work during very long shifts.  Our lab coats are not meant to be 'the only single lab coat you'll ever need' for the same reasons you wouldn't expect to own one suit for the rest of your professional life.

Holy lab coats!

Unfortunately, this misconception is sometimes difficult to dispel prior to purchase.  We completely understand why. It absolutely makes sense that some customers are willing to pay more for the ultimate in durable fabric and performance technology, and we're working very hard to integrate new fabrics and finishing toward this end. Every year we introduce fabric that is lighter, repels more fluid, and lasts longer - but there are limitations to what 100% cotton can do.  If you throw on the same cotton t-shirt every day for a few months, you might expect to see a few holes emerge in the fabric.  Likewise, our cotton lab coats are subject to the same vulnerabilities.  So while we figure out a better solution, you can delay the frayby rotating in as many coats as possible.

Be part of the solution, not the problem.

A recent article published by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) outlined that while the link between healthcare-associated infections and attire hasn't been formally tested, common sense suggests that wearing clean clothes will undoubtedly reduce the possibility for transmission. The report offers several guidelines for attire, including a recommendation that professionals engaged in direct patient care "should possess more than 2 or more white coats and have access to a convenient and economical means to launder white coats."  Their rationale is painfully simple:

"These practical considerations may help achieve the desired professional appearance yet allow for HCP to maintain a higher frequency of laundering of white coats."

Their research also clearly recognizes the benefit of wearing a lab coat:

“Overall, patients express preferences for certain types of attire, with most surveys indicating a preference for formal attire, including a preference for a white coat.”

One comment on the subject spelled it out more clearly:

"If you dress like a slob, you work like a slob. Doctors, like all health care professionals should wear white coats. It imports knowledge and authority. Also, they earned the honor."

We couldn't agree more.

In summary

  • One lab coat is not  enough.
  • You will wear out a Medelita lab coat in the same amount of time it takes to wear out any other nice clothes you own.
  • You took an oath to uphold the highest standard of patient health and safety, and it's clear that a clean rotation of professional attire plays an essential role.

We'd love to hear about your experience: how many lab coats to you have? Do you rotate between a few, or more?