The ceremony of incoming medical students getting their first white coat is a momentous occasion. The Wisconsin Medical Society Foundation is proud to facilitate the state’s physicians in providing that white coat and a welcome message to all medical students in Wisconsin. Click here to welcome a new medical student with their first white coat.
While the ceremony is formal, once the student dons the coat and wears it into patient interactions the memories begin. This year we asked students to share stories of some of the most memorable encounters they had with their coats on. This story comes from Rufus Sweeney at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health and the picture is of him holding his son.
My short white coat doesn't fool anyone. Not that I care; I prefer that people know that I don't know anything before they have a chance to wonder.
But some days, patients really surprise me. I was on my OB/GYN rotation, and I was working a long day shift in labor and delivery. A woman in triage was not doing well, so we sprinted down (I don't use the term "sprint" metaphorically. We literally did a wind sprint.). When we arrived, we saw that the woman was frightened. The nurse had primed her about how things had taken a turn for the worse, and the monitor looked bad. The residents scanned a few times with doppler, and it confirmed our worst suspicions – the baby was crashing.
In that situation, it becomes a race against time. We brought the woman up to the next floor, where the ORs were located, and her husband followed close behind. I couldn't contribute much, so I assigned myself to care for the husband.
I remember that the situation was frenetic. The woman was rightly terrified, and the residents worked quickly to make sure that she and the baby were well cared for. As we walked, I asked the husband if he had any questions. He looked at me, looked down, and with total sincerity he pointed and asked, "Are those Allbirds?"
I couldn't help but laugh. The absurdity of seeing your wife and unborn child in peril and only thinking to ask about my apparel.
I guess I should have expected that, though. I was wearing a short white coat.
The most important part of the story is that the baby was healthy, happy, strong and is one year old at this point.
And the Allbirds are also going strong. 🙂
- Rufus Sweeney, UWSMPH
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