WRAPPED IN MY WHITE COAT
By Camille Scott
As an intern, it’s incredibly easy to lose yourself in the white coat. The long hours, the hard work, and the tremendous expectations placed on our shoulders, especially in the midst of a pandemic. The last 3 months of being a doctor, the white coat seems to have melted into my skin, forcing me to contemplate my identity #withoutthewhitecoat. Most days, I’m only without my white coat for a few hours while I scarf down food and try to get as much sleep as possible before the sun rises, and I face my white coat once again. I love my white coat and the opportunity it gives me to have an impact on people’s lives and to fight for equality. I hate my white coat and the pedestal that we’re forced to live and die on as examples of health and wellness for others.
On the rare day off, or in the quiet moments on a night shift, I’m back to who I am, without the white coat. I’m still getting to know who that person really is in the “real world”, no longer a student, but not yet a fully independent physician. In those moments outside of the hospital and clinics, I’m bombarded by the turmoil of the world through news and social media. Fires burning, virus spreading, people dying, fighting, crying for change. I’m tempted to wrap myself up in my white coat, protected by the bubble of my job, the seemingly endless hours in the hospital, and plug my ears against the noise. But I know that this white coat gives me privilege and a voice to be an advocate and speak out against injustice and inequality in my community. I also have to take care of that person, the woman without the white coat, and make sure she doesn’t get lost. She doesn’t deserve to shrink behind the white coat. She deserves to have balance with “who she is” and “what she does”.
I am human, I am young, and I’m still trying to figure out who I am. And I’m still trying to find balance with and without my white coat.