Learned that because doctors and medstudents don't wear uniform in UK, you can identify one from t'other by stethoscope position. Who knew?!
— AnneMarie Cunningham (@amcunningham) October 8, 2014
I'm quite fascinated by the culture around what different health professionals wear in hospital, and also what different health professionals wear around campus. In the UK, medical students do not wear uniforms on placements; they wear their own clothes. They no longer wear white coats. When I was a medical student I am sure we were identifiable on wards by our ill-fitting white coats, before anyone saw our university name badges.
Cardiff University medical students are given lanyards to hold their university IDs, and I heard recently that there may be an unwritten rule that this lanyard should not be worn around campus... or people might just think you were showing off.
Of course doctors in the UK don't wear white coats now either, so fitting vs not fitting white coats are not a way to quickly visually distinguish doctors from medical students. Instead, I learnt today that the position of your stethoscope is now an unwritten rule about your seniority in the medical profession. Some (doctors and students) think that only doctors should wear stethoscopes around their necks. Some have even suggested that the unwritten rule might be that you shouldn't wear a stethoscope around your neck until you are a little bit further up the ranks... maybe having passed professional exams! Even more curious, there is a rumour that this unofficial way of distinguishing medical students from doctors may be sabotaged by infection control guidance preventing ANYONE from wearing a stethoscope round their neck.
It's also worth noting that from a patient's perspective just knowing someone is a doctor is not enough.
@amcunningham Stethoscope meant DR, but emergency med, or general med, or cardiology, or haematology? When parked/oncology ward? Confusing.We need to remember to always say #hellomynameis and explain who we are and why we are talking to the patient on this occasion.
— Tricia Murphy-Black (@Pogster) October 8, 2014
So I was wondering... should it be easier to identify medical students? Should doctors and medical students wear uniforms too? How do patients visually distinguish medical students from doctors, as I'm sure they are pretty unlikely to know these rules, and does it matter? And has the significance of stethoscopes to doctors in the UK gone up as they've stopped wearing white coats?
Edit : Some doctors in the UK do wear uniform! @sally_bobs is a respiratory consultant in Chesterfield. All doctors and medical students in @royalhospital wear navy scrubs which indicate if they are consultants.
— HellomynameisSally (@sally_bobs) October 8, 2014
And ENT consultant, John McGarva, @IamChirurgicus, even designed his own which highlights his specialty.
@amcunningham @sally_bobs I unilaterally invented my own when moved to new build. Saves hassle but am yet to see copy pic.twitter.com/0qFpmJ8jk5More about the importance of the lanyard... some have colour coding to distinguish role. In this particular case they were brought in to help distinguish staff at the time of a cardiac arrest. But interestingly lanyards are seen as an infection control risk in some trusts as well.
— John McGarva (@IamChirurgicus) October 8, 2014
.@e_hothersall @amcunningham So do we (& colour coded): dark blue for cons, light blue ST3+, yellow CT1-2, green Fs pic.twitter.com/8TOFTDgSG1
— Philip Pearson (@respirologist) October 8, 2014