"How Often Do You Wash Your White Coat?" (Hebrews 4:16)

One of the traditional symbols of a physician is the white coat. For many patients, it is more than a symbol. It represents the institution of medicine. The doctor wearing the coat represents the finest and most noble qualities of the profession. It also represents a ready source of infection.


A recent study suggested that the doctors’ white coats, as well as stethoscopes and hands, are a reservoir of dangerous germs. Many hospital and public health infection experts have recommended the frequent washing of hands and stethoscopes between patients. Now there is a similar call for doctors to launder their white coats more frequently. It makes sense. Informal surveys of doctors inquiring, “How often do you wash your white coat?” have yielded surprising results, with more than half wearing their white coats five times or more before being laundered.


A symbol of confidence and assurance has become a source of uncertainty and fear.


As I reflected upon this, I realize that many symbols in my life have undergone a similar transformation. Pillars of confidence such as government, education system, and the banking system have been increasingly eroded by years of corruption, inefficiency, and fraud. I respect and uphold the law, but I have grown increasingly skeptical and wary of institutions that seek to hide behind old and even outdated images of trust and confidence.


Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:16 (ESV)


As a physician, I am guilty of tarnishing the pristine symbol of my white coat. I, too, only infrequently wash my coat. It is a reminder to myself and my colleagues that no one should rest upon their laurels and past achievements. There should be no double standards in life. God is the supreme and perfect example in whom we may place our complete confidence and trust, unlike other symbols, institutions, or persons.


God will always remain the source of confidence and assuredness, never uncertainty or fear.


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.