This just in, which reminds PB that many of you are in the midst of that special harrowing experience we call C.P.E.! How is it going, troopers? Are you wearing out those Dansko clogs yet?
PeaceBang, Iâ€™m a staff chaplain and I recently began wearing a black lab coat with otherwise â€œbusinessâ€ dress. How do you feel about that? I was frustrated at the futility of pockets in womenâ€™s clothes. I didnâ€™t want to do a white lab coat because one CPE center where I trained did that and folks always thought we were docs. The black does nicely.
I also have a navy lab coat and a â€œdressyâ€ non-cuff-sleeve scrub jacket on order. Weâ€™ll have to see about those.
How do you feel about the lab coat plan?
PS. You are wonderful. I canâ€™t count the hours Iâ€™ve spent worrying and planning and thinking about my wardrobe and you make things easier. Bless you and this ministry!
And also with you, sweetie.
Hmmm, okay. You’re the staff chaplain, which means that you’re ministering to docs and other people on staff, so that makes your role different than the hospital chaplain making rounds, right? So right away I feel less inclined than I usually would to ask, “Is a black lab coat an approachable enough garment for you to be wearing as a chaplain?”
I see the wisdom in wearing a lab coat when you’re ministering to other people in lab coats. There is something equalizing about it, and also perhaps counter-intuitively comforting, as in, “I am not a comfy motherly/fatherly type who is going to get all mushy and spiritual with you. I am a professional member of this care team just as you are, and it is my job to make sure you have emotional and spiritual care while you do your job.”
It may not be fair to generalize that medical professionals don’t respond to warm, mushy types in times of crisis as readily as the general population does, but until I hear a loud outcry of correction, I’m going to stick with that generalization as it’s based on my life experience.
I’m also making an analogy to a military chaplain, who wears the uniform of the military branch he or she serves. It’s a solidarity-identification thing: “I’m one of you, and I’m here for you.”
I think it’s a nice gesture and a wise choice. Rock on, Chappy.