Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Coat of Professionalism

The person with the stethoscope is coming closer. The fear starts to build up. The pain gradually become more painful as that person is getting closer to them. The pain from needle is too much to bear with. The fear is too intense for them to handle. Then out of nowhere, they start to cry and try to run away from that person.

This was a common situation that I faced everyday while doing my elective in paediatrics back in Malaysia. Children are too afraid of anyone wearing stethoscope and will always associate them with needles. Any attempt of even touching them or putting the stethoscope on their chest will result in an endless crying and this may lead to futile effort to examine them.

Sometimes, we have to struggle with the children while the parent holding them down for us to check their heart and lung function. An outsider may saws this act as quite cruel but it was necessary for their own health.

Every doctor working in Malaysia has to wear white coat. The main reason behind this is to show the so-called professionalism. Every male doctor has to wear tie as well and this is certainly not suitable in hot humid environment in Malaysia.

The only department in the hospital that does not follow this code of conduct is paediatrics (a branch of medicine that looks after kids). White coat is the main source of fear to the patients. At least by not wearing white coat on the ward, this may help to reduce their anxiety. Nevertheless, any doctors or nurses for that matter, will always be associated with needles injection and most of the kids will developed intense fear towards the health professionals.

As a medical student who is trained in Australia, it was quite amusing for me to see everyone working in the hospital to wear white coats. Doctors, nurses and medical assistants have to wear white coat every day. I would not argue with this regulation if all the hospitals in Malaysia is fully air-conditioned but this was not the case.

In Australia, doctors are not required to wear white coat and it is not compulsory for male doctors to wear tie. Nurses have their own uniform but it is not white in colour wink. I guess we can be professional even without the white coat.

According to google, professionalism is defined as
  • the expertness characteristic of a professional person
  • professionalist - A person or organisation that supports a professional attitude
  • an occupation, vocation or high-status career, usually involving prolonged academic training, formal qualifications and membership of a professional or regulatory body


nhh_318 said...

1. di australia uniform cik misi kaler apa?
2. ala sama saja. kalau ubah kaler cik misi di malaysia, still UNIFORM namanya kan? tatau la kalau doc berpendapat u all nak pakai smart casual pulak untuk avoid those patient fearness?


Ummu Layth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ummu Layth said...

tolong jawabkan. sini nurse takde uniform. they just wear trousers and blouse/ tight t-shirt. they don't have any dress code or wear the same coloured clothes. in the hosp only the paramedics/ cleaners/janitors have uniform.

tak kisah la doctors nak pakai baju apa asalkan kemas and nampak mcm pergi kerja. tak perlu ultra formal or even white coat. white coat doesn't make you 'professional'. rasa megah aje ada kot. apa gunanya pakai white coat utk "professionalism" tapi doctors take out their anger and frustration on patients (unprofessional), insult doctors inferior to them (unprofessional), not respecting patient's requests (unprofessional).

haha paeds kat msia pakai casual tak? the paeds in ED kat RCH siap pakai jeans and tshirt with funny captions. but the lady paeds are more la jugak. maybe because children gravitate more towards women regardless of what they're wearing.

nhh_318 said...

so, para doktor sekalian, bila kalian kembali bertugas di tanah air sendiri, jangan lupa propose la pada gvmnt abt that yer.

tapi kan, rasanya bahaya juga kalau boleh pakai sebarangan sahaja esp untuk wad pediatrik. nanti sebarangan orang yang masuk, kidnap baby, kidnap kids, macam mana? uish...bahaya...

tapi pakaian walaupun bukan perkara utama, tetapi tetap menjadi keutamaan...rasanya la. selain daripada muka doc jangan la garang sangat kat kids, kesian kat mereka...

betui ka?

hmmm ... ?

Hafiz said...

thanks Aliya for answering the question. I thought the nurse have some sort of uniform but I was wrong.

Paeds in Malaysia still wears formal clothes. At least that is better than wearing a white coat :)

@nnh, boleh ajer propose tetapi biasanya ia akan mengambil masa lama untuk mengubah dasar kementerian kesihatan.

Mengenai bab menculik tu, kalau pakai baju putih pun tak menghalang perkara itu juga.

Hampir semua paediatrician di Australia tak garang, malah sangat baik terhadap pesakit, keluarga dan pelajar perubatan.

Di Malaysia, masih ada lagi segelintir paediatricians yang sangat garang pada kanak-kanak. Tak tahu bagaimana mereka boleh survive in paediatrics.

hayad said...

hurmm, btul jgk kan? warna putih je kalo pi hospital kt mesia ni. doc pakai coat putih, nurse putih, cadar pun putih... gggrrr, mengerikan. lg tambah sakit dibuatnya, hehehe.

fali said...

I just think that it is more a superficial thing when it comes to goverment agencies in Malaysia. More to the exterior than the quality of work an care that they provide.

You don't see doctors at private hospitals wearing the white coat out of regulations. Or maybe it's a cultural thing pass down from our colonial masters. Perhaps. I don't know but most likely I assume.

Hafiz said...

@hayad, nak buat camner kan, satu dunia pilih warna putih untuk hospital. Bagi sesiapa yang koma n lepas tu terjaga di hospital, mesti ingat dia sudah meninggal dunia sebab banyak sangat benda warna putih di hospital.

@ Fali, there are more important stuff than just wearing a white coat.

I think it is a worldwide tradition/culture that all health professionals have to wear white coat. However, some countries have abolished this culture :)