It has been said that a study was done where they gave non-medical people white coats to wear and these people said they felt more confident. Having owned a white coat for a year now, I have to say I haven't really felt that way. Don't get me wrong, the white coat definitely makes me feel confident. However, it doesn't make me feel confident in my medical skills.
All of that has changed.
In one short week, this white coat has really opened a lot of doors for me. I think when you are at a medical school, the novelty of medical students wears off...quickly. At the clinic where I work (25 minutes north of my school), all the doctors I have met (at the clinic and at the hospital nearby) have been extremely friendly and extremely open. They all seem so willing to help me learn and it's such a refreshing feeling. Despite the fact that my medical school doesn't have an undergraduate institution, it doesn't make it any less competitive to get an internship/externship/research/blah blah blah.
Today, one of the doctors at the clinic I work at (not one of my two mentors) suggested I go to the hospital nearby to see one of his patients with an intense case of rheumatoid arthritis. She had nodules on her hands and her hands had that sort of gnarled look that happens with an extreme case of rheumatoid arthritis. The patient was more than happy to receive me (did I forget to mention I went alone?) and talk to me about her history of rheumatoid arthritis. I have to tell you the white coat makes patients more than willing to help/share and it also helps me feel more capable.