“It all started after a tough day of work,” explains Dr. Winslow. “One of my residents was really pissing me off that day for whatever reason, so when I got home, I sat on my couch thinking of ways to shame the guy. All of a sudden this genius plan came to mind.”
The “genius plan” Dr. Winslow devised entails removing strips of his residents’ white coats with shears for each mistake made.
“Think about it,” says Dr. Winslow. “I’ve got a long coat, but I’m the boss. I don’t make mistakes. Why should they have the same coat privileges that I do? This way, everyone can see how many mistakes they’ve made, and their public humiliation will prevent them from making any more.”
One resident in particular, Dr. Christopher Seymour, has been hit the hardest by Dr. Winslow’s new coat-shortening policy.
“I was having a really rough week. I was holding the instruments wrong in the OR, cutting knots too short, then too long. I was a disaster and Winslow was furious. We get to rounds the next day, and to make up for the day prior, I quickly ran to gather all the vitals on all the patients. I wrote down all the ins, but guess what? I forgot the outs. As soon as Dr. Winslow realized my mistake, he threw down his papers, walked over to the desk and grabbed shears. He made me turn around and took two-inches off the back of my coat in front of everyone. It was humiliating.”
“My god, that was a glorious moment,” recalls a triumphant Dr. Winslow. “One of those times you really get to show everyone how in-charge you truly are.”
But not everyone is as thrilled with the new shaming tactic, least of all, Dr. Seymour.
“Over the last two weeks, my coat’s just gotten shorter and shorter. It doesn’t even reach my belt line anymore. Yesterday, the med student ordered me to grab him some gauze and a kerlix. The med student, for god’s sake. I used to be the senior on the team, now I’m the supply mule. I can’t even use my pockets to carry stuff because they’ve been cut off!”
Surgery departments throughout the hospital are taking note of the policy and are in the process of implementing similar tactics. One attending was overheard saying, “Why didn’t we think of this genius idea before!”
Many are already speculating that the ACGME will not be happy and will soon publish minimum lengths for white coat lengths to protect residents.