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The Boston Globe


The Podium

Medical staff needs to lose the tie and the rings

Walk into a hospital in the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands and much of Scandanavia and take a good look around. What don’t you see? No male physicians wear ties. No one is wearing a lab coat. No one — male or female — is wearing rings, not even a lone wedding band. No watches adorn wrists – people pull them out of their pockets when they want to check vital signs. No stethoscopes dangle around the neck of either doctors or nurses. There is instead a stethoscope in each patient’s room.

Now consider the United States or Canada. White coats remain the symbol of status for physicians and some elite nurses, like nurse practitioners. Women and men wear rings galore, and it’s hard to find anyone without a wrist watch. Ties — mostly traditional long ones — are de rigeur for docs. And stethoscopes are draped casually around the neck as if the latest fashion accessory.

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