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Dressed to Heal

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So you can tell they're not a plumber or princess.

Simon: So, you're a doctor?
Samantha: I am. Did Dave mention that?
Simon: No. You're wearing a stethoscope.

Things every doctor (and those who play them) wears on TV. You know:

  • Lab coat
  • Stethoscope on the neck or around the coat's collar
  • (obsolete) Otolaryngologist / head mirror on forehead
  • Clipboard
  • Dinky little glasses

Nurses will usually have that folded white cap with The Red Cross logo on it and a starched white skirt-and-blouse or minidress uniform.

And specially for Deadly Doctors:

What easier way to tell the audience what the character does besides these things?


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach:
    • Ryuuken Ishida is the Director of Karakura General Hospital and a qualified surgeon. Outside work, he's a Badass in a Nice Suit. In work, he never removes the lab coat even when doing paperwork. He's never performed surgery on-screen.
    • Isshin Kurosaki also wears his lab coat constantly during work hours. He's a hands-on GP who has no surgical skill and is only equipped to diagnose and treat minor injuries. He has to send more serious medical cases to Ryuuken's hospital.
  • Shinra Kishitani of Durarara!! insists on wearing his lab coat everywhere, to the point that his girlfriend has to bargain to get him to take it off.
  • Ririka of Nurse Angel Ririka SOS wears a Magical Girl-ified version of a nurse's outfit.
  • The Pokémonnote  that assist all the Nurse Joys in Pokémon: The Series have nurse hats with different coloured crosses representing which Pokémon center they work at.
  • Yuuri from Puella Magi Kazumi Magica was a magical girl whose outfit was reminiscent of a nurse's uniform, wearing the folded cap on top of her head and her weapon was a large, hypodermic syringe needle. Her main magical ability was to heal.

    Comic Books 
  • In The DCU, the Crime Doctor typically wears a surgical gown, mask and cap, along with a head mirror. The head mirror is capable of shining a blinding beam of light.
  • Marvel Universe example; Dr. Lynda Carter, who provides medical care to New York's superheroes under the name Night Nurse note , wears a starched white tunic and dress with nurse's cap and a vintage short black nurse's cape. She joked that "Night Nurse" sounded better than "Night General Practitioner". Doctor Strange suggested once that she had a "Florence Nightingale fetish".
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): The Amazon physician Althea does not wear a lab coat, but does wear a head mirror, stethoscope and glasses.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): When Martian Manhunter decides to see if he can help an apparently comatose Diana with telepathy he manages to walk straight into her room by dressing in scrubs and a labcoat which made the nurses who saw him believe he belonged there even though they didn't recognize the face he was using for his doctor disguise.

    Film — Live Action 
  • Given a nod in Airplane! when Dr. Rumack is introduced wearing a stethoscope for no reason, first shown right after he's asked whether he's a doctor.
  • Mr. Bean in Bean sees a doctor drop his stethoscope and tries to give it back to him. As a result of this trope he is mistaken for a senior surgeon and is scrubbed up for a major operation despite not having any identification or uniform and has to perform surgery on a patient. The patient survives. Somehow.
  • The Carry On series skewered the medical profession more than any other. In all of them, the nurses, sisters, and matrons wore the uniform of their level and the doctors wore white coats. No mirrors though.
  • Exploited in Patch Adams when Robin Williams uses a white coat (with an extremely large logo on the back) given to him by a group of butchers to gain entrance to a teaching hospital as a third year med student.
  • Daffy Duck wears a lab coat, gloves and head band while examining Michael Jordan in Space Jam. They're all about two sizes too big.

  • In the Bio Punk setting of Twig, doctors wear a long black coat, so that "the stains won't show," along with thick rubber gloves to protect their skin.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Daily Show featured a poem commenting on a doctor in the front row of a Trump campaign rally visible by his lab coat and stethoscope, titled "I Am A Doctor".
  • House: Dr. House usually averts this; not so much his colleagues. In the early seasons a Running Gag is that House refuses to wear scrubs or the standard white lab coat and will only do the bare minimum to maintain hygiene standards.
  • On Joey, once the title character gets some of the props from his Days of Our Lives tenure, he highlights how his costume was this by putting the stethoscope and calling it "necklace".
  • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid goes with some of the points noted bellow in Real Life section. Wearing white coat is treated as a symbol of being doctor. note  Emu Hojo is a pediatrician who wears gaming t-shirts to go with his informal attitude towards his patients, one of whom had white coat syndrome. Version of stethoscope, called gamescope, is used for initial diagnose of Game Disease.
  • On M*A*S*H, the doctors (and Margaret) regularly wear lab coats and stethoscopes when on Post-Op duty.
    • Also, Klinger would often wear a nurse's dress during OR and Post-Op scenes.
  • Monday Mornings: Most doctors wear either blue or dark-green scrubs most of the time, occasionally supplemented with white coats. Clip boards and examination thingies like little flash-lights appear from time to time as well.
  • Our Miss Brooks, in the episodes "Hospital Capers" and "Second Hand First Aid".
  • Averted in Scrubs, where JD only ever wears the usual white coat in one episode and it's a plot point then. Many other doctors do wear it, though. They wear (and use) stethoscopes, however. JD and Turk do wear a large lab coat when playing the World's Most Giant Doctor. The show (correctly) portrays most of the doctors, nurses and surgeons as wearing scrubs.
  • The X-Files, "Kill Switch": The nurses and the doctor who rush Agent Mulder into an operating theatre look a little too much nurse-like and doctor-like in their obsolete white outfits. Especially the nurses' caps. It's the first but very subtle hint that Mulder is trapped in a virtual reality simulator.

  • A number of medics in Dino Attack RPG are known to wear white labcoats, Pierce and Medic being the two most obvious examples.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • In BioShock, the Dr. Grossman Splicer model is dressed in a dirtied surgical gown and mask with gloves and a large magnifying glass strapped to his head in lieu of the usual head-mirror. Dr. Steinman, who is based on the Grossman Splicer, is dressed similarly, albeit his entire outfit is fully red (possibly not its original color). Ironically, their main purpose in the game is to cause as much harm to you as possible.
  • Chulip: Doctor Dandy has the lab coat, stethoscope, and the head mirror, and at night, rubber gloves and a huge-ass needle.
  • In City of Heroes, Dr Vahzilok wears the head-mirror, though no other surgical garb (which likely would not fit his grotesquely surgically altered form). Interestingly, he is actually wearing it correctly, positioned over his right eye rather than in the center of his forehead.
  • Dr. Fred Edison in Day of the Tentacle doesn't actually do any healing at any point in the game, but the mirror on his head makes it quite clear that he is a doctor. It's also a vital component in the game's very last puzzle — the Big Bad has a Shrink Ray, and Mirrors Reflect Everything, so if you goad him into shooting Dr. Fred...
  • Dr. Mario has Mario swap his red shirt and blue overalls for a white Labcoat of Science and Medicine. He also wears a mirror instead of his trademark hat purely for the sake of this trope.
  • In Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, white coats are not only worn by scientists and doctors, but often actually confer extra medical or scientific skills to non-doctors wearing them. Field medics and wasteland doctors instead wear fatigues and tanktops. With disturbing amounts of blood splatter. You can also find plenty of scrubs in Big MT, though never worn since their original owners are either dead or have become brains in jars.
  • In Final Fantasy XIV, the Sage's exclusive class armor features mostly white robes and a special visor in place of the more typical modern stethosocpe. It's also the most "modern" of the healer jobs available as of Endwalker, mixing aetherology and the latest Sharlayan technology with cutting-edge medical techniques to heal allies and shield them from damage as well as attack foes with Beam Spam via their nouliths.
  • Love Nikki - Dress Up Queen: Apple Federal has two outfits that fit this trope. Sacred Doctor (the "good" version) plays it straight with the white lab coat and stethoscope, but White Demon, the Deadly Doctor variant, adds rubber gloves, a mask, and surgical scissors.
  • Even when working in a small wooden shed in the jungles of the lower Andes, Naomi Hunter in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots wears a lab coat (albeit one with a Navel-Deep Neckline).
  • In the interactive romance novel Moonrise, the player character and Chika Itou are in their first year of medical internship and wear the Labcoat of Science and Medicine.
  • In Overwatch, while Mercy doesn't wear a white coat in-game, she does have the red cross on her clothing (being Swiss and all), and in her Combat Medic Ziegler skin, has a small white nurse's hat. The Uprising comic also puts her in a white labcoat while testing Genji and Tracer's abilities.
    • Ana's Merciful skin is all white and features the red cross.
  • Story of Seasons:
  • In Tales of the Abyss, one of Jade's alternate costumes has him dressed as a doctor, with a head mirror accompanying the labcoat so that you know he's dressed as a doctor and not a Mad Scientist. (Given that this is Jade we're talking about, they did in fact need to make the distinction clear.)
  • The Medic of Team Fortress 2 wears a white labcoat and gloves. A patch eventually added a Randomly Drops mirror for his head and a surgical mask for his face.
    • In the beta, he had a stethoscope slung around his neck for absolutely no reason. While he no longer carries it with him, it can still be seen in his cubby in the respawn room, and another Randomly Drops item allows him to put it back around his neck.
  • Averted with Eirin Yagokoro of Touhou Project: the only part of her character design that identifies her as a medical professional is the cross on her hat.
  • Trauma Center, as a series centered around medical professionals, naturally has a lot of recognizable outfits. There are a few variations though: instead of a head mirror, doctors are issued a piece of headgear that would not look out of place in Sam Fisher's wardrobe, and Caduces apparently has their nurses' uniforms made to very specific order, judging by how well-defined their chests are.

  • The title character of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja always wears a lab coat and stethoscope, in addition to the ninja mask and katana.
  • Least I Could Do: Rayne's brother, Eric, wears a lab coat, not to show his intent to heal, but to attract women with his profession. Lampshaded hilariously when he removes it and hides it while walking past a car accident with an injured victim.
  • Doctors in Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal wear these. It's probably because there are zero recurring characters, so visual archetypes like this are needed.
  • xkcd parodied this in a strip which featured a character dressed in a labcoat telling a pregnant woman "Until the second trimester, the baby hasn't decided which opening it will exit through," and the caption "Did you know you can just buy lab coats?"

    Web Original 
  • While reviewing several Nickelodeon medical scenes, Doctor Mike gets increasingly infuriated at the number of cartoon characters wearing the head mirror, having gone into the field long after they became obsolete and thus having no idea what it is or does.
  • Doki's uniform is a traditional nurses outfit, up until the last one, in which case, her uniform are scrubs and scrub cap. Apparently, she traded in her original uniform for those because its "more practical".
  • On Neopets, the Gelert running the Hospital has a correctly-drawn and worn otolaryngologist's mirror—over one eye with an eyehole. Oh, and the rest of this trope fits.
  • Wayward Guide for the Untrained Eye:
    • The main characters first meet Henry Edwards passed out drunk at the bar. It isn't until Paul wakes to see Henry in a lab coat treating him that it becomes apparent that Henry is the town doctor.
    • Subverted with Rita Waldeburg, who also wears a lab coat (albeit fur-lined) while on the job - she's the town mortician.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Since the 1970s, nurses in the US rarely wear the traditional white dress or folded cap anymore, although the uniform is still fairly common in other countries. In practical terms, scrubs are much easier to move around in and keep clean (those white caps? they're actually a reservoir for germs). In cultural terms, there's been a shift towards treating nursing/patient care as a gender-neutral (instead of stereotypically feminized) profession separate from but coequal to medicine and surgery. Nursing uniforms have accordingly been shifting to become more professional and less gendered.
    • In Australia, scrubs are not worn all the time by nursing staff in hospitals; this is usually a private practice style, though it can depend on your department, eg. surgical nurses will wear scrubs all shift long. Uniforms do still include skirts, though it is an option, and these can be replaced with shorts or slacks. Some hospitals have uniforms more like office staff.
  • Truth in Television: The white coat still is the traditional uniform for doctors in the US, as it has been for the last 100 years. Many medical schools even have a special ceremony for awarding the coat, symbolizing that the students are ready to start seeing patients. This has been changing somewhat in recent years as more patients are seen in informal clinic settings but it's still very much the case in larger hospitals.
    • The white coat is so universal a synonym for "doctor" that there is even a syndrome named after it.
    • In the UK, Australia and other countries the white coat has fallen out of vogue for doctors. Scrubs may still be worn depending on the specialty, but the most common dress code is business casual or business suits, depending on seniority and personal preference; paediatricians often dress even less formally so as not to intimidate young patients. Neckties have been banned from hospital wards for hygiene and safety reasons; bowties are apparently in a bit of a grey area.
  • Particularly in the US, the use of lab coats has become something of a controversy among mental healthcare professionals like therapists, chiefly in clinical settings like psychiatric hospitals. Some therapists want to avoid them even if they're the facility norm to come across as "different" than psychologists or psychiatrists the patients are also seeing all day. Others have found that playing the trope straight gets people more cooperative with treatment.
  • It is common in media to see a flatheaded stethoscope being used/worn by doctors. This is often advertised as a nurses' stethoscope, but nursing have evolved a bit since WW2, and nurses usually use the same dual-headed stethoscopes as doctors. People often use them in media, though, when pretending to be a doctor; even though it really only makes sense to anyone who knows anything about the subject in a school biology class. If you've bought one for your Hallowe'en costume, it would look more correct with a schoolkid costume than a doctor costume. If someone is examining you with one in a real clinic, they may well be a killer rather than a doctor. Or a porn filmmaker of dubious legality.


Video Example(s):


Dr. Universe

Steven spends his free time administering his healing spit to cracked gems.

How well does it match the trope?

4.57 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / DressedToHeal

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