A lab coat, also known as a white coat, is a knee-length overcoat worn by professionals generally in the medical field but is also worn by people involved in laboratory work. The coat protects their underlying regular clothes and also serves as a simple uniform. A lab coat is generally made from white or light-colored linen, cotton, or a cotton-polyester blend, making it easy to be washed at high temperatures and making it easy to see if it is clean.
Coats similar to these are a symbol of learning in the countries of Argentina and Uruguay, where they are worn by both teachers and teachers in state schools. In Mozambique and Tunisia, teachers wear lab coats to protect their clothes from chalk dust.
Lab coats are sometimes seen as the distinctive dress of both surgeons as well as physicians since they have been wearing them for over a century now. In the 19th century, respect for the certainty of science and western medicine was in stark contrast with the mysticism of nineteenth-century medicine. To make themselves distinct from those propagating the latter, surgeons and physicians started representing themselves as scientists, putting on the most recognizable and revered symbol of the scientist, the white lab coat. Today, laboratory coat ceremonies have become popular among those who are starting medical school. The laboratory coat as we know it today was introduced to medicine in the late 1800s as a symbol of cleanliness.
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