A Brooklyn doctor explained why he wears scrubs “everywhere he goes” during an interview with ABC News correspondent Amy Robach on “GMA3: What You Need to Know.”
As a urology resident at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University, Arturo Holmes, 33, regularly spends 70 hours a week caring for patients during long shifts in the operating room. The doctor is constantly buried in work at the hospital and you couldn’t blame him for sticking to scrubs when meeting friends or on a run to the grocery store, especially during the coronavirus crisis. But Holmes says he doesn’t wear the medical garb because he’s busy. It’s to protect himself.
“What I noticed is that people were kind of treating me differently,” Holmes, who is Black, said. “They’re nicer, they don’t follow me around in stores. I’m less likely to get pulled over when I’m in my scrubs versus when I’m not in my scrubs.”
Holmes revealed there wasn’t a single incident that compelled him to stick to scrubs as “prejudice is something that is far ranging.” But one encounter in 2019 with several law enforcement officers stands out in particular, he said.
“I was driving on the way home and I was pulled over and there were four police officers in the car,” Holmes said. “They proceeded to suspect that I was being disrespectful. They were looking for gang-related activity in the area, but when they noticed my scrubs it seemed like the entire encounter shifted and they let me go home safely. I’m just thankful that everything turned out the way that it did.”
In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Holmes wrote that the scrubs became his reminder to others that “I am a person and not just a skin color.” It’s a reality he finds necessary even though it shouldn’t be, Holmes told Robach.
“Academic success, intentionality, nothing kind of exempts you from prejudice, whether it’s isolated or systemic,” Holmes said. “No one should need to wear any sort of professional uniform anywhere to be treated respectfully. Kindness is free as is compassion.”