Cotton for the hospital. What about clinic? Next year I start dermatology residency so the vast majority of my time will be spent in clinic. Anyway I guess the question for me comes down to buying some slacks to tide me over for a bit or just buying a pair or two at a time and keeping them for the foreseeable future. My current slacks can probably suffice if I were to trickle Howard Younts into the rotation over the next several months. My expenses aren't such that I'm totally strapped by any means so it probably wouldn't break the bank either.
Clinic? Depends on the clinic. But I would suggest that you wear something simple and practical. It's not a matter of what you can afford.
The orderly on the left is wearing a tie. Anyway, hospitals are warm for the patients and you want something that's comfortable and without ties and sleeves getting in the way of what you have to do. Another thing, there have been studies on what a doctor should wear so that the patients feel comfortable, this is especially so for kids, and the lab coat and what I suggested above is about right. Kids for some reason have some strict idea in their heads about what a doctor should look like and the lab coat is what they like and puts them at ease. By the 70's when I was a med student it was already becoming a lot less formal but when I was a kid and had to go to the doctor (usually one of my much older cousins) they were wearing suits and ties in their office and it would scare me. They looked more like undertakers than doctors