Medieval plague doctors thought the smelly herbs and flowers they stuffed in their masks would keep them healthy. They didn't. But their impenetrable (and spooky!) leather outfits actually did! That coat was like the hazmat suit of their day. Today we have soap, so unless you particularly like wearing a lot of leather, maybe just wash your hands instead. Actually, wash your hands either way. Now wash them again. Please be aware, the glow-in-the-dark lantern can be seen at night!
A plague doctor was a physician who treated victims of the bubonic plague. In times of epidemics, these physicians were specifically hired by towns where the plague had taken hold. Since the city was paying them a salary, they treated everyone, wealthy or poor.
However, some plague doctors were known to charge patients and their families additional fees for special treatments or false cures. Typically, they were not experienced physicians or surgeons at all; rather, they were often either second-rate doctors unable to otherwise run a successful medical practice or young physicians seeking to establish themselves in the industry. They rarely cured their patients; rather, they served to record a count of the number of infected people for demographic purposes.
Plague doctors by their covenant treated plague patients and were known as municipal or "community plague doctors", whereas "general practitioners" were separate doctors and both might be in the same European city or town at the same time. In France and the Netherlands, plague doctors often lacked medical training and were referred to as "empirics". In one case, a plague doctor had been a fruit salesman before his employment as a physician.
In the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, some doctors wore a beak-like mask that was filled with aromatic items. The masks were designed to protect them from putrid air, which (according to the now-obsolete miasmatic theory of disease) was seen as the cause of infection. The design of the mask and clothing has been attributed to Charles de Lorme, the chief physician to Louis XIII.