Can Surgeons Have Tattoos

Danielle Fletcher
• Wednesday, 09 December, 2020
• 9 min read

If young doctors follow suit, will it become a problem in the conservative world of medicine? A satisfied patient is more likely to appear for follow-up scans, to heed instructions on managing disease, and to take prescribed medications.

(Source: surgeo.com)


But all the above studies were conducted by asking patients how they would feel, hypothetically, about practitioners depicted in photos. Four male and three female emergency doctors agreed to wear temporary body art while they went about their regular work.

For females, the piercing was a prominent nose stud, and for males, it was a hooped earring. One male doctor dropped out because he felt uncomfortable wearing body art.

Jeanmonod, who participated in the study, says that she received no negative comments on her piercings and tattoos, but quite a few positive ones. She notes that a high proportion of patients seen in the emergency department have tattoos and piercings.

If you do get a tattoo, make sure you choose somewhere licensed and with a good reputation. If you end up with hepatitis or HIV you'll have ruined your chanced of ever becoming a surgeon.

It's completely “legal”, however, most people equate significant tattooing with a lack of judgement. If you feel the need to make a statement with body art, go ahead.

surgery veterinary field become types surgeons surgeon character
(Source: www.pinterest.com)

Just realize that it may very well eliminate whatever chance you might have of getting into medical school. Source(s): I'm a physician, and I wouldn't hire anyone covered in tattoos.

Anyone aspiring to be a surgeon or medical professional should be cognizant enough at the age of 17 to be able to answer this themselves... It may not be specifically prohibited in writing, but that seems to change frequently of late for professional organizations.

For example, many police departments have begun to ban tattoos that are noticeable in uniform; this was largely a reaction to the numerous recruits they were getting from the Marine Corps, which has relaxed its tattoo policy, with full-sleeves. IF you get a tattoo of or anybody modification you should take care to not have it be visible to any prospective employers, educators or patients.

Tattoo has come a LONG way in terms of cultural acceptance, but there are still many stigmas and negative associations attached. The wrong person noticing your body art could hurt your career, education or business; this goes for anyone in a professional field of work.

Patients don't like medical personnel with tattoos, particularly the little old ladies who get nervous and feel threatened just by your walking in the room. Yet you want to do something irresponsible and mutilate yourself like a pirate on the Spanish Main.

(Source: www.youtube.com)

When patients look to medical personnel, they want someone 100% trustworthy and mature, because they are in a very vulnerable position. Many hospitals try to control another aspect of a caregiver’s visual presentation: visible body art or piercings.

However, a new study published in the Emergency Medicine Journal suggests that whether a doctor has visible tattoos or piercings doesn’t seem to matter much to the patients they’re treating. “We were inspired to conduct this study because hospitals have many rules around what constitutes 'professionalism,' and some of these rules are excessively stringent and outdated when compared to the public,” Dr. Holly Stankewicz, associate program director of the Allopathic Emergency Medicine residency at St. Luke’s University Health Network in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and co-author on the study, told ABC News.

In this study, seven emergency room doctors chose each day to wear one of three options: (artificial) non-traditional piercings, stick-on tattoos, neither, nor both for nine months while seeing patients. One physician had real “full sleeve” tattoos on both arms, so on days he chose to have “no art or piercings,” he wore a white coat to cover them.

The patients -- all of whom were over the age of 18 -- were then surveyed about their satisfaction with care, and specifically rated the doctors’ competence, professionalism, empathy, approachability, trustworthiness, and reliability. For all five physicians, there was no difference in how the patients perceived their competence, comfort, professionalism, or approachability, whether they had a tattoo or piercing or not.

“At our center, I think it was helpful to change perceptions in both the administration and physicians and staff in general,” Stankewicz explained. In my experience, I’ve noticed that much older patients may have more traditional expectations about what their doctor should look like, whereas the younger ones do not,” Spar told ABC News.

tattoo croatian convention
(Source: winterheart-zombieboy.blogspot.com)

As such, it’s entirely possible that on days when the doctor wore a tattoo or piercing, they may have behaved more positively towards their patients, who then evaluated them more favorably. Across the board, patients are looking to their provider as a coach and advisor to work with them and less than a traditional authority figure,” Spar told ABC News.

At my office, we recognize that and something as simple as having casual Fridays, where we wear jeans, makes us more accessible to patients, and they are thus more likely to tell us what’s going on with them.” Dr. Smith Kalaichandran is a pediatrics resident doctor working in the ABC News Medical Unit in New York.

'’ For emergency physician Jeddah Ballard, DO, the tattoo of a large wolf adorning his entire left shoulder represents his childhood in the rural mountains of the West. In the ER in Augusta, Georgia, Dr. Ballard says his tattoos often help him connect with patients.

“I will show my tattoos to some patients to create an immediate bond, which is of great value in the fast pace of the emergency room,” he says. Although tattoo shave become much more accepted by the public, physicians still have differing views when asked whether it’s appropriate for doctors to show their tattoos at work.

Royal Manana, DO, got a large tattoo during her residency training and also found that it helped her connect with patients. “If you’re in a geriatric population, you’re sending a very different message than if you’re working with adolescents,” says Dr. Show alter, associate dean at Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences in Yakima, Washington.

tattoo doctors num gallifreyan tattoos
(Source: 500tattoos.com)

Emergency physician Chris Maisey, DO, takes a more conservative view when it comes to tattoos in the workplace. “I know some of our docs have tattoos, but they’re covered by their scrubs, not out in the open,” says Dr. Maisey, who is president of the American College of Osteopathic Emergency Physicians.

Jeffrey Grove, DO, a family medicine physician in Largo, Florida, keeps an open mind. A few months ago, a patient (about my age) asked me whether I had a tattoo.

Before I had a chance to answer, he interrupted himself by asking whether doctors were allowed to have tattoos. He asked the questions pretty spontaneously-- in the context of his being restarted on a blood thinner after a period of time without it.

Mostly, he was mourning the realization that he wouldn't be able to get a long-coveted tattoo now that he was back on the medicine. He was curious, then embarrassed, and ultimately, the conversation returned to his health care situation. I don't think I ever answered him.

I don't believe it's the personal nature of the inquiry that bothered me (I tend to be a pretty self-disclosing doctor). But after several days of chuckling, I moved from a place of amusement, to one of deeper consideration.

medical tattooing before
(Source: permanentmakeupbyamy.com)

I briefly did some Internet research on the topic of physicians with tattoos and came across a plethora forum in which applicants who were interviewing for medical school and residency training were discussing the need to “cover up” tattoos during the interview process. These forums made it quite clear-- in the land of auditions and under the guise of professionalism, doctors shouldn't have tattoos.

Many universities and hospitals, in fact, have dress codes prohibiting display of potentially offensive tattoos and promoting the covering of all tattoos “when feasible”. Of course, there are the distinguished doctors who get tattoos to honor their patients (see article here). Or those who tattoo themselves with their end of life wishes (see article here).

This article even features a picture of a young hip osteopathic doctor with a pretty sweet sleeve tattoo (look right: she looks a lot like one of the characters from Grey's Anatomy). The story quotes a 2006 study from The Journal of Dermatology that 36% of people born between the years 1975-1986 have tattoos.

Despite my own secret desire to be a rebel, I must admit that I, too, hold onto some pretty traditional ideas around professionalism. Though I don't often wear skirts or a white coat to work, I do believe in dressing professionally for my patients' makes.

I can imagine that some of my patients (especially the ones that sport their own beautiful body art) would just LOVE having a decorated physician. But many of my older and/or more traditional patients would certainly frown upon a visible tattoo-- tattoos might distract certain patients so much that they wouldn't be able share comfortably, listen to medical advice, or even want to see that doctor (I can almost hear one special patient of mine saying something like “I don't want to see that tattooed person ever again.

hours many surgeon surgeons medical week assistant doctor husband
(Source: www.pinterest.com)

To what extent is it the responsibility of the physician to have appearance that puts patients at ease versus an appearance that the physician feels good about? I would like to believe that most patients would prefer a brilliant loving doctor with tattoos to a dumb cold one without-- certainly, as I groused about in a prior post, what I really yearn for in my own provider is someone who knows something, listens to me, and cares about me.

Yes, physicians happen to have completed medical school and residency training (all of which took many years and a lot of effort), but just like our fellow humans, we have diverse strengths and weaknesses, unique hopes and dreams, fears, fallibility, and yes, even tattoos. In the footsteps of a generation of physicians who worked 100+ hours per week, completely and singularly focused on their patients, my generation of physicians is trying to be more than career physicians-- we are also hoping to be spouses and parents and friends and political activists, musicians, and scholars, and athletes, and dreamers, and community advocates.

I do intentionally share with my patients important pieces of my human self: why I work part-time (to be able to take my three-year-old to preschool and take him swimming), when I don't know something (I believe strongly in transparency when I don't have a good answer for why something is happening or what a patient should do), and even some of my own personal challenges (sharing my struggles with infertility, only when it seems relevant). Obviously, my patients' clinic visits are sacred space-- long-awaited appointments are definitely not about me-- so I don't share or expect to share all of my personal self, but I do disclose the parts that seem helpful for my patients' journeys.

Here are few examples (that I don't necessarily share with patients) of how I am a regular person: I pick up my dog's poop. I sometimes feel depressed and watch mindless TV to improve my mood.

I argue with my mom (sometimes in that snarky seventh grade way) My underwear drawer is a disaster. Since many of my closest friends are doctors, I can also vouch that THEY are regular people too.

way blessing god
(Source: blessing4women.blogspot.com)

Though they have uniquely different human traits than the ones I listed for myself above, they are regular nonetheless. After all, the human experience is what empowers us to ask questions when we are unsure, to admit to misunderstanding when communication is imperfect, to relate personally to our patients' struggles, to ask for help when we need it, and to apologize when we make mistakes.

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