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Tattoo Acceptability in the Medical Setting

December 12th, 2015 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Millions of people in today’s society have tattoos. Recently, it was discovered that tattoo have become more popular by 13% since 2007 and that about 42% of adults have tattoos (“Tattoos in the Workplace Statistics”). Due to this trend, tattoos are becoming more prevalent every day. Since my junior year of high school, I have been begging my parents to allow me to get a tattoo. Every time I asked them if I could get a tattoo they would come up an excuse on why I could not get one. Both of my parents have tattoos on their arms that could be easily covered up with a long-sleeve shirt but, not with a short-sleeve shirt. Their tattoos do not interfere with their jobs at all. My parents knew that one day I wanted to be an orthodontist. They would constantly express that not all people are open to doctors having tattoos so they were very reserved about me getting one. They also did not want me to get a tattoo that I would regret someday. Eventually, my parents caved in and allowed me to get a tattoo on my foot as a graduation gift when I was 17 years old. As mentioned before, my goal in life is to become an orthodontist, I knew did not want to have a tattoo in a place where it can be seen easily by patients. Today, people have different views on if tattoos should be seen in the medical setting. Medical professionals, as well as other occupations, are always judged on their tattoos on a daily basis. I think the main problem with visible tattoos is that they get a bad reputation from older generations that think tattoos are not appropriate. In fact, the presence of tattoos is protected by the Constitution because it is protected against the criminal law but, in the workplace they are not federally protected (“Tattoos in the Workplace Statistics”). In today’s society, tattoos are all about people expressing themselves through art on their skin. Tattoo acceptability in the medical professional setting has its pros and cons that are associated with them. Some people believe that tattoos are not acceptable while others believe that tattoos can help develop a strong patient and medical professional rapport. Tattoos should be accepted in the medical profession.18-Foot-Tattoo

“50 Awesome Foot Tattoo Designs | Art and Design.” Art and Design. 10 Aug. 2013. Web.
Sometimes, tattoos can be acceptable in the medical setting. Personally, I think tattoos that are not vulgar should be appropriate to be visible if wore with normal scrubs. Just because someone has tattoos does not mean that they are not as qualified as someone that does not have tattoos. There is an assumption that tattoos will make patients feel uncomfortable and lower their overall satisfaction of services due to the negative stereotypes that come with the presence of tattoos (Wittmann-Price 2). A study was done regarding the views of 150 patients towards medical professionals with tattoos. In this study the patients were shown a picture of a male and female healthcare professional with tattoos and one without tattoos. It was concluded that there were no differences in care, approachability, cooperativeness, attentiveness, reliability, professionalism, confidence, and efficiency between the tattooed healthcare provider and the non-tattooed healthcare provider. The majority of the people surveyed did not find it wrong for healthcare providers to have tattoos (Westerfield 3). When surveyed, many nurses believe that their professionalism should not be judged on their appearance and they also believe that professionalism is about “how one behaves and interacts with others, not to the style of clothes one wears or the presence of body art” (Wittmann-Price 2). In reality, tattoos are more acceptable in some occupations than others because some occupations are not a professional or strict on appearance as others. Sometimes tattoos can be a conversation starter with patients according to Emilie Robertson (Glauser 2). Glauser explained that if the patients have tattoos that are similar to that of the healthcare providers then the patient and healthcare providers has something to talk about. This entails that tattoos can make the patient feel more comfortable around the doctor since they have something to relate to.
Even though there are a lot of people who support tattoos in the medical setting, there are a lot of people who do not support it. Many hospitals and other healthcare facilities make it mandatory for their employees to cover up their tattoos while on the job (Wittmann-Price 1). “In 2011, for example, the Ottawa Hospital introduced a dress code that required tattoos to be covered and piercings removed. In January 2013, a labour arbitrator found the directive overstepped the rights of health-care workers, and the dress code was lifted” (Glauser 2). Emilie Robertson is a medical student that has six tattoos in various locations that are visible with scrubs on. Robertson understands that not everyone is comfortable with tattoos being visible on their doctor so she often tries to cover them up with long sleeves while with patients (Glauser 1). Another example is Kris Dodd, who is a third-year medical school student that has spent thousands of dollars trying to get a small portion of his tattoos removed. With the remaining of his tattoos, he wears long sleeves to cover them up (Glauser 2). He does this so he is not judged by his colleagues and patients. In a study done to compare female and male healthcare providers with tattoos, there was a slight inclination between them because women with tattoos were found to be less professional than male healthcare providers with tattoos (Westerfield 3). In another study was done, a picture of a nurse with body art and one without body art was shown to 240 people that were students, patients, nurses, and faculty members at a medical facility. The study showed that the nurse with tattoos appeared to be less knowledgeable, caring, and skilled as a nurse (Wittmann-Price pg.2). Through surveys, it was determined that people view their healthcare providers with tattoos in a different light than their healthcare providers without tattoos.
It is still rare to see doctors with visible tattoos (Glauser 1) but, I think that it is time for the world to start being more open to tattoos on their healthcare providers. There is a nurse that works at the doctor’s office that I go to with neck and arm tattoos. Ever since I was young, I always thought that she was very cool; I never thought less of her even as a child. In fact, I find it interesting when nurses and other medical professionals have tattoos because you learn more about them. Most tattoos have a lot of meaning behind them; this is probably the reason that they are becoming more prevalent in society. Personally I think that tattoos are not a bad thing, they are just a different way that people express themselves. Covering up tattoos are a great way to hide tattoos but, I do not think it should be mandatory to cover up tattoos in the medical setting. It all depends on the patient, some patients are comfortable with visible tattoos and some are not. I am all for tattoos in the medical setting as long as they are not derogative or excessive. In the study done by Wittmann-Price that showed that the nurse with tattoos were viewed to be less knowledgeable, caring, and skilled, I think is unfair. People should not be judged on their appearance at all. The stereotypes that are associated with tattoos makes people believe that tattoos are a horrible thing. Even though this is not always the case, it is important to know when tattoos can be shown and when they should be covered up around certain patients. Also, people who are thinking about going into the medical field should think about the location of their tattoo and how a patient may react to it before they get it. Patient also should know that doctors and other medical professionals have lives of their own and they should be able to make these decisions without being judged for it.
Glauser, Wendy. “About.” Wendy Glauser Journalist. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.
Glauser, Wendy. “Inked: Are Tattoos Still Taboo in Medical Circles?” Medical Post 50.2 (2014): 21,22,24. ProQuest. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.
Westerfield, Heather V, MSN,R.N., C.M.S.R.N., et al. “Patients’ Perceptions of Patient Care Providers with Tattoos and/or Body Piercings.” Journal of Nursing Administration 42.3 (2012): 160. ProQuest. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.
Wittmann-Price, Ruth A., Karen K. Gittings, and Kerrith McDowell Collins. “Nurses And Body Art: What’s Your Perception?.” Nursing 42.6 (2012): 62-64. Academic Search Complete. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.
“Tattoos in the Workplace Statistics.” Support Tattoos and Piercings at Work. Health the World, 2012. Web. 4 Dec. 2015.
Image: “50 Awesome Foot Tattoo Designs | Art and Design.” Art and Design. 10 Aug. 2013. Web.


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