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Are Nurses and Doctors with Visible Tattoos Really a Big Deal?

Dr. David Ores, a graduate of Columbia University Medical Center, shows both sides of his lifestyle. Stating, “Just because I have tattoos does not mean I don’t know how to save your life”. Dr. Ores is showing that you can have tattoos and be educated with a degree.

Imagine studying for years to become a doctor or a nurse, you graduate and finally land that perfect interview. You dedicated half your life for the perfect job, ace the interview, all to be denied because of some visible tattoos. Tattoos have become increasingly popular over the years, especially with the younger generation. People choose tattoos for various reasons. Some have tattoos because they are a sign of self-expression, a memory, art, or to tell a story. Unfortunately, many employers see tattoos as a bad image for their workplace. In fact, 37% of Human Resource managers see tattoos to be the third most leading physical attribute that could limit one’s career potential.

But the question is, do tattoos affect the way you work or learn?

Tattoos do not hinder the way you perform at work or the grades you get in school. Unfortunately, there are still people who judge a book by their cover and feel having a visible tattoo will define the character or actions of a person. For instance, a patient who is in need of a doctor refuses treatment because the doctor has a tattoo on his arm. She is an elderly lady who says she wishes not to have the doctor treat her because of his tattoo and calls him a delinquent and uneducated. Therefore, this lady totally refused her only hope of medical treatment because of her judgment against his tattoos. Little does the lady know, this doctor is more than qualified to treat her and he specializes in her condition. Sadly she is too quick to judge him based on his appearance rather than his qualifications.

All doctors need to complete the requirements of schooling and training to become a doctor. It takes 4 years of undergraduate school, 4 years of medical school, and 3 to 7 years of residency before getting his or her doctorate license. That’s a lot of knowledge if you ask me. That being said, having a tattoo will not affect the way you study, how long you study, the grades you get, the skills learned, or how you work. Tattoos will not make you study or learn any less. Only your mindset and the unwillingness to push yourself forward to learn will hold you back from the education and training you need to be successful.

What are the results of studies done of patients and healthcare providers towards tattoos?

A study was done regarding the views of 150 patients towards medical professionals with tattoos. In the study, the patients were shown a picture of a male and female healthcare professional, one with and without tattoos. It was concluded that there were no differences in care, approachability, attentiveness, cooperativeness, reliability, professionalism, confidence, and efficiency between the tattooed healthcare provider and the none tattooed healthcare provider. The majority of the people surveyed did not find it wrong for healthcare providers to have tattoos. When surveyed, many nurses believe that their professionalism should not be judged on their appearance. 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.

It is known that if the patients have tattoos similar to one of the healthcare providers, then the patient and healthcare provider will have something to talk about. This actually can make the patient feel more comfortable around the healthcare provider since they have something to relate to.

During a study of male and female healthcare providers with tattoos, there was a slight difference between the two genders because women with tattoos were found to be less professional than male healthcare providers with tattoos. In another study 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. Through surveys, it was determined that people view their healthcare providers with tattoos in a different light than their healthcare providers without tattoos.

Unfortunately, due to the high demand, the medical field has a lot of need for medical professionals right now. With tattoos being as popular, more and more places are hiring nurses and doctors with tattoos. Hospitals, medical facilities, and doctors offices state that they would rather hire someone with tattoos, skills sets, education, and knowledge they need to perform the job as opposed to someone with no tattoos and not as much education and skills.

Even though there are a lot of people who support tattoos in the medical field, there are a lot of people who still do not. Some hospitals and other healthcare facilities still make it mandatory for their employees to cover up their tattoos while on the job. Some employers say that tattoos are not professional nor look professional. They also say it puts a negative stigma on caregivers, by the patients, of being associated with criminal activity.

In 2011, for example, the Ottawa Hospital introduced a dress code that required tattoos to be covered and piercings removed. In January 2013, a labor arbitrator found the directive to overstep the rights of healthcare workers to cover tattoos, and the dress code was lifted. The hospitals and facilities can now choose whether or not the healthcare providers can have tattoos or not. All in all, when one is in need of help, does it really matter what the person saving your life looks like or if he or she has tattoos or not? No! What matters is the fact they are giving you the help you need in order to save your life.

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