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Tattoo perception?!??!?!?!?!


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Hello,

As a med school applicant with lots of tattoos, how is this perceived? I am sure this has been discussed at much length in the past, just wanna see where we are at.

For context, I have a full sleeve of flowers and waves on my left arm, which I had done on a trip to Japan. No other visible tattoos.

Discuss!

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As long as the tattoos themselves are not offensive and you're generally presentable in dress and decorum, don't think most people in medicine would care much about tattoos, even large ones. Facial tattoos or obvious neck tattoos might be the exception there, just because they can be distracting and aren't anywhere near as common as tattoos elsewhere, but I can't see anyone objecting to something a sleeve of flowers and waves. Plenty of physicians have tattoos, even ones that are visible in their day-to-day work.

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21 minutes ago, OBoyMD said:

Hello,

As a med school applicant with lots of tattoos, how is this perceived? I am sure this has been discussed at much length in the past, just wanna see where we are at.

For context, I have a full sleeve of flowers and waves on my left arm, which I had done on a trip to Japan. No other visible tattoos.

Discuss!

https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/patients-don-t-mind-body-art-1.4736490

times are changing i’d like to think

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Just now, ralk said:

As long as the tattoos themselves are not offensive and you're generally presentable in dress and decorum, don't think most people in medicine would care much about tattoos, even large ones. Facial tattoos or obvious neck tattoos might be the exception there, just because they can be distracting and aren't anywhere near as common as tattoos elsewhere, but I can't see anyone objecting to something a sleeve of flowers and waves. Plenty of physicians have tattoos, even ones that are visible in their day-to-day work.

Seems logical. The only thing is, potentially the older patient demographic would be apprehensive?

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8 minutes ago, OBoyMD said:

Seems logical. The only thing is, potentially the older patient demographic would be apprehensive?

Have you seen the tattoos some old people have?! It'll be a good conversation starter for a lot of them. Yeah, there might be a few who don't fit perfectly with your personality including with how you appear, but every physician has patients like that, who aren't a perfect fit for whatever reason, but for whom a good relationship with can still be developed. That you're aware of the possible perception is important, as you may have to adjust your conduct for more traditionally-minded patients, but that's a very small challenge to overcome.

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3 minutes ago, ralk said:

Have you seen the tattoos some old people have?! It'll be a good conversation starter for a lot of them. Yeah, there might be a few who don't fit perfectly with your personality including with how you appear, but every physician has patients like that, who aren't a perfect fit for whatever reason, but for whom a good relationship with can still be developed. That you're aware of the possible perception is important, as you may have to adjust your conduct for more traditionally-minded patients, but that's a very small challenge to overcome.

Thanks for the input, appreciated!

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4 minutes ago, ArchEnemy said:

This.

Medicine is still very much a conservative profession. Yes your parents may not mind it, but that does not mean that your supervisors/administrators will not. Especially with a full sleeve.

For sure, I understand that totally. I am fully comfortable taking the hits for my decisions, I am fully aware that nobody owes me anything hahah.

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It seems like your tattoos are easy to cover in a dress shirt, which is what you will be wearing to the interview but also for most interactions with patients in a clinical setting. The only time you would be wearing short sleeves would be in scrubs, but you could easily pop a white coat overtop to hide the tattoos if you had any concerns. Most preceptors won’t mind and many of them will also have tattoos.

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Some people don’t care, but not all.

Whether it’s clinical encounter or an interview situation, not only is it not worth the risk, I also would rather let the other aspects of my identity (my actions, personality etc.) do the talking. 

Personally I try to look professionally bland as a trainee. If you see a patient with tats, and you think talking about yours would be good for building rapport, then by all means. I would rather keep that option open. 

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I have one on my forearm that I hid for the interview but don't plan to hide anymore (unless it violates dress codes anywhere). It's non-offensive and medically related and people seem to like it after I explain the significance, even if they were on the fence before. 

I do plan to ask anyone I shadow if it bothers them though. If they say yes I will keep it covered. If no, I won't flaunt it but won't hide it either. 

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I don't know about medical faculties, but clinical settings are still a pretty conservative I feel, but maybe context also matters.

It's super anecdotal, but I see more and more white male physicians and nurses keeping their tattoo visible at work (sleeves seem very popular), while others folks tend to hide them until they clock off and I only learn that they're inked if they tell me or if I see them elsewhere.

Maybe tattoo are more acceptable depending who you are, or maybe people don't want potential stigma to pile on, say your a black women keeping her hair natural and healthy or Muslim women wearing religious garment.

Fear and stigma over tattoos have diminish over the years and for many tattoos have moved from a perceived aspect of identity (antisocial traits) to an aesthetic / fashion piece, so wherever we are now times are changing for the better I’d like to think.

Anyhow, you already have the tattoo, don't stress too much about it B)

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I don't think it matters at all in your average clinical setting.

That being said, you need to be aware of the fact that while MOST people you encounter will not care, SOME will immediately judge you for it.  (For example, I have been told before by an interviewer a story that a candidate came with tattoos showing, and they were basically laughing at the poor judgement and tossed the file).

So basically- like others have said, I highly recommend covering them in interviews.  And maybe in an elective where you need a letter (if you want to be extra cautious).  Otherwise no big deal.  

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  • 5 months later...

This is super good to read. I thought I was doomed to wear long sleeves for the rest of my life. I have pretty much a full sleeve. I'm a tiny female, so it definitely is something people point out right away when they see me. I'm definitely not showing it in the interview, but if I had to hide it in class, I would go insane eventually.

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