Thursday, 2 April 2009

Let's get tattoos

“What do you think about it Michael?” I’ve just walked into the doctor’s mess at lunchtime and the person posing me this question is my friend Andy, a junior surgeon.

“What do I think about what?” I say as I pull up a chair and open up my lunchbox.
“I’m thinking of getting a tattoo – but I’m not sure if it’s a good idea. People might look down on me because of it and I’m not sure that people will like it.”
“What are you going to get?”
“I don’t know, some sort of pattern – here on my arm he says as he point to his forearm.
“Personally, I think tattoos there are pretty cool. If you want one, you should go for it.”
“Yeah – but what if the bosses don’t like it?”
“I wouldn’t worry too much about that – it’s your body after all and you can always cover it up.”
Bare below the elbows, Michael!”
“Oh yeah, I forgot about that, you’re quite right, though I think we should take the ‘bare below the elbows’ thing with a pinch of salt.”
“And people will see it when I’m scrubbing up and stuff.”
“You’ve also go to think about what the patients might think,” pipes up Jo, one of the medical house officers.
“To be honest, I really don’t think that patients care,” replies Andy. “It’s more what my colleagues think that worries me.”
“To be honest with you Andy,” I interject, “I know that personally, I’m far too fickle to have a tattoo, but if I wasn’t and I found one I really liked, I’d probably get it done. But it’s up to you. All I’d say is that you should decide if you want it and if you do, go for it and not worry too much about what other people think.”
Andy furrows his brow, “Hmmm… perhaps you’re right, perhaps not. Watch this space.”

I’ll be watching with interest.


Nasty Nurse said...

I'm a student nurse and i have a tattoo on my right arm of just some stars.

It's bare below elbows but a tattoo doesn't include that! In a way it's just a 'cut' or injury instead of a vector for infection.

As long as its not offensive i'll be surprised if it was an issue!!!

Caitlin said...

For that exact reasoning I got my tattoo on my foot. Although it's tiny because I am suprisingly fickle :)

Hospital Lab Tech said...

I agree to some extent that people shouldn't worry about what others think - but when you're a professional person (especially a profession that is held in high regard), it does need some consideration as people do make judgements based upon appearance. That's not just patients but future prospective employers too. (I'm sure that eventually the Equality Act will cover body art!!!)

I'd like to think I'm above that kind of thing (ha!) but to be honest, if I was the patient and Mr Surgeon had "LOVE HATE" tattoed across his knuckles, or a naked woman with enormous breasts on his forearm then I might hesitate!

So I think your friend is right to give it some thought...

rosiero said...

Personally I think tattoos are the most stupid thing to hit the fashion world. Why not put a ring or stud through your nose. Oh yes, sorry, I forgot - that's a fashion too.

I would certainly never trust a doctor with a tattoo. It would show they can't think for themselves... and following the rest of the herd.

LavanyaLea said...

i agree with hospital lab tech, we need to present ourselves well to our patients, same reason why we need to look smart/neat/tidy.

the other thing about a tattoo in the forearm is that, all that scrubbing up esp with iodine - will it not stain the tattoo and after a while the colour won't look nice anymore. i mean, to someone who scrubs about 4-5 times a day, a few days every week!

Harry said...

rosiero, wtf? professional workplace attire could also be viewed as a fashion in which case all doctors are following the "professional" herd and shouldnt be trusted because they can't think for themselves how to dress. just because someone has a tattoo / piercing doesnt mean they "can't think for themselves" and i think a lot of people who pass through medical school certainly CAN think for themselves.

as for the tat - what's he going to do for the first X days / weeks when it bleeds a bit and needs covering up etc, won't that interfere with his work, especially if it's on an arm? scrubbing in, not to mention when he meets the patient for the first time and they can see he still has an unhealed tat ...

perhaps he needs to do this on his holiday time? ;)

Dr Michael Anderson said...

Being a doctor, you come into contact with a very large number of people through your career. Inevitably, some of those people are going to be unhappy about SOME aspect of your personal appearence, no matter who you are. You can't please everybody. It's not just tatoos, some people will be unhappy with your haricut, your accent, the colour of your skin, your facial hair, the colour of your shirt, you gender, your cufflinks, the length of you skirt, how old you look, your fingernails, the list goes on and on and on. Basically it's impossible to please everybody and for that reason, I think that if you really want to do something, you should go ahead and do it (within reason of course).

To be honest, I really don't think that patients care a great deal on the whole. Generally, people's prejudices go out of the window the moment they become really unwell - they just want get better and I don't think they care if the doctor that potentially going to make them better has a tattoo on their arm or not.

The prejudices of work colleagues is a different matter though, and this is what Andy is more worried about.

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