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The DO | Patient Care | In the Field

Is the world ready for tattooed, pierced physicians?

Some friends scoffed at her intention to go to medical school. “You’ll never get in,” they predicted. Others expressed surprise: “You want to be a doctor?”

Hersh

Amanda J. Hersh, OMS III, who loves tattoos, has found acceptance of her body art at the Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Parker, Colo. (Photo courtesy of Hersh)

But Amanda J. Hersh, OMS III, who describes herself as “very heavily tattooed,” didn’t let the naysayers squelch her dream of becoming a physician. She not only was accepted into her first-choice med school, the Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine (RVUCOM) in Parker, Colo., but also is in the top 10% of her class and has been voted Student DO of the Year by students and faculty.

“During my interviews and when I first started at Rocky Vista, I covered up my tattoos because I thought there would be a stigma,” says Hersh, a Colorado native. “Then I thought, let’s throw caution to the wind and just be myself. I have never had any negative feedback on the campus. This is part of who I am.”

Her most prized tattoo, which covers her right arm from shoulder to elbow, commemorates her late fraternal twin sister, who died six years ago. “I wanted the tattoo to be beautiful like she was,” Hersh says. “We’re Irish, so the tattoo features a Claddagh symbol and shamrocks, as well as her favorite flower, daffodils.”

Fellow RVUCOM student John W. Cruz, OMS I, has a single tattoo, a silhouette of a kangaroo on his left shoulder, which his classmates and instructors see during osteopathic manipulative medicine lab.

“On our campus, there are students with tattoos that are always visible with short sleeves, and it has never been an issue,” Cruz notes. “RVUCOM does not discourage self-expression. The comfortable atmosphere is certainly part of the reason that I chose to come here.”

A survey published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology in 2006 indicated that among Americans born between 1975 and 1986, 36% have at least one tattoo, 32% have had a nontraditional body piercing and 20% have had both—a dramatic increase over previous generations. Thus, it is not surprising that many med students and young physicians have body art.

But RVUCOM may not be typical among osteopathic medical schools, several of which have dress codes that prohibit visible tattoos and nontraditional piercings. And acceptance of body art in clinical settings remains spotty, given the overwhelming conviction that patients prefer physicians who conform to the prevailing norms of professionalism. What’s more, carelessly administered tattoos and certain types of body piercings carry health risks, which adds to the body-art stigma within the medical community.

Similar to their penchant for sharing their daily lives on Facebook, the affinity for tattoos and piercings among members of Generation Y has created tension between proponents of free expression and proponents of professional conformity.

Patients first

Draion M. Burch, DO, an attending obstetrician and gynecologist in Pittsburgh, stresses that physicians should present themselves in a way that makes patients feel comfortable and respectful of their expertise and authority. He often asks medical students and residents to cover tattoos and remove piercings. “The most outrageous example I’ve seen was a medical student whose neck is tattooed with his girlfriend’s name,” Dr. Burch says. “He had to hide it under makeup. I’ve also seen a pierced belly button on a student who wore a blouse that was too short.”

“If I had tattoos and piercings and wore jeans, my patients wouldn’t take me as seriously,” says Dr. Burch, who is rarely seen without his signature bow tie. “Even patients of lower socioeconomic status want to see doctors who look professional. On the few occasions when I haven’t worn a bow tie, patients have complained. It is part of my brand.”

Dr. Burch

Draion M. Burch, DO, says that patients expect physicians to have a professional look. (Photo by Patrick Sinco)

Dr. Burch contends that patients are more apt to comply with the instructions of physicians who look professional, which leads to better health outcomes. “Your brand can also affect referrals,” he says, noting that he also dresses nicely while on personal errands in the community in case he encounters any of his patients.

When it comes to physician dress, grooming and other elements of self-expression, regional cultural differences dictate what is acceptable, observes Thomas E. McWilliams, DO, the interim dean of the A.T. Still University-School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona (ATSU-SOMA) in Mesa. He notes that when he practiced in rural Alaska, he had a bushy beard, which he shaved off upon relocating to Kirksville, Mo. “One of my patients in Missouri, a woman who had referred several other patients to me, confided that had I kept the beard, she would never have become my patient,” Dr. McWilliams remembers. As a college administrator in Arizona, he considers the closely cropped beard he currently sports to be appropriate.

Cultural norms similarly circumscribe the appropriateness of tattoos and body piercings on physicians, Dr. McWilliams says. Though increasingly common among college students and young professionals, tattoos and piercings still by and large make older patients and experienced physicians uncomfortable, he notes.

Room for flexibility

Whether strict or loose, medical school dress codes shape students’ perception of professionalism.

With a moderate policy, the Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine-Virginia Campus (VCOM-VC) in Blackburg expects first- and second-year students to wear the equivalent of business casual attire, says William P. King, the associate vice president for student services. “The dress code helps students fit in with their profession,” King says. “And the students like it because we, in turn, treat them with professionalism and respect.”

Then when VCOM-VC students go on rotations in their third and fourth year, “they adapt to the environment they’re in,” King says. Hospital training sites have their own dress codes, he points out.

ATSU-SOMA has a detailed, somewhat restrictive official dress code that soon will be undergoing re-examination, according to Dr. McWilliams. Clean athletic shoes and dress sandals are allowed. Forbidden—on paper at least—are exposed tattoos, facial piercings, T-shirts with logos, blue jeans and shorts. “The dress code is not strictly enforced, however,” Dr. McWilliams says.

Dr. McWilliams has instructed students to remove or cover body art in only a few situations. He once urged a student with a pierced eyebrow to remove the piercing before going on residency auditions. “I expressed my concerns that he might be alienating a portion of his network because of his decision,” Dr. McWilliams says, noting that residencies are competitive enough as it is.

Balancing act

While comfortable revealing her tattoos on campus, RVUCOM’s Hersh says she uses more discretion in clinical settings. “When we’re on rotation, we represent the school and we need to look professional,” she notes. “Once I put that white coat on, people look at me differently. And I do understand that patients need to feel comforted by physicians.”

Because of the lab coat’s long sleeves, patients and attending physicians typically don’t notice her tattoos, Hersh says. However, when she has needed to wear short-sleeved scrubs, on surgical rotations, reaction has been mixed. “One physician remarked, ‘You have way too many tattoos. It makes you look stupid,’ ” Hersh recalls. But most physicians and patients who learn about her tattoos are receptive, she says.

Recognized for her congeniality, leadership skills and helpfulness to other students at RVUCOM, Hersh is optimistic that she will find acceptance in her future years as a resident and practicing DO. “I’m not afraid to be myself,” she says.

cschierhorn@osteopathic.org

88 Responses

  1. Dr Tim Cloonan on Feb. 6, 2012, 2:39 p.m.

    Tat and pierced…what are you thinking!

  2. RAMCDO on Feb. 6, 2012, 2:59 p.m.

    Editor,
    My son went to see a DO PM&R Specialist who appeared behind the reception desk dressed in scrubs with tattoos showing down his arms, as my son was checking in. My son was appalled, telling the doc that he didn’t look at all professional, cancelled his appointment and walked out of the office.
    RAMCDO

  3. Loren H. "Bear" Rex, D.O. on Feb. 6, 2012, 3:02 p.m.

    Right on Girl!! 42 years ago, when I graduated from D.O. School they tried to tell me all the things I couldn’t do, apparently they are still full of shit.
    Good luck in your career aas a D.O. The best of all degrees.

    Bear

  4. Kim on Feb. 6, 2012, 3:05 p.m.

    A permanent choice you should be prepared to defend or hide, for the rest of your life. Not to my taste, and if it “defines you” – maybe you should seek deeper meaning in your life than a tattoo.

  5. Robert Fedor DO on Feb. 6, 2012, 3:10 p.m.

    Youthful expressions of individuality have occurred forever. Patients who may be elderly or who have cultural differences with body art or pierced body parts may have problems with a physician who is so adorned. People have prejudices that may interfere with good patient- doctor relationships. It may be best to conceal such body adornments in professional settings.

  6. Peter on Feb. 6, 2012, 3:56 p.m.

    Totally RAMCDO – Who cares how much experience and knowledge someone has in their field, it’s the principal of your son being a judgmental douche and whining about how somebody else looks.

  7. Shawn Marie Higgins, DO on Feb. 6, 2012, 3:56 p.m.

    Love it. You are who you are. I would have you as a doctor based on your confidence and competence… Actually, your photo is great. I love your tattoo! Rock on! Express yourself!

  8. Joshua C Ewell, OMS-III on Feb. 6, 2012, 4:08 p.m.

    I am a third year medical student and have a 3/4 sleeve on my left arm. During my scrub rotations, I haven’t had an issue with complaints and many of my patients even stated that they liked it. During my Cardiology rotation, of all people, an ICU secretary complained and I was asked to cover so as not to offend–and I happily complied. My artwork is certainly important to me and a component of my personality is expressed therein, such that understanding it’s relevance gives insight into who I am as a person. While I love my tattoo and proudly display it, I’m not angered or embittered at the thought of covering it while on most services. On the one hand, i don’t mind if my patients know about me as a person, it’s certainly not integral to their care, but on the other hand, I am the sort of person who likes to get to know my patients and relate to them. If my tattoo helps in some circumstances and hurts in others so be it, I’ll take my losses. The funny thing to me is that some of same physicians complaining about how unprofessional a tattoo appears have horrible, rude bedside manner and even speak with disdain about and to their patients, all the while afraid that they’ll be perceived as less than the perfect example of professionalism if someone were to see a hair out of place. Im not that way, I am a human treating humans, I see my patients warts, birthmarks, skin color, and even tattoos and I realize that each of those things is a part of them. I’m not ashamed or embarrassed if my personality shines through in a more visible way. To those who object that an elderly person or conservative personality might be afraid and even uncomfortable if they do see my art, I reply that I have successfully treated a great many diverse patient who cared far more about my interest in listening to them than in whether my skin had a patterned color differential on my arm. If I can serve my function better with my tattoo covered than so be it, but I reject the notion that uniformity is the functional definition of professionalism and that our individuality must be stifled to best serve our patients. At the very worst, perhaps our patients will be self-selecting, which is equally true for any physician. In response to the complaint above that someone stormed out of their doctors office because he had tattoos, if prejudice causes you to seek medical care elsewhere by all means, find another doctor. For me, I’m far more interested in my doctors compassionate and competent care of my medical issues than if she or he has tattoos or piercings. And for what it’s worth, I make every effort to be the best damn student doctor I can from my knowledge base to my bedside manner and personal interest in my patients–that is what matters most to me.

  9. Corinne, RVUCOM student on Feb. 6, 2012, 4:13 p.m.

    First impression of Amanda Hersh: confident. Second, capable. Third, brilliant. Fourth, kind beyond words. When did I notice the tattoos? Probably somewhere between impression 9 and 10. Though I may not ever have a tattoo of my own, I can promise that my perception of a physician will always be based on the content of their character….and I hope that patients will always be able to judge me based on the same.

  10. OMS-II on Feb. 6, 2012, 5:35 p.m.

    I agree 100% with Corine ^^^. Standing by your prejudices and assuming that because someone has a tattoo they are incompetent and inferior as a doctor (or anything for that matter)is like assuming someone is stupid because they have blonde hair. It’s simply ridiculous and ignorant. Never be afraid to be proud of who you are. Great article Amanda!

  11. OMS-I on Feb. 6, 2012, 6:07 p.m.

    Totally agree with Corine in regards to Amanda! I also agree with you ^^^OMS-II. I used to be one to judge others with tattoos as inferior, stupid, or unprofessional….that is until I met my husband. My husband has a full sleeve of tattoos on one arm and he is a Navy vet, Eagle Scout, and graduated with Philosophy and Environmental degrees. One reason he loves having them? He can quickly rule out people that judge him based on how he looks. Great article!

  12. Ian on Feb. 6, 2012, 7:23 p.m.

    Unfortunately there are many times in medicine where the distraction of a visible body art might not only hinder the doctor/pt relationship, it may actually harm it.

    In psychiatry we constantly worry about transference. Your want to express yourself is wonderful, but if it’s visible, you’d be a less efficient therapist.

    Does that mean the pt is unreasonable, judgemental, or any of the other epithets being thrown around? Perhaps. But they are also mentally ill. Either way, the million dollar question is: are you willing to threaten your therapeutic relationship with patients simply to express yourself through these medias?

    This doesn’t pertain just to psychaitry. How many of you non-psychiatrists have had to act as shrinks and deal with the mentally ill?

    Why not, as others have mentioned, try a compromise, such getting ‘art’ in areas that are easy to hide (back, legs)? Think of how much body area we cover with clothes: it’s a lot!

    Go crazy, just be responsible and don’t limit your future options in the pursuit of art.

  13. Peter Jameson D.O. on Feb. 6, 2012, 7:45 p.m.

    My colleage sitting next to me told abou this discussion and I can’t believe what I am reading.

    You know what I did to express myself before medical school? I protested against the Vietnam War and marched on Washington for equal rights for blacks (I am an old white fart). And what does your generation do? Get “tats” customize your iphones and pierce your labias. Give me a break

    Let me give you another example of how life is unfair.

    Ties are stupid. Think about it. Why does putting cloth in bow around your neck make you look fancy?

    The reason is cultural norms. Ties are in, and if you want to get a job and you’re a male, you wear one on interviews. That’s the way it is. You want to express yourself by wearing one of Warhol’s creations on your chest? Go ahead. But youd be the laughing stock, and that’s just the way it is kiddos.

    Should we rebel against ties? Of all the things that are wrong in the world today should that be the thing you put effort into?

    How about when a loved one dies you dontate money to a charity. How much does a full color piece of art like that cost?

    Go ahead and whine. It won’t do a goddaman thing. I won’t hire you and I won’t refer to you if I see something I and my patients see as unprofessional.

  14. Dr. T on Feb. 6, 2012, 8:06 p.m.

    I appreciate this article being published because it reminded me that passing judgement based soley on appearance isn’t the way to practice medicine, much less live. Tattoos and piercings are certainly a thing of the now but I, and my colleagues, can appreciate Amanda and others like her that have maintained themselves in a world that critiques purely on the negatives or the” I would never do such a thing.” That’s fine and well but you might have read past the fact this girl is in the top 10% of her class! Would you have known that just by skimming or judging? Reading what my peers have stated is devastating because I can only fathom how judging they are of their patients! We are supposed to be a medical community, not pinned against each other! So what if everyone doesn’t wear a bow tie or shave their beards because that doesn’t make someone any less competent to practice good and caring medicine! Amanda, thank you for reinspiring me to be a little more open and human. It seems like you have touched the lives of many!

  15. KM9724 on Feb. 6, 2012, 8:15 p.m.

    It’s ironic that someone who purports to have been so open minded to march for equal rights because of the plights of African-Americans and protest the Vietnam war, can be so myopic on something as silly as tattoos and piercings in the medical field.

    What makes you think anyone who isn’t “an old white fart” would want to work for you? That’s laughable at best.

    I notice you didn’t try to convince us of your well roundedness by actively participating in equal rights for women, which is a bit telling. I would be willing to bet you don’t believe women should be doctors, or any other “traditional” male professions.

    Just because the culture of your time revolved around the Vietnam war and the Civil
    rights movement, doesn’t mean we are required to endure the same types of unrest.
    Get over yourself, you are the type of doctor that make most people dislike doctors.

  16. Christopher Jessie Richardson DO, FACOS on Feb. 6, 2012, 8:35 p.m.

    When I started NYCOM in 1994 I had 1 tattoo and 4 ear piercings. I now have 2 tattoos and 12 ear piercings. I have had a bald head, an Afro and braids as a medical student. Then a bald head, an Afro, cornrows, to dreadlocks to the small of my back as a resident and an attending. I am bald again by my choice! Patients, physicians and administrators will respect you for your intellect and compassion! I have been in practice for almost years as an employed physician in

  17. Christopher Jessie Richardson DO, FACOS on Feb. 6, 2012, 8:37 p.m.

    A 500 plus bed hospital in conservative western New York.

  18. Mary Cerni DO on Feb. 6, 2012, 10:08 p.m.

    I’ve been in practice for 25 years. I try to keep a low profile to minimize distraction for the patient. Anything out of the ordinary invites attention and commentary. Even a bright lip color, or a large piece of jewelry can distract the patient from their mission, and yours, which is to get the patient to tell you the problem so you can fix it and move on. This is not about self-expression. This is about doing your job with minimal distraction. All the chit chat costs time and money. When you are young, all this stuff means much more. In the end, you want to get out of the office so you can relax and freely flaunt your tattoos, nose rings, big bling or whatever. The office is not the place for this. It is the place to be Plain Jane or Plain John. The patient is the centerpiece.

  19. Jason on Feb. 6, 2012, 11:26 p.m.

    Ms. Hersh is ‘a very brave person’.

  20. Jon Seizden on Feb. 6, 2012, 11:39 p.m.

    Tattoos, piercings, and radical fashion statements distract patients and focus attention on the wrong elements. This is not to mean that people that have tattoos and piercings are bad but there has to come a point where one has to ask themselves “Is my patient going to take me seriously?” (trust me, if you’re walking around like a hippie lost in a hospital – they’re not). It’s hard enough for osteopathic physicians to gain positive publicity, let’s not make it easier for the public to misconstrue us.

  21. michael on Feb. 7, 2012, 7:30 a.m.

    I view this as one more sign of the demise of medicine as a profession.
    Patients expect to see a physician who respects the human body and presents him/her selves with an air of dignity, respect, and kindness. This is the true heritage of medicine, and it is obviously being lost.

  22. Kels on Feb. 7, 2012, 3:48 p.m.

    Honestly, I would feel enormously comfortable going to a physician with tattoos and/or piercings. A) Instant conversation started and B) the body art lends itself to the idea that this is a real live person who’s taking care of me. I’ve been to too many ‘old fart white guy(and gal)’ doctors who seemingly had no interest in me beyond my symptoms, and make it very hard to trust them.

    And all this nonsense about cultural norms, etc? Oh please, let it go. Understand that body art IS a cultural norm. Just another whiny declaration from the middle-aged couch warriors sandwiched between the dynamic culture of their own parents and their discomfort with the advances of the young.

  23. psydoc on Feb. 7, 2012, 3:56 p.m.

    Tattoos and piercings are no different from the bowtie you wear, your haircut, that expensive pair of shoes, or your classic gold earrings… these are all merely physical adornments.
    When all you baby boomers are retired and depend on us Gen Y’s for your health care, I’m sure you won’t have a thing to say about our appearances…

  24. Daedra on Feb. 7, 2012, 4:11 p.m.

    I think there’s a simple solution for people who don’t like a doctor with tattoos – don’t see that doctor. There are plenty of people who don’t have a problem with it, and even see it as an admirable statement of individuality. I for one would be more comfortable with a down-to-earth tattooed doc than an aloof doc dressed in a suit. Then again, I’m a millenial. I find the highly conservative appearance-related expectations of the medical profession to be somewhat silly. If a professional is clean and wearing well-kept clothes, that’s good enough for me.

  25. BG32 on Feb. 7, 2012, 4:16 p.m.

    I receive these online bits because my husband is a late D.O. this article caused me to do a double take because I have had the tremendous joy of having Amanda as a student doctor when I was hospitalized. I never knew she had tattoos or piercings and, honestly, it doesn’t matter to me now. That girl was so compassionate, caring, and wonderful to my family and I. We always made comments about the beautiful well dressed student who always smiled and listened. She is a rare find and she will certainly go very far in her career. If you fear a relationship cannot be established with someone permanently covered in artwork is not possible or if they should not be allowed to be doctors then you have never met Amanda because that girl will prove you wrong everytime. I choose to remain anonymous but, Amanda, if you’re reading this I want to thank you for sneaking in after hours to listen to my stories or to give the best hugs ever when I cried.

  26. William Franklin, DO on Feb. 7, 2012, 4:27 p.m.

    I’m 44. I have tats. Mine are well hidden in professional setting, and the one on my lateral calf if well known to my cycling buddies. Tattoos are very personal, but when left to other people to interpret who don’t know you…well, that just leaves the interpretation up to the interpreter. Unfortunately, but a fact we have to deal with. My advice: if you don’t have tattoos, only get some you can hide under scrubs. If its too late, be ready to wear ‘em proudly. I have no problem with tats, and I think a DO after someones name impresses the heck out of me that I’m seeing a person who may just look at things with less of a pre-conceived notion, and that this might just translate into how diligently they seek truth beyond that which is easily arrived at through judgement. Not a bad quality in a doctor at all. BTW…I got my first tat when I was 35, and I never got a tat that I didn’t spend a LONG time thinking about before I got it.

  27. Rey on Feb. 7, 2012, 4:46 p.m.

    Questions for all of the doctors who are totally against the tatoos and piercings: What do you think of your patients who have tatoos and piercings? Do you actually care about their health and well being? How much time and energy do you actually give to listening and responding to their actual health needs? You may “look” professional but your patients can see right through you.

  28. Stephanie on Feb. 7, 2012, 5:47 p.m.

    For all who are moaning about professionals with tatts. I have had Dr’s with them and with out. those untra professional Dr’s who didn’t have them, yeah they looked very professional. But a good majority of them lacked skmething that many of the tattooed doctors had. A HEART!!!!! I will take a pierced tattooed doctor over a pristine , pure, bow tie wearing doctor who has the bedside manner of a narcissistic jackass any day of the week. I spent several years by you “perfect professional” doctors that all the symptoms I was presenting with was all in my head. I was just depressed. I needed a hobby. I was a attention seeker and needed to see a psychiatrist. Well guess what , you bunch of freaking donkeys! That psychiatrist I saw told me that I was having REAL symptoms and sent me a friend of his who is a PCP. He then told me he suspected I had a autoimmune disease and sent me to a Rheumatologist. Those symptoms I was making up turned out to be a very serious disease called lupus. I’m not a fan of most dr’s now. The majority of you all seem to have the God complex. But again, the kindest ones I’ve had in the last several years have had tattooes and etc. tattooes I can handle. Heartless a-holes, that’s far more unprofessional in my book.
    Sorry, I tend to get pissy when it comes to the subject of physicians. I think all those dr’s who took my money, didn’t run a single test , and sent me on my way, should have to refund every dime they ever took from me.
    If I lived near Dr.Hersh, I would be glad to have her as my doctor.

  29. Will L on Feb. 8, 2012, 12:48 a.m.

    I know I wouldn’t want anyone with a sleeve tattoo taking care of me and I come from a family of doctors..if you are really that good then get a tattoo of your MCAT score and then I might be willing to overlook it…anything else is like can I get a 2nd opinion…

    Signed,
    Vascular Surgeon’s Son

  30. michael on Feb. 8, 2012, 8:25 a.m.

    This is clearly a hot button issue, not just for D.O.’s, but for the entire medical profession.
    My hospital has dress and behavior codes for all employees, which includes coverage of all tatoos and no piercings other than simple earrings. The code does not apply to physicians, but physicians are expected to be exemplary in their behavior and dress.
    The very basis of medicine is respect for the human body and respect for one’s fellow man. Let this be the beginning of the the dialogue, not some of the stupid arguements that are being presented.
    Personally, I see tatoos and piercings as nothing more than “Hey, look at me! Aren’t I cool!” And the older the patients get, the more stupid these things appear.
    So in my opinion, it is time for the osteopathic profession to take a position.

  31. Dave Hamilton on Feb. 8, 2012, 12:58 p.m.

    I love how we doctors or doctors to be are so split on this issue. What really does it matter? Dr. Jameson, you have a very strong opinion of the topic. Even making snide remarks of how someone should take that money they may have used to get a tattoo (to memorialize someone who meant a lot to that individual)…and donate that money to a charity. Well the same could be said for many of the countless unimportant things we buy everyday, from that coffee at Starbucks to that deluxe version of a fancy car. We all could choose to live more simply and give the extra to further help folks in need. Many of us do, but not everything. So why should someone’s choice to spend money on a personal decision be ostracized? Should we deny someone who is perfectly capable from being a physician because they made a choice to get a tattoo or a piercing before deciding to go to medical school or for that matter deny referrals when they become a doctor?

    From what it sounds like those individuals with tattoos or piercings know when it is appropriate to hide them and when they can wear them with pride. There is always going to be someone who doesn’t like something about a person, whether it be the length of their hair, having or not having facial hair, wearing a crazy tie, or if they where navy blue and black…and can these things be distracting for creating a patient doctor relationship…perhaps. What we should be concerned with is giving the best care possible and show our humanity to our patients…that’s where trust is built not what shoes, tie or tattoo we may dawn.

  32. George W. on Feb. 8, 2012, 6:47 p.m.

    I agree with half the people on here. I don’t think the ladies should have tattoos. Or be doctors either. I especially agree with the doctor’s son. I can appreciate your coattail riding. Strong work!

  33. robert migliorino,d.o. on Feb. 9, 2012, 12:45 a.m.

    Ink is good in one respect…..the Derms are kept busy in erasure procedures

  34. PedsDO on Feb. 9, 2012, 11:33 a.m.

    When I started med school almost 15 years ago, I was the only female in the class with a tattoo and and the only person with a facial piercing. The piercing has been long gone. I still love my tattoo but I don’t care what others have to say about it so that is WHY I never bother to show it. It is an individual expression of who I am nd therefore I don’t need to make it public. Having children changed my perspective on a lot of things about life in general. I would not care what way my kids, or any other person adorns themselves. But being a doctor is not about YOU! It’s about taking care of others. And the business side of medicine is unfortunately another aspect to consider. I only have 15 minutes to make you feel comfortable with me, trust me, confide in me, lete exonerate your potentially acreing child, treat them and council the family. I don’t have time to talk to each
    family about my tattoo. I didn’t have time to talk about my pregnancies, my new house, what kind of car I chose to drive or any other number of personal choices I have made over the years. It’s ALL about the patient!

  35. A.T. Still on Feb. 9, 2012, 8:26 p.m.

    The osteopathic profession is not a biker gang!

  36. William Franklin, DO on Feb. 11, 2012, 11:17 a.m.

    Extremely well put, PedsDO.

  37. LGSJ on Feb. 11, 2012, 1:38 p.m.

    I’m a pre-med in the process of applying to osteopathic medical school. I have to say reading this article has encouraged me greatly due to the fact that I am also covered in tattoos. When making my decisions to do so I didn’t think that I would be involved in medicine, much less a physician. However, reading the comments from certain D.O.’s I pray that our paths never cross and that by the time I graduate you would have already retired. We’re not perfect people, we’re flawed humans you happen to have the ability to critically think and retain a great deal of information. I’m a 35 yr old Naval cryptologist and combat search and rescue swimmer veteran who absolutely loves to serve others. Indeed it is about the patient but I too have a life. I concure with a fellow commentator in that those who believe for us to be stupid, naive, and foolish are probably the ones who have no true genuiness at the bedside. By the way if you have not retired by then, don’t be surprised if your patient volume decreased due to a new D.O. in town known for his work ethic, competence, and compassion, who also happens to have tattoos. All in love, God bless!

  38. Chris on Feb. 11, 2012, 8:15 p.m.

    I know her in person. The picture of her does her no justice whatsoever! The girl’s got beauty, brains, and drive. Also, I wish there would have been a second article detailing her story because if you knew it you would be shocked Amanda is still smiling and striving to give her all to others. Everyone else has their own story too and personal choices are, well, personal. I don’t know if you noticed the last paragraph but there is discretion in the clinical setting. I wish everyone that feels terrified of becoming a physician because they are unique in their own way the best of luck and to shake your fear! For those who have nothing but negative comments to make I hope you will eventually find happiness in your lives so that you do not attempt to break down other people especially your patients.

  39. Cdepot18 on Feb. 13, 2012, 11:44 a.m.

    I am heavily tattooed and don’t have issues if someone does or doesn’t have any. Everyone has their own opinions and freedom to express themselves in the way they choose :) I am not a judgemental person and don’t like to be judged myslef, and feel as though tattooed people are judged too quickly. It doesnt matter what your profession is, it’s what’s on the inside that counts not whats on the outside. I personally would like a doctor WITH tattoos!

  40. BT on Feb. 20, 2012, 6:39 p.m.

    If your interested in looking into a residency in Michigan, contact me and we’ll talk.

  41. AJH on Feb. 21, 2012, 1:52 a.m.

    BT – funny you should mention Michigan because that is my first choice location for an IM residency to later get into ID. Detroit is where it is at so I am told! How should I get in touch with you? – Amanda

  42. BT on Feb. 21, 2012, 8 p.m.

    Email is easiest brian.tweddle@pohmedical.org

  43. Tia on Feb. 24, 2012, 8:20 p.m.

    It truly saddens me that people get so charged and judgmental when it comes to this topic. I don’t judge you for not having tattoos. Nor do I judge you based on your hairstyles that makes you look ridiculous, your dress that makes you lack much attention to detail and style, your car that often is shown to overcompensate to boost your self worth, your cologne, etc. I would send my friends, family, and patients to someone who was able to show empathy, who had good bedside manner and who was good at what they did. If you’re a good doctor but you’re unable to get passed your own biases with your colleagues, why would you treat your patients any different? If we all took a couple of steps back and looked at ourselves in the mirror, perhaps we wouldn’t be quite so judgmental.
    “One ought to examine himself for a very long time before thinking of codemning others.” Moniere – playwright.

    It is the holistic approach that makes the osteopathic profession so special. Instead of focusing on one aspect of someone’s appearance perhaps we should look at the whole person and their character.

    Congratulations on staying true to yourself regardless of what that may mean – your choice to tattoo or not. Unfortunately while you are a student, intern, and resident you have to listen to some of the ignorance that passes down the chain of command. However, once you’re an attending you can better self-select your colleagues and work settings . . . and have more money to afford your self expression, whatever that may be. Keep true to yourself and you’ll go much further than those who spend their time codemning you based on the ink on your skin.

  44. DrD on Feb. 28, 2012, 7:34 a.m.

    The Human Factor is supreme. The doctor patient relationship remains the most powerful medicine still. Sharing with our patients beyond disease treatment is what has always set our Osteopathic profession apart. Whatever your personal expression style is, let it shine and stand behind it with competence, concern, care and capability. Your character determines your success with patients and families…this we call a “bed side manner”. A tattoo can be a personal fashion statement or a personal expression of what you hold dear, this can be a welcomed element by patients. Poor grooming and awkward clothing can create visual dissonance for some people. It is easy to judge the patient in the story who walked out before ever meeting the doctor, but the visual projection did not work for that person and it won’t work for everyone–yet. We define our profession. We are the future. Strength in character and competency trumps all visual surface elements of a doctor’s total effectiveness. But remember, the label on the package still draws the consumer’s eyes first…everything else follows. Be careful with your branding…literally.

  45. Mr. Heinz on March 1, 2012, 12:34 a.m.

    “Sharing with our patients beyond disease treatment is what has always set our Osteopathic profession apart.”

    … and also a lower MCAT/GPA combo.

  46. Dr. Dick on March 8, 2012, 1:28 a.m.

    I am a heavily tattoed doctor with face tattoos and body art covering my arms and hands. I treat patients every day and I haven’t ever had one be scared or walk out on me. Other physicians look at me and make harsh comments but all I do is just give them a hard time about their appearance and I tell them how awesome my life is. Most other physicians suck and I don’t mind what they think because I make more money than all the other physicians I know.

  47. Maj on March 14, 2012, 3:21 p.m.

    I’m in nursing school, I have a few tattoos that can be seen, I do have to cover them up at school and at clinical settings. I have been told that I would never get a job as a nurse. All I have to say is the world needs to open their minds, just because I have tattoos doesn’t make me stupid. Don’t be so uptight people. It’s just art, and a way to express yourself. Don’t judge people for how they look, judge them for their knowledge in their careers.

  48. Eric on March 25, 2012, 9:59 p.m.

    My 2nd daughter was born with a severe colon disorder. The doctor said I looked like I was in construction so I should understand wiring. So basically, once you have MD after your name you can judge someone on their appearance. I have no tats or piercings. Not even a beer gut. Yet he had me pegged a construction worker. All of you whiny tattooed doctors like Dr. Dick need to grow up and pray for patients less judgemental than yourselves. My oldest daughter just got a tattoo on the inside of her wrist and intends to go to med school. I think she was foolish getting a tattoo in a visible place. People are always judged on their appearance. Right or wrong, it’s a fact. Just know the elaborate and colorful tattoo on your twentysomething year old skin may look great now, but let’s see it 20 years from now.

  49. nurse R. on April 9, 2012, 5:35 p.m.

    I was directed to this discussion by a friend and I have read all the comments. I was impressed by Joshua Ewell’s thoughts and I agree completely with his opinion on “to cover or not to cover” . I am a nurse with a full sleeve and I think it is beautiful. It is a choice that I made for me… just like my tennis shoes, my earrings and my nail polish. People make choices all the time that I find ridiculous …. purple hair color,fake orange tans,clothing meant for teenagers worn by grown women, men with carpets on their heads trying to pass it off as hair….. but I would never have the audacity to judge someone based on the surface. To those that say a health care provider having a tattoo is a “distraction” ….. what about an overwhelmingly attractive woman? I work with a doctor that is so gorgeous, men literally go speechless around her. Is that not a distraction or is it a distraction you are willing to tolerate? I know doctors that abuse alcohol,take drugs, cheat on their taxes, cheat on their wives …… and these are the people that judge others the most.
    To Dr Jameson that protested the war and marched for equal rights, I am sorry you are not that guy anymore …. he was probably a pretty cool cat.

  50. Sunny on April 10, 2012, 10:33 a.m.

    While I don’t sport any tattoo’s some of my colleagues do. They’ve never had a problem. In a cosmopolitan society like the one we live in today, I think most of our patients are accepting of the fact that people don’t come in those neatly packaged stereotypical images from yesteryear.

  51. Michael, OMS II on April 16, 2012, 11:40 p.m.

    Haters gonna hate!

    Dr Amanda Jo is a personal friend of mine, and might be the best person I’ve ever known. Top of the class, friendliest in the class. Always helping the underclassmen following her footsteps. We admire her as a person and future physician.

    You judgmental types are missing out, excluding a wide spectrum of society like that. Enjoy surrounding yourselves with people just as plain as you. Should be stimulating… NOT!

  52. trishia on April 17, 2012, 2:34 a.m.

    I’ve known Amanda since high-school and agree with every single commenter above who knows her personally. I recall Amanda from our school years together as being a strong, gorgeous, kind hearted, intelligent friend. Her ability to stay calm in the midst of pain, her maturity and respect for all others, and her drive to grow beyond expectations is inspirational. For those of you judging her and others with tattoos, perhaps it would help if you remembered that humans are unique creatures, and that only when we learn to find connections rather than differences will we ever truly be able to live fully and with purpose. A tattoo is a personal statement, but it is not The defining statement of who a person is or what they are capable of.

    Regarding the other doctor in the article and his position of medical professionals being held in a different light than patients, I have this to add:
    I am currently working towards becoming a CNM/WHNP. One issue in obgyn is that of establishing a culture of trust between healthcare providers and patients. I’d like to think that the desire to cultivate trust extends into all healthcare professions. (and no, feelings of inferiority do not equal trust) Maybe if we let go of the idea that all primary providers should be cold, authoritarian figures, we would find that our patients could feel more relaxed and at ease with us. Who would you rather talk to about your fears of surgery or your embarrassing questions about something as personal as sex? The jerk that can’t even look up from his tablet or the Dr/NP/PA that obviously cares and seems like a real person? How many pregnancy complications could have been caught earlier if the patient felt more comfortable with their provider? How many minor issues turned into serious problems because a patient didn’t feel they could talk to their provider frankly? How many patients don’t receive the full benefits of patient education because they view their provider as an authority figure with better things to spend time on than answering one more question. I’d imagine these issues apply to all patients, regardless of the specialty area. Just something for you Dr=God believers to ponder.

  53. Uncle Fuzzy on April 17, 2012, 2:13 p.m.

    Middy, Pay very close attention to the comments of “BG32″. She defines the character and compassion you have in your administration of health care. As a doc myself, the greatest reward I receive in patient care is the gratitude shown to me through hugs and tears from my patients for my love and care for them. It is these rewards that encourage me to continue to be the very best caregiver for them that I can be! This is about treating patients as if they are family and NOT about how you look! I, honestly, have an advantage over every responder on this page because you are my niece and I know the kind, caring, compassionate, and loving person you are! Carpe Dium!

  54. Jay on April 18, 2012, 8:18 a.m.

    I plan on attending and completing medical school myself and I, currently, have a full sleeve on my left arm, including the top of my hand and both knuckle segments on every finger except my thumb. I also have my right shoulder done and the right side of my neck and am starting work on my right sleeve very soon. I feel that tattoos are such a commonplace among young adults these days that, although it shouldn’t be a factor of discrimination, unfortunately, it still is and I think that is something that will only be changed as more and more tattooed people enter in these fields. I haven’t personally dealt with any of these discriminations yet, but I also won’t let the fear of being discriminated against effect my decision to get anymore tattoos. However, I do think that if any of a person’s tattoos are offensive (e.g. swastikas, vulgar language), that is a different story, but I don’t see the problem with non-offensive tattoos. Oh, I guess I should also mention that I also have 2 lip-rings on the bottom left side of my lip, side-by-side, they are 2 little gem studs and I also have my earlobes gauged out to 7/16″, but that is a whollleeeeee other topic.
    I just think people should be judged by their knowledge and not by how they look, but lets face it, we are only human and first impressions always leave a lasting impact. There isn’t one person that can honestly tell me they haven’t immediately formed an opinion of someone based solely on their first impression that, whether disproved or not, was tough to get rid of. Just my 2¢ and I would love to hear what people think.

  55. robert migliorino,d.o. on April 20, 2012, 6:45 p.m.

    Evidently these people are not working in areas that are rural,conservative in thought,or clannish by nature.But then ,in a city they might be mistaken for members of EME,Triads,Shower Posse,White Fence,or Netas.

  56. professor plum on April 22, 2012, 2:15 a.m.

    There are so many ridiculous and ostracizing comment from ignorant doctors and people om here in general. Dr. Migliorino, it seems to me that you amange to live your life on this online magazine and try to import your “oh so important” opinions and statements on here that are neither warranted and welcome. If it makes you feel better about your abhorant self or helps you sleep better at night, well, good for you. It is those with extreme low self confidence and probably subpar practice that would ever have such lame declerations to always add to other’s spotlights. Perhaps you can get your own article one day…but you would have to do something significant for that. Good luck, as I am sure you will need it.

    Vascular sugrgeons son, please let me give you some knowledge. After entering medical school, board score are so much more impressive than MCAT scores. Then again, you were pribably ignorant of this information. So, thank you for allowing a learning experience.

    Michael, I surmise you haven’t had an adequate history of English. I f you choose to attempt to bellittle or ‘rally’ others to take a stand perhaps it would do you better if you actually spoke proper English, or actually knew how to spell. Then again, it appears that you do not even find yourself significant. Why? Because you even lack the ability to spell your name in uppercase. Well done!

    Regardless of the plethora of comments on here it appears that there are those that recognize that osteopathy encompasses seeing a patient, or any other person, as not just a walking disease, but a unique individual whose life is taken into account in all aspects, not just appearance. It is shameful that individuals who purport to be D.O’s feel the need to outburst on the decisions of others. Afterall, I am Professor Plum, and go beyond the candlestick, the kitchen, and Colonel Mustard. Truly, isn’t it best to conduct yourself as a professional? Do you realize that by divulging your name on here your current or future patients may ponder how you view them and treat your colleagues? I sincerely hope that you know that you are damaging your future career as this is written.

    For my final remark, although I do not know SD Hersh, there seems to be an uprising against her appearance but I surmise you are potentially tinged with envy for her success in medical school by being in the top/10%

  57. professor plum on April 22, 2012, 2:25 a.m.

    Also, she has had a plethora of accolades that many of you may never have. When I visit a physician, I anticipate someone that is human, knowledgeable, and actually cares about the reason I visited the office. Physicians such as these are few and far between. So, instead of criticizing and attempting to make harsh remarks against your future colleagues maybe you can realize that potential and amazing future physicians are on the forefront and you could learn so much from them just as it might fuel your ego they desire to learn from you.

    Beyond this, I would like to commend SD Hersh for showing some class and not responding to remarks on here. That is a sign of class and character. To be the face of this article took courage, I am sure. This could be another lesson that is noteworthy as she chooses not to be responsive to harsh and ridiculous comments for her future peers while you, already in practice and well established physicians have the audacity to say such things and leave your name in entirety. Perhaps you should seek a deeper meaning in life before your patients become aware of what you “really have to say.”

  58. professor plum on April 22, 2012, 2:43 a.m.

    Finally, I am writing this in haste as there have been a flood of thoughts. I, myself, have made some gramatical errors from my typing fury. This I guarantee, I am more than capable of grammar and getting my point across for I am educated and informed. My apologies for the minor errors I made as this is a subject that neither defines osteopathy or the future physicians we will be graced with.

  59. John on April 24, 2012, 3:20 p.m.

    These opinions about looking ‘professional,’ are hypocritical while all these people, including those in the medical industry, are walking around with died hair, pierced ears, makeup on their faces and all kinds of other modifications ranging from breast implants to reconstructive nose surgery.
    ‘Professionalism,’ should be defined by your demeanor with your patients, not the presence of some art on your skin.

  60. John on April 24, 2012, 3:23 p.m.

    Dyed hair*
    Please excuse the typo.

  61. Valerie on April 24, 2012, 3:26 p.m.

    People with tattoos and piercings actually have to take extra measures to make sure they’re clean and free of anything that can cause infection. They’re not “dirty” or something. What matters is their level of training, not what they do with their bodies.

  62. robert migliorino,d.o. on May 1, 2012, 9:30 p.m.

    Well plum,if that is your name,if I want to express myself in this forum,I can do so.At least my name is there for all to see. So leave the personalities out of it.I am surprised that you are able to discern an indiidual’s persona based on a few written words on a small forum board.You must be extraordinary or a “progressive”.

  63. michael on July 13, 2012, 7:28 p.m.

    plum is an idiot!

  64. Sue Williams on July 15, 2012, 1:26 p.m.

    You go Dr.Amanda Hersh!!! I would rather see someone “dr.” with tats figuring you might be more human and kind than some of the other stuffy dr.’s. I say “good for you! And I hope you have a great career.”

  65. PacificNWDoc, MD on Aug. 4, 2012, 11:54 p.m.

    I am a family physician and teaching faculty at a Pacific NW residency program, age 40ish (for background reference). I have considered, for many years, getting a tattoo on my shoulder as a form of self expression (but that is coverable with long sleeve shirts, or possibly even short sleeve shirts). I personally have no problems with body art (tattoos or piercings) if they are tastefully done. I also do not have a problem with resident interviewees with the same.

    To the psychiatrisy who posted, “In psychiatry we constantly worry about transference. Your want to express yourself is wonderful, but if it’s visible, you’d be a less efficient therapist.” I agree that transference is definitely an issue, whether in psychiatry or in primary care. However, I don’t think that tattoos or piercings necessarily lead to being less efficient (or to being problematic) – there are patients who would be more comfortable, and therefore more willing to dialogue. There are other patients where the reverse would be true.

    To Peter Jameson D.O. (poster above)–

    If you were interviewing as a colleague, I would admire your zeal and idealism in protesting the Vietnam war and marching in Washington. I would also be appalled by many of your statements, especially “Go ahead and whine. It won’t do a goddaman thing. I won’t hire you and I won’t refer to you if I see something I and my patients see as unprofessional.” Your disrespect for your colleagues concerns me far more than someone’s tattoos. If your comments are reflective of how you perceive your fellow physicians (or patients), I would also refuse to hire you, refer to you, or recommend you to anyone.

    To everyone who looks down upon tattoos/piercings/whatever and intends to practice medicine – I would suggest a quote from John Maxwell – “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” If you judge your colleagues, how do you truly care for your patients? I, for one, am sick and tired of dealing with other physicians who are rude, arrogant, or judgemental. I know of a very competent specialist who has literally driven away over 50% of my referrals due to his arrogance (my patients tell me that they refuse to see him regardless of their health after their first visit with him). Fortunately, I now have other options so I never refer anyone to him anymore.

    To those medical students who do have tattoos or piercings, there is at least 1 program in the Pacific Northwest who would not judge you based on that. Here’s hoping that all of you find a great residency that can help you to be doctors and healers while supporting you for the next stage of your lives. As for the lady mentioned in the article, I wish you the very best.

  66. TBI doc on Aug. 12, 2012, 3:08 a.m.

    I have to agree with most points Plumb made. I haven’t found anything he said disagreeable , etc. In fact he made most of the points I wanted to make. Just allow this for consideration : I am short, bald, walk with a cane. Obviously I am judged by some people. Some automatically like me or dislike me, most don’t care until I see them and talk to them. Then I usually have good connection with my patients. Ink or no, I truly don’t care. I actually find it rather amusing that this is even a topic. How about we talk about something that matters… If we are to talk about establishing relationships with patients and referring docs, lets talk about that, since most of the negatives seem to be about that type of situation. We could even get some articles on here about professional development in bedside manner, cultural sensitivity and the art of medicine as business . The only time I care about someone’s tattoo is if I find it interesting, or medically important for one reason or another.
    Seriously – we brand ourselves all the time, with how we speak, how we dress and how we carry ourselves. If you don’t like me because of my appearance then perhaps you need another doc, and I will just go on down my list of waiting patients. If you are my boss/ trying to hire me, how about you look at my CV and professional references. Oh, and as for second opinions – please get one or two. I welcome other physician or nurse/np/pa input. Whats life without someone to possibly show you another way to look at something. Dr. Hersh – good job at doing well in school. ‘Nuff said.

  67. TBI doc on Aug. 12, 2012, 3:09 a.m.

    * Sorry, Plum not Plumb

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  70. David B on Jan. 5, 2013, 10 a.m.

    A bit late to contribute in this debate, but it is so interesting I’ll give it a go anyway.

    How come people of different cultures all over the world have been interested in getting body art, even before any globalization ? There seems to be something in our genetics that makes us interested in body art, beyond just local habits or cultural rules. As a 10 year old I started getting interest in piercings, without there being any ‘reason’ for that : no rebellion (I have very tolerant parents), no ‘following trends’ (there was no trend at that time for body art, certainly not for boys aged 10). But I was aware of a certain ‘disapproval’ by society, so it took me 3 more years before I got my first piercing. I did create more problems with it then necessary (bending school rules, having to defend myself against old-school aunts, …). But still I went through with it because I had this difficult to suppress interest. No don’t think I was interested in other ‘fun’ things just because of social pressure : absolutely not.

    Gradually I got more into the piercing comment, and there are of course those who go for a piercing as a ‘punk statement’, or because of group pressure. But I also encountered plenty of others who just did it out of interest and esthetical preference.

    When starting medical school I never thought of ‘leaving out’ my single visible earring (mildly stretched to 3mm). In the first year I was the only guy with a visible piercing in med school, in the third year I got a colleague who transferred from a different school with a minuscule stud. Yes, we did stand out a bit, and we did get remarks from teaching staff. Some did it in private, expressing concern what ‘others’ would think (they of course stated that they themselves had no problem with it personally). Others even challenged us in public during a lecture. But this was before they knew me : a hard working student, with excellent results, otherwise clean and ‘modestly’ dressed. If you’ve been in a course with professors all year long, it would be bizarre to remove the earring for oral exams. So I didn’t. I have to admit it did take some courage, certainly during my first year.

    Maybe I have to ad a detail here : my medical training was at a top school in Europe, but within a system that is less ‘competitive’ then some US programs I know. And a second detail : at this school there was virtually no patient contact during the first 3 years of the 7 (!) year training.

    So when the 4th year came, I was asked by some senior physicians to remove my ear tunnel, which I did for each medical round or any other occasion where patients were involved. I started doing so out of habit, even when no longer specifically instructed to do so. I guess I’m good at following rules if they are clear. I didn’t agree, but that’s not the point.

    The ‘piercing virus’ if I can call it like that, did not die meanwhile : by the 6th year of medical school (at the age of 24) I also had a genital piercing and a nipple piercing. These were of course invisible to all staff, fellow students and patients, so did not bother anyone. The next year came the year of medical specialization. I was selected and accepted, and started my training. After 6 months I did trust the team I was working with as a decent non-judgemental team, and I did get my tongue pierced. Needless to say this piercing was done, like all others, in the most professional way possible, with high standard aftercare. Aware of medical literature on possible complications of certain piercings (I did follow the literature), I of course tried to avoid all the pitfalls. for instance for the tongue piercing, I did have it done as backward as possible, I did replace the barbell as soon as possible with a shorter one, and I also stretched it to about 4 mm. In that way it is a short very snug barbell that doesn’t wiggle around, and NEVER touches my teeth or gum. Having had it for years now, these tactics seem to work because there is no dental problem whatsoever.

    The main question was however … will anyone notice it ? I did go for black or red colored barbells or balls on barbells, as to make it a bit less visible. To my amusement … nobody actually notices it. Even not good friends or family, until the day I actively decide to show them. I’m aware this will not be the case for everyone (it also depends on the way you talk). But the message is … I was willing to ‘take the risk’ to be discovered if I can put it like that.

    I continued to get other invisible piercings, and one day also got a septum piercing (in the nose septum, just below the cartilage). Again, when not wearing any jewelry in it, it is invisible. But because it tended to close when not having anything in it for prolonged periods of time, I started stretching it too, to about 6 mm. Just by wearing a tunnel or a ring in it in the evenings / nights / weekends. I have been very nervous about this, again being a bit afraid someone would ‘discover’ or notice it. But over the years I got to a senior position, I know what I’m worth, I’m known as a reliable and friendly physician. So I started accepting the risk that one dat someone would be aware of my interest. And it happened. And there was some surprise reaction, but that’s it. I wasn’t nervous about it anymore. I don’t care. I’m not a different person or a better person with or without piercings. My colleagues have to take me as I am, with my own habits. And trust me, if you think I’m weird because of my ‘piercing addiction’, then I can refer you to some of my colleagues with smoking or alcohol or sex addictions, or those who put their newest car above patients, and so many other variations of the human race. Physicians are NOT different, they are only positioned by some selected people in society to pretend to be different.

    And what about patients ? I agree with some remarks above that some patients might not appreciate their physician being pierced or tattooed. But again, as soon as there is a relation of trust based on multiple consultations, patients wouldn’t care less. For them, it is the quality and speed of the medical care that is important, and the human contact. NOT the appearance. Did any patients notice my piercings ? I have no idea. They never actively discussed it.

    Just to end … one of the treatments I’m involved in is treating cheloid scars. Yes, you can theoretically get them after a piercing or a tattoo. I can honestly say that max 5% of those I treated were body art related. The others were linked to aggression, or in >50% of patients … previous medical procedures (some of which were not necessary or not well done).

    I’m 43 at the moment, and I still have most of my piercings. I have no regrets, and I consider myself a competent and happy physician earning a good living.

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  72. James on April 27, 2013, 5:36 p.m.

    People need to realize it is no longer 1982 and that we are are living in the 21st century, I understand if you’re 70 years old and have opinions, but if someone refuses to go to a medical doctor because they have tattoos, that is insane, if i saw a doctor that had sleeves, i would probably stick around for quite some time.

    = Tattooed and employed.

  73. Joshua on May 26, 2013, 1:49 p.m.

    I’m a 26 year old male coder, and personally I feel that a doctor with visible tattoos is off-putting. I hate going to the doctor in general, and when I do go to the doctor I want someone who thinks for the long term, and is more logical than emotional.

    The idea that the doctor is so concerned with expressing themselves is incongruent with their supposed path in life to make the best decisions that limit risk and maximize benefits.

  74. Eli on June 28, 2013, 1:42 a.m.

    A Medical Doctor with tattoos is still a Medical Doctor. People that see them as having tattoos and judge them in a negative way are stupid. If those tattoos really make you feel uncomfortable and makes you forget that you went to seek medical help,then I can not imagine how horrible of a person you are. When I went the hospital because of a car crash I saw many medical professionals with tattoos, im talking about sleeves and neck tatoos. I didnt give a dam if they were tattooed or not, I saw them as a person and as someone that can help me. I didnt go there to judge and say thats unprofessional or share my views with them, I went there to get treated. Whenever you have another of your judgemental episodes, go to the nearest mirror and look at yourself. Why are you wearing the shirt you got on, why do you have the hair style you have, why did you buy those shoes.look at your style. You have the style you have because you are expressing yourself, youre only expressing yourself at a different level. If you have a problem with tattoos keep it to yourself, dont go out there treating people with disrespect because you are trying to force your own belifes into other people.

  75. old school doctor on July 9, 2013, 8:35 p.m.

    Yea, all you objectors are right. Tattoos totally inhibit your mental capacity, ability to reason, and ability to do your job. As a matter of fact, so does being black, or being a woman, or anything else that doesn’t have to do with being a physician. Keep it old school y’all…

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  77. Adam on July 21, 2013, 1:59 p.m.

    In my pathology textbook there was an excerpt in the chapter about skin diseases which went like this: “although tattoos do not present a serious pathological issue thay do confirm an intellectual defect of a subject”. I think it is brilliant and exceptionally accurate statement made by an old physician that I shall remember throughout my whole professional life.

  78. Samantha on July 24, 2013, 12:21 a.m.

    Isn’t it funny how people without tattoos often judge those with tattoos, yet people with tattoos never complain that other people don’t. I think it would be nice to have a doctor with tattoos. Why? People with tattoos are often the least judgmental. Also, doctors with tattoos must be hard working if they have to deal with these other morons.

  79. Alex k on Sept. 9, 2013, 3:32 a.m.

    Mary cemi – you don’t just want to find out what I wrong and fix it you want to create a relationship with this patient no matter how long they are there for; whether its a warm hello and friendly smile to a whole night stay you want them to feel like they can relate to you in some way that you are human too. Yes some elders may think we’re “young” and silly but were there to help them, they can think what they want and we will do the best of our ability to make them feel at home. With you I see its all about the dollar.

    To all you conservatives;
    Young people with tattoos have a story to tell. They love art and the beauty of color and want to express that. They feel strongly and have a passion for something. They take pride in themselves to be different and would love to tell you about their tattoos, just ask! Open your mind and listen to others. I don’t understand how doctors of all people are sitting on here writing its unprofessional. Stop judging and watch a good doctor do his job and after take off his lab coat, do we say hes bad now? and have tattoos. Like someone said previously above if they are judging their colleagues like that how are they judging their patients? Who are you to judge what is professional and what isn’t. Obscene gestures and swear words obviously wouldn’t be a good tattoo choice but of the tattoo is not offense in that sense there should be no question about it. If its a heeled tattoo its not against any health codes so end of discussion. Open your minds, think twice the next time you’re judging someone. Would you want to be judged on your everyday life?

  80. Is the world ready for tattooed, pierced physicians? | USMLE AID on Sept. 25, 2013, 12:49 a.m.

    […] http://thedo.osteopathic.org/?p=86631 Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… This entry was tagged Doctors, MedStudents, Professionalism. Bookmark the permalink. […]

  81. AVOGT on Oct. 1, 2013, 9:44 a.m.

    Having a tattoo doesn’t matter. Not having a tattoo doesn’t matter. Your expertise and experience are what matter. Judgments based on ideologies against such things as tattoos are congruent with a patient not wanting a doctor because he’s too old, too young, a woman, a man. The long and short of it is this, everyone has an ego that they are trying to serve. If that ego prompts you to avoid tattooed doctors that’s your choice. If your ego prompts you to avoid old doctors, that’s your choice. If your ego prompts you to avoid a doctor with a speech impediment, that’s your choice. See what I’m getting at here? Someone will always have a problem with something. If you want a tattoo, get one. If anyone has a problem with that, it’s an outward reflection of issues they have with themselves. The same goes for issue with the elderly, the young, black, white etc etc.

    I read comments from folks on here that blast their opinion calling people stupid for having tattoos. Worry about yourself, don’t judge, be open and see what happens to your life. There are good doctors and there are bad doctors, outward appearance has nothing to do with it. And for anyone to cast a stone at someone for a choice they have made is just completely ridiculous. If you are perfect, then by all means voice your negativity but there in lies the paradox as you are far from perfect when you hold judgments.

    And just an FYI, I am fully sleeved on my right arm, partial on my left and I have a very well paying job, a nice house, a car, an undergrad degree from a wonderful university and a masters degree. My tattoos have never once closed a door for me or caused me any grief, except for when I read peoples’ negative responses as it upsets me that we’re still so primitive.

    If everyone only realized that we shape ideology, ideology doesn’t shape us. If everyone only realized that this life is all we have. If everyone only realized that you are only bound to that which you allow yourself to be bound, discussions like this wouldn’t occur.

  82. jay valentino on April 5, 1:06 a.m.

    It’s pretty obvious after reading all the responses, that those who have all these tattoos are insecure. They want so much for people to react to them. It’s basically like carrying a neon sign saying “PLEASE PLEASE ASK ME ABOUT MY TATOO, SO YOU WILL KNOW MY PAIN.” Jeez, how sad that everybody suffers from such low self esteem and is so needy for attention. So more than others, hence the stupid comic book looking ink injections. Total insecurity is what it communicates.

  83. Aida on June 3, 2:58 p.m.

    If you are a patient receiving care, you have the right to choose who you want treating you. Whether or not you are comfortable with a physician with a visible artwork on your body does not impair your ability to be a good physician. However, it simply does not belong in the workplace. You are usually required to cover artwork with clothing as a professional. The reason being, is that it simply is not made for the professional workplace….no matter how great of a physician you are, it just isn’t a professional look.

  84. Tattoos and Discrimination | Women of HR on July 8, 6:01 a.m.

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  85. Leandra on July 13, 1:19 a.m.

    I’m so happy that so many people have become more open-minded and caring. Though I don’t have any tattoos right now, I would LOVE to get some. Not covering my entire body, but some small to medium sized ones. One will be for my deceased mother who died when I was 4 years old, and whom I have absolutely no memories of and miss so much. I would never get a tattoo that meant nothing. I’ll get a Bible verse someday or a really wise quote.

    I get A’s in everything but Math (B’s or C’s) and I have Asperger’s. My mom has a friend who’s 7 year old children I would die for, but really I would die for any child, because no child deserves to die.

    All of this proves that not all tatttooed people are thugs or whatever that is believed to be bad. Yet I don’t judge people for being judgmental unless if their prejudice is unimaginably heartless. They may have coherent reasons for being judgmental. I could have been almost killed by an animal and then end up hating all of that animal ever since. Would that be wrong? Of course. Not all animals would be like such.

    The point is, we all make mistakes, whether huge or small. Judging someone before you know them should be forgivable. So don’t hate yourself for making a mistake. If you truly are a person who means well, then don’t hate yourself.

    So if I treat you with kindness, treat me the same way. You didn’t choose to have your natural hair color. You didn’t choose to be white, black, or whatever your skin color is. You didn’t choose to have your natural color eyes.

    An even greater example is this: I love chocolate. It’s my weakness. But I don’t hate those who don’t like it.

    I hate mashed potatoes. Do I hate those who like them? Absolutely not.

    Having tattoos or not should not be any different. They are not hurting you by having tattoos, nor would they be hurting you for liking a certain food. How would you feel if you were judged for something you didn’t choose, couldn’t help, or something that just makes you happy? If you are a kind or well-meaning person, then no one should care.

    RAMCDO, your son is a complete dunce for cancelling an appointment for no other reason than that the doctor had tats. If a doctor looks like a doctor, acts like a doctor, works in the hospital, and HAS A DEGREE, THEN THAT PERSON IS A DOCTOR.

    I apologize if it sounds like I’m judging your son for being prejudiced. I am not judging him, but I am VERY disappointed in him, and I’m sure you are, too.

    So if I am the first person to offer to help her, whether it’s a small random act of kindness, or SAVING YOUR LIFE, and yet you judge me for having tattoos, even if it’s in memory of my lost mother, then maybe you are not worth my time nor the time of anyone else with an open mind and a good heart.

  86. Leandra on July 13, 1:30 a.m.

    AND ONE MORE THING

    Even if tattoos were bad, I would rather hurt myself than someone else. Why? Because I KNOW that just because I had a bad life, it doesn’t mean I’m the only one who matters. THERE ARE MILLIONS WHO HAVE WORSE LIVES THAN I EVER DID.

    I don’t care if you do drugs. As long as you don’t force others to take them I will not judge you.

    I don’t care if you smoke. Just don’t make me do it.

    And so on.

    THINK BEFORE YOU JUDGE!

  87. Morgan on Aug. 22, 3:40 p.m.

    Loved all this.

    Not everyone is going to like you.
    Not everyone is going to dig you as their doctor.
    Yay for freedom of choice!

    As a future physician myself, I would hope that the intent in my heart and soul are so overwhelmingly intense that the beautiful colors on my skin do not “distract” them from hearing the thoughtful healing words from my highly educated mouth.

    I hope you are all wildly successful in your careers because you are your AUTHENTIC true self that people flock to be treated by you if for only a moment to be in the presence of someone who is consciously awake to this game we call life.

    And I hope all those too afraid to break cultural and social norms can one day see that it really, truly, does not matter. Not even a little tiny bit.

    Do you.

    Love love love,

    Morgan

  88. HepC on Nov. 8, 1:52 p.m.

    Most, if not all, employers will hire someone based on being the best fit for the organization, whether a medical or accounting company. If you think you’ll be cut much slack because you’re a doctor, you’re mistaken. If you don’t wear your ear, nose or tongue piercing to the interview(s), don’t expect to ever wear them ever at work. Spacers and face piercings, whether they’re in or out and leaving a gaping hole in your face for your boss and patients to stare at automatically tell most people “unemployable.” That ship has sailed years ago and you’re not going to change that.

    If a patient that has no other choice but to go to a certain clinic or hospital based on lack of insurance, Medicare/Medicaid doesn’t count either, they are forced to take what they can get by whatever person donates their time there. You can probably wear a Star Trek uniform with pierced knuckles and still fill your waiting room up. The AOA facilities prey upon those that have little means in this way, so you may probably be OK while in medical school or can’t get into an MD residency, but that’s as far as it goes. If you’re good enough to have private-pay patients give you a good portion of your billing (every doctor’s true dream) they will expect absolute professionalism, you continuously improving yourself and not to show any sort of cult affiliation, which is how they will interpret all of your decorations you still let be seen.

    I have no problem with any school being up-front about being a cash business, as most of the AOA organizations and schools really are and hide it until you go to class the first day, but RVU originally caught so much flack about this and it’s graduates still deal with a stigma, so you know what still goes on, so why would you want to expose yourself to more problems?

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