Why it is not Accepted That Doctors Have Tattoo Essay Example

  • Category: Health, Health Care,
  • Words: 1543 Pages: 6
  • Published: 12 May 2021
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Do you have a tattoo? If not, would you consider getting one? Recently I have become interested in the art of tattoos and though I am open to the idea for one myself, there are four reasons that I have yet to get one. First, I have a fear of commitment and a tattoo being as permanent as it is, is very important to weigh in on before deciding to go through with it. Second, I shy away from the impending pain when I imagine a needle constantly etching into my dermis for an unspecified amount of time. Third, I have no sense of inclination towards what design I would choose. As my first tattoo, it seems that I should decide on a design with sentimental value, such as the piano, but I could also go on a whim with a stereotypical Pinterest inspired tattoo. The fourth dilemma is concerned with my future workplace. While I haven’t decided what I will do, I might decide to apply to NYU’s School of Medicine especially since it was recently announced that the medical students have a fully covered tuition. Oddly enough, while I fear needles, the sight of a scalpel and blood is no worry as in my mind, it just another medical procedure. On the other hand, I believe that workers in the health profession with visible tattoos would deal with tension among patients as he or she would reflect a sense of incapability due to outward appearance.

The existence of tattoos can be traced back hundreds of years with scientists discovering a mummy with tattoos in Chile dating seven-thousand years old. In European history, cultures such as the Romans often utilized tattoos as a form of branding outsiders. SCHIMD Similarly, tattoos were also used for branding criminals and slaves. Perhaps it is from this act of labeling criminals with tattoos, that the perception that tattoos are an indicator of dangerous behavior has stemmed from. Often, as tattoos also symbolize a group’s identity, most notably gangs, people believe at first glance that a tattoo demonstrates alliance with a gang. Moreover, many gang members in prison have tattoos that associate themselves with a certain group, and their tattoos are even able to communicate a rank or accomplishment of crime. INSERT SOURCE(Phelan) This is also supplied by the fact that tattooing in prisons is a commonplace. Tattooing being a stigma of crimes occurs not only in the Americas but also in many parts of the world. For example, a country more conservative than the United States of America is Japan whose history with tattoos were often associated with the yakuza, a large operating crime organization. Its members would have heavily tattooed torsos, as such, the older generation of Japan still hold negative sentiments concerning tattoos and even public hot springs enforce a strict “no tattoo” policy. 

Today, it is believed that at least 25% of adults in the United States of America have tattoos with the numbers continuing to increase (Wittman-Price). While it is likely that modern views towards tattoos have become more progressive, as a result of the actions in the past, tattoos have had a negative reputation. Keep in mind, for the sake of inquiry, the tattoos I refer to are visible tattoos due to either size or location. I conjecture that occupations pertaining to a great deal of responsibility on others, such as the previously mentioned doctor, are the least likely to readily accept visible tattoos. Even when I was in elementary school, my classmates and I treated tattoos on teachers like a scandal or a devious secret. Likewise, when I went to the doctors for my annual checkup, it occurred to me how I have yet to see a doctor with tattoos. The relationship between appearance and trust are so intertwined that having a tattoo would clearly influence first impressions. 

Would you be open to a doctor administering care, regardless of his or her appearance? As established earlier that tattoos are a symbol for crime, healthcare workers with tattoos are usually seen as unprofessional. A majority of people in multiple indicated a preference to be treated by a professional without a tattoo. In the survey conducted by Scarlett C. Johnson, there are findings that demonstrate a lack of trust in a tattooed doctor. Johnson notes that eighteen subjects, out of 314 participants expressed a refusal to receive care from a tattooed provider, in comparison to the eleven subjects that felt the same way about a non-tattooed provider. Similarly, the data also indicates a lack of confidence in tattooed doctors in comparison to the non-tattooed doctors by a difference of 34 subjects. (JOHNSON). The apprehension towards tattooed doctors is not only a geographical issue either. While Johnson’s study was performed in Hawaii, other locations such as both Resenhoeft’s study and Westerfield’s study being conducted in the eastern United States of America, and Flanigan’s study conducted in the south-western part of the United States of America had similar findings.

Perceived image plays an important role in explaining why outsiders view tattooed doctors as deviants in their profession. It is important to consider other occupations as more accepting of tattoos unlike when it pertains to healthcare professionals. The perceived image of those in the medical field are seen as clean cut, therefore well put together. Especially, when the profession requires its workers to wear a uniform when a tattoo is also added into the image, there is a negative response. In the overarching idea of doctors with tattoos, perhaps it is the notion that a uniform symbolizes an individual as being responsible and capable, but when in correlation with an obtrusive tattoo, regardless of design, the two symbols create a discord which questions the capability of a worker in the field.

The conflict is even more apparent when looking at the gender bias under workers in the healthcare field. In the study conducted by Westerfield, the data indicates that patients perceived visibly tattooed female providers as less professional than their male counterpart. Moreover, patients saw the female doctor as lacking in confidence and less approachable. A possible angle to consider the reasoning behind this bias is the stereotype that gender is associated with. Females are often seen as figures of care, whether it be a mother or sister, they are portrayed as responsible, while the idealization of a man is thought of as strong and tough. Therefore, a male with a tattoo is, even as a doctor, able to get away with it since he is just showing that he is “tough”. On the other hand, if a female has a tattoo, the initial image of a docile female is wronged and indicates an inability to be responsible which is why the female would have a tattoo. 

Dr. Sarah Gray also touches on her experience as both a tattooed doctor and a female in the field. In her interview with Inked Magazine, Dr. Gray sometimes referred to as the “world’s most tattooed doctor” expresses her personal opinion about being a doctor while visibly tattooed. Interestingly enough, while she mentions that in her daily life, she has faced challenges from being tattooed, such as being prohibited from entering a restaurant, as a doctor, she has felt welcomed by her peers and patients. Dr. Gray’s comments on being a female in the medical profession and how regardless of a tattoo, that women still face challenges such as the pay gap, but acknowledges that as both female and tattooed individual, she will likely face a different kind of discrimination in the future. Her outlook on her position is positive as she has also benefited by the ink on her body. She attributes her tattoos as a way to connect with her patients, especially the younger generation, and serves as a topic of conversation.

Likewise, in an interview with Justin C. who, like Dr.Gray, is a physician with visible tattoos, he also sees the benefit in being tattooed. While he has also faced scrutiny for his tattoos, he has found that tattoos form a connection with his patients. He expresses how “Having tattoos is especially good for building a rapport with younger patients. [He also has treated] former inmates at Rikers [Island Correctional Facility], and they have gang tattoos”. Both Dr.Gray and Justin’s experience as a medical professional show a different light on how tattoos have actually benefited in their line of work.

Similarities that both of these interviews share are the acceptance that the younger generation has of tattoos, and that will likely continue. As Flanigan notes “There seems to be a significant difference between younger and older generations on attitudes toward tattoos. Even though tattooing can be viewed as artistic self-expression, others, especially older individuals, still view the act of tattooing as deviant behavior and as a rebellion against society at large”. Perhaps the key to change is within the youth itself. While the older generation has grown up seeing a majority of tattooed individuals have a propensity in crime, tattoos have been gradually seen as a form of art. Instead of crime, youth are now being introduced to tattoos in another form, self-expression.

I would still like to get a tattoo one day because I feel as if I grew up with seeing the sentiments of elders’ disdain of tattoos but also from media itself, I see tattooing as an art. In its core essence, tattoos are self-expression whether to express a connection to criminal behavior or express oneself. Moreover, ironically tattoos are related to the medical field. I once met someone during camp who told me about her apprenticeship at her local tattoo shop. She explained how while the main event is the ink and tattoo machine, there is preparation concerning the hygiene of sterilized needles to aftercare to avoid infections. Fortunately, while my cultural background is Asian, my parents accept my decision whether to get a tattoo. Many people from diverse backgrounds are not as lucky because unlike the United States of America, some cultures are still not open to the idea of tattoos are regard them as criminal behavior.

 

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