Can doctors have tattoos? Is it fine for physicians to have tattoos?

Can doctors have tattoos? Well in most scenarios tattoos are frowned upon in the workplace. If you consider corporate offices many go all out to ban people who wear tattoos from the workplace entirely. Some companies may demand them to be covered up so that they are not fully visible.

For physicians, however, having tattoos has always been considered unprofessional. This is more of a culture of the workplace than a requirement. But most hospitals shy away from hiring physicians who have tattoos especially if they are visible tattoos, on the head and neck region or on the exposed hands. This is because many patients don’t feel safe in the hands of a physician who has visible tattoos. Patients are unable to build immediate trust with a physician which is very much a requirement in the healthcare profession. Most patients tend to be apprehensive and don’t open up immediately to a doctor who has tattoos. Thus many hospitals adopt such a policy. A lack of patient confidence in a physician can be very detrimental mainly in the trauma and emergency setting, where immediate consent to care is required.

This is mostly because in the general population people are brought up to associate tattoos with gang members and with people involved in illegal activities. This is a general social norm and notion. As it is a social norm it gets really hard to tackle on a population level. Although many patients may happily accept a physician who has visible tattoos or even full sleeves. Some people will bluntly reject the provider. As hospitals are usually short of staff, especially during odd hours of the night it may get really challenging to arrange an alternate provider for the patient who is well versed in the problem that the patient is facing.

Thus you will mostly experience hospital administrators rejecting physicians with visible tattoos. So in my opinion it is best practice to stay away from tattoos that are visible entirely. They do tend to cause problems in the workplace, especially in building trust with patients. If you want to have tattoos it is best to get them in areas of your body that are not visible under your scrubs to avoid any future problems.

Can doctors have tattoos that aren’t visible?

Yes, they can. Tattoos that are covered up such as tattoos on the upper arms, legs, chest, and back are usually covered by the physician’s scrubs and hence they are not noticeable. So many hospitals will not care if you have tattoos that aren’t plainly visible. These tattoos are not going to affect your career prospects and job opportunities. So you can have them.

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