Can Doctors Have Tattoos?

Can Doctors Have Tattoos? – Overview

A tattoo is a type of body modification. It is done by injecting dyes and other pigments into the dermis of the skin to create a design or artwork. Tattoos can be permanent or temporary in nature.

Tattoos have been a prominent part of various cultures and traditions, especially in parts of Asia, Africa and Native America.

However, with the beginning of different socio-economic beliefs, the acceptability of tattoos is a particular concern in relation to morality.

Traditional Perception of Doctors

Can Doctors have Tattoos

Can Doctors Have Tattoos – Traditional Perception of Doctors

In olden times, when modern medicine was growing, doctors were traditionally known to have a certain composure and demeanor.

This was a reflection of the values that the founding fathers of modern medicine focused on in the medical profession.

A normal doctor is expected to dress conservatively and have a clean-shaved face, without body piercings, along with a white coat to symbolize life and purity.

The Romans and Greek are the founding fathers of modern medicine. Back then, tattoos in Greece symbolized communication between spies. Certain tattoos were used to depict the spy’s identification and rank.

Meanwhile, Romans used tattoos to mark their slaves and also identify criminals. The tattoos depicted them as criminals and also stated the type of crime they were convicted of.

Tattoo-clad warriors were most often seen in Roman gladiatorial games. This is also the reason that tattoos are frowned upon in traditional Roman Catholic culture.

Hence, tattoos usually end up pointing to negative attributes in olden cultures and would have been forbidden by doctors.

However, recent progress in perception relating to tattoos has started changing this outlook.

Can Doctors Have Tattoos?

So, the question arises, are doctors allowed to have tattoos today? The answer is yes, but everything depends on your workplace regulations and the type of patients you see.

According to research by Bmjopen, the major portion of patients who visit hospitals actually prefers to be evaluated by physicians who resemble the traditional clean-cut, conservative doctor.

This can include having a clean-shaven

face, corporate attire with a tie or even a lab coat. This satisfies most patients when they appear in front of a traditionally attired doctor.

However, a different survey by the Inquirer found that out of the 900+ patients questioned, the majority of them did not have any problems with their doctor displaying body tattoos.

These doctors are considered to be equally competent as their traditional and conservative colleagues.

At times, tattoos can be a bonding line between doctors and patients who also have tattoos.

At least, the tattoos on a doctor’s arms can give the patient and physician something else to discuss apart from the disease they are suffering from.

Besides this, there are several specialties in medicine and surgery where it does not matter if the doctor or physician sports tattoos.

For instance, a diagnostic radiologist or a sonographer can have tattoos in visible places, but it doesn’t affect their work or the patient’s perception because there is little to no patient-physician contact in this area.

However, for internal medicine doctors, tattoos can be a cause for concern, especially if their patient demography majority consists of conservative-minded people.

Problems with Visible Tattoos on Doctors

In the past few years, people are becoming more accepting of tattoos on physicians. So, it may not be too challenging for doctors with tattoos to have a good career.

However, this mainly depends on the type of workplace, your co-workers, and the patient’s perception of tattoos.

As some hospitals have a different value system, having a visible tattoo on your body may make you ineligible to apply for a position.

For instance, healthcare facilities that are owned or managed by religious organizations usually have problems with doctors sporting tattoos.

However, this policy may not be applied at a government-run healthcare facility.

According to research from 2015 on whether people would accept co-workers with tattoos in the healthcare industry, 4% admitted they would not hire doctors with tattoos.

However, around 96% of surveyed confessed to having no issues with body art on physicians as long as they are competent. This is incredibly good news for doctors with tattoos.


In short, there are no specific government guidelines for doctors having tattoos.

However, private healthcare facilities with conservative values may not accept employment applications from doctors who sport visible tattoos, such as on the neck, biceps, forearms, wrists, etc.

However, always remember to get a tattoo from a reliable and hygienic tattoo artist to avoid infections and other risks.

See Also

Can Nurses Have Tattoos

How to Educate Patients About Medications

Physician Assistant Salary

What is a Resident Doctor

Loans for Medical Doctors

Physician Wellness Grants

How to Stay Sane as a Healthcare Worker

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