Tattoos in the Medical Office

I have noticed that more and more women, not only among the younger generations, but of ALL ages, are getting #tattoos. I am not speaking of a small heart discretely hidden on the shoulder blade, ankle, or decollete, I am talking about flaming thunder bolts and rambling roses up and around the entire forearm in red, yellow and blues and entire patterns across the chest and up the neck.

The woman in the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through window, the hair dresser who cut my grandson’s hair for his 1st day in school and the cashier at the Stop-and-Shop supermarket–they all had a visible tattoo on their wrist and forearm, nevertheless I am yet to see a medical assistant in the facility where I receive my care with similar tattoos, although I recall one who had a “suspicious” band-aid on her wrist.

All in all, we were taught in medical assistant school to cover them up and take the nose rings out. Mind you, even bright finger nail polish, or worse, fake fingernails were, and still are not encouraged, for good reason. That’s how is was back in the day and that wasn’t too long ago.

Nurse Roxanne made the following point:

“It’s about how appearances influence the way other people treat us. Either it’s a large scar or burn on your face, a hump on your back or a body full of tattoo’s. People judge by what they see and what they associate with that appearance. My point is that having a lot of tattoo’s, or any other ‘flaw’ in your appearance doesn’t make you a lesser person or a less harder worker.”

healthcare worker with a tattoo
healthcare worker with tattoos


5 thoughts on “Tattoos in the Medical Office”

  1. I am one of 2 CMA’s at a family practice clinic in Seattle. I have 8 tattoos that are all hidden under scrubs. My roommate who is also my Co-worker has a full sleeve tattoo of a peacock on one arm, 2 tattoos on her fingers, a few tattoos on her other arm, some on her chest and more that are covered by scrubs. Our patients LOVE it! They always ask about them and while chatting about her tattoo’s they become comfortable with her. She is able to get more information from the patient that allows her to relay it to the provider to better care for the patient. I feel like it’s a conversation starter. I have not seen a single patient have an issue with it or thinks she is any less of an MA. If anything they prefer her because they are so comfortable with her. I think it is awesome! Patients that do not know us by name call her “the one with the tattoos” & call me “the one with out!” LOL!
    I know is rare that doctors currently allow their MA’s to show their tattoos but I truly believe if they did they would see how it truly does not change the care their patients receive in a bad way… it changes in a good way!

    1. What a great point you have made, April… coming from a working medical assistant in the field we can truly appreciate your direct insights. Obviously, times have changed then! There was a time where tattoos, esp. in the medical and healthcare field were frowned upon and not very well perceived, esp. by the employer. Now, there are tattoos everywhere with motifs specifically for nurses and those in the medical field. Well, I think your feedback certainly helps to change the stigma. Oh, by the way… should we, at this point, also raise the question whether eyebrow, nose and lip piercings are appropriate in a medical office? How might the patients perceive those nose rings? Hmmmm….interesting thought.

  2. My name is Nicole and I am a CMA in Baltimore, MD. From my experience the tattoos seem to bother co-workers and supervisors more than patients. A tattoo does NOT make one less professional or less competent in their duties. It is a prejudice pure and simple. Sad, when hospitals are preaching diversity, but not truly practicing their own doctrine. Eventually, this disturbing prejudice will go the way of the doo-doo. Hopefully sooner than later.

    1. In addition: Tattoos and body piercings (as with most jewelry worn that can harbor communicable bacteria, virus, diseases) are not even close to be in the family, etc… it’s jewelry of any kind in a clinical setting. All of us in the medical field should know better. ID will open your eyes quick, or should. I had quite a few RN/MDs approach me in reference to my tattoos and professionalism. (All the while wearing wedding rings, long/acrylic nails, necklaces, earring dangling, etc….) When I called them out, politely of course, their prospective seemed to be quite different. Sometimes you need to reminded what patient safety and customer service truly is. Wearing slacks was considered unprofessional and inappropriate in the medical field for women, and that was not all that long ago. I am sure the older RN’s remember. That was a gender issue of professionalism about skirts vs pants…which we know now is ridiculous I think the future holds bright things for true diversity in the medical field. I just hope I live long enough to see it. 🙂

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