Visible Tattoos and Piercings at Interviews

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Session 199

Have you ever seen a doctor with visible tattoos? They’re out there. Does that mean you can have visible tattoos and piercings at your medical school interview?

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[04:06] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

“I was wondering if anyone out there has any experience with or advice for interviewing at med schools with tattoos/body modification? Having never personally encountered or seen an inked up physician I’m wondering how accepting the medical community is of body art. As a former hairdresser and horse trainer my previous careers were more open to tattoos and piercings then most.

I have a fair amount of art including 2 half sleeves from the elbow to wrist, a chest piece covering my sternum and collar bones, and pieces on the tops of my feet. No face, neck, or hand tattoos. 

None of my tattoos are offensive, they include things like flowers, horses, an owl, etc. I also have pretty large stretched ear lobes with 1-inch gauges. I can fully cover all of my tattoos by wearing a long-sleeved collared blouse and trousers with boots. Being a female with long hair I can also hide my stretched ears.

On one hand, I know that covering up is probably playing it safe. But on the other hand, I’ve always been one to pride myself on breaking stereotypes around tattoos and piercings and having body art is one of the many ways I identify as non-traditional. 

Would it be worthwhile to talk about this or at least not totally hide everything or should I play it safe and cover up? I am especially torn about this after having several people comment that I “need” to repair my ear lobes if I want to be a physician or have a “real” career.”

[05:54] Just Play It Safe

I have three tattoos, most of them are hidden by scrubs. I have one on the inside of my right biceps. So a short-sleeved scrub would still show the tattoo but I never got any negative feedback.

However, being in medical school is different than getting into medical school. I typically recommend that students play it safe. You don’t know who’s interviewing you so you don’t want to allow any negative bias to enter into their subconscious. And they don’t really get the opportunity to learn who you are.

'It is always almost recommended to play it safe and be conservative.'Click To Tweet

You may not be authentic to yourself or you may not be telling your own story. But this is one area where you have to play it safe. You don’t have to get your tattoos removed. Just put on long sleeves, wear your hair down, and just go from there.

You just don’t need to add this into the mix of everything else that is going on on interview day. So it’s best to play it safe. Cover it up. Talk about it if it comes up.

Once you’re in medical school, a lot of that comes down to the actual school’s policies. What is there in their student code of conduct handbook? What does the school expect in terms of hair color, tattoos, stretched ear loves, etc?

'Once you're in medical school, you still may need to play it safe depending on the school.'Click To Tweet

[Related episode: Preparing for the Medical School Interview]


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