A study finds patients don’t mind their ER doc’s body art.
Researchers from St. Luke’s University Health Network in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania surveyed emergency room patients who rated the providers on a five point Likert scale on their perception of competence, professionalism, caring, approachability, trustworthiness, and reliability in their doctor. Their findings found patients had “no perceived difference” in the above metrics, “and assigned top box performance in all domains >75% of the time, regardless of physician appearance.”
So Can Medical Students Break out the Nose Ring?
No, not so fast. Although body art is beautiful, and accessorizing with piercings can make our dreary scrubs pop, the average physician is fighting more and more these days to capture the faith of the patient who keeps turning to the web for medical advice.
The above study surveyed patients in emergency rooms….a setting in which patients are desperate to receive care in an emergency and are grateful, on most occasions. What about the oncologist who needs to give somber news about a patient’s cancer? Would patients appreciate the skull and crossbones tattoo on his neck? Probably not.
Piercings and tattoos make a statement, tell a story, or add character to the body on which they adorn. And the attention they command is why I’m such a fan. So I agree that it has no bearing on one’s “competence, professionalism, caring, approachability, trustworthiness, and reliability.” However, in many medical scenarios the patient needs to feel he is the main focus. Patients want to believe we providers wake up, eat, exercise to maintain our health, dress, and wash our hands for them. And they’re right…we do. So our personal style, statements and stories are kept to a minimum at work.
It’s unfortunate because I was really hoping to get the following Lord of the Rings tattoo of Aragorn when hubby wasn’t looking….
For more on the study see here.