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On My Mind
August 2016

Tattoos, Beer, and Bow Ties: The Limits of Professionalism in Medicine

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Pediatrics and Clinical Ethics, University of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • 2Neonatology, Clinical Ethics, Palliative Care, Sainte-Justine Hospital, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • 3Sainte-Justine Hospital Research Center, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
JAMA Pediatr. 2016;170(8):731-732. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.0539

I was at Émile’s bedside, one of the newly admitted preemies. I didn’t hear anybody enter the room and so was surprised when a boisterous male voice asked:

“What’s up with the tattoos?”

I turned to see a tall and large man. I wondered when he could possibly have seen my tattoos. At work, my 20 hours of ink job are hidden under my scrubs. Should I ask him where he saw them? Is there a grotesque picture of me half naked in a Jacuzzi, drinking a fluorescent pink cocktail in a crazy glass somewhere on Facebook? Does it have many “likes”? Or worse, no likes at all? Then I remember. I ran to work today in a tank top and shorts. He must have seen me then, before I showered and changed.

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