Fellow Favorites: The Culture of Tattoos


Hi, I’m Priya Mammen. I’m an Emergency Physician and a Fellow and trustee of
The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. One of my favorite things in the Mütter is the collection
of tattoos. This was absolutely seen as a pathology. Prior to medical school, I worked internationally and,
depending on which culture you’re in, it’s seen as a sign of either being regal or
being wise or being protected, and so it was a very interesting juxtaposition
of coming back to America and having certain things in a very cultural
context taken as abnormal. My very first week of medical school,
it was like a clear teaching that those who had tattoos were much more
likely to have hepatitis C and to have HIV, and so it was almost like we were all being taught
to immediately judge certain characteristics. But it’s just an interesting way to think about
and understand how subtle biases can be built in to the medical system, to the educational system,
and those who come from different cultures, those who grow up in different ways can bring
that knowledge and awareness with them that will certainly expand and enrich the
world of medicine as a whole.

4 thoughts on “Fellow Favorites: The Culture of Tattoos

  1. When I was recently in the hospital, the phlebotomists
    were happy that I didn’t have tattoos on my arms
    because then they could better see my veins.

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