Q: Our veterinarian just did something I consider unforgivable. She got a nose ring to match her creepy tattoos. I can’t help looking at her and thinking she looks like a cow with that thing hanging from her nose. The snake coming out of her scrub top and coiled around her neck was bad enough. Isn’t there a professional standard for how veterinarians look? I didn’t mind it so much when veterinarians and doctors started dressing in scrubs (which look like pajamas to me), but things like piercings and tattoos seem like they go too far.
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A: Is your veterinarian ethical, trustworthy, talented, patient and kind to your pets? If you’ve been to see her more than once, I’d venture to guess she meets all your basic requirements for what a veterinarian should be. Is the superficial stuff really that important?
I remember when one of my son’s pediatricians bought herself a pair of impressive breasts. I thought they looked ridiculous but I also remember telling myself that I was being judgy and shallow for caring as much as I did. After all, she’s tremendously well qualified and a set of boobs I would never buy is not about to convince me otherwise.
Tattoos and piercings may not be as commonplace or as widely accepted as plastic surgery in South Florida, but they’re rapidly becoming more the norm among younger professionals across all fields. As millennials enter the workforce, these trends are increasingly seen as an expression of individuality.
But I get it. You’re worried that a veterinarian who flouts conventions and expresses her individuality in such an in-your-face way might not share your values. In other words, you’d rather she be more like you. But does your pet care?
Think about it: Appearance is not only wholly superficial, it’s utterly meaningless to our patients. They’re not exactly impressed with our weight, our makeup, our hairstyle, or our wardrobe. I’m sure they’re too distracted by the overwhelming smells and sounds to consider how we look.
Moreover, appearance ranks low among the great number of variables influencing how we perform as veterinary professionals. So why harp on the stuff that’s technically not even skin deep when factors like scientific curiosity, work ethic, and innate compassion should matter so much more?
But then, I have blue hair … so maybe you’re asking the wrong veterinarian.