Perceptions of midwives with visible body art: OK or no way?
The Nursing and Midwifery Council
The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) Code (NMC, 2015) details the professional standards that midwives must uphold whether their practice involves direct care or when they are in leadership, education or research roles. The four key principles of the Code are: to prioritise people, to practise effectively, to preserve safety, and to promote professionalism and trust. In relation to prioritising people, midwives must treat women as individuals and ‘avoid making assumptions and recognise diversity and individual choice’ (NMC, 2015:4). Tattoos and piercings are becoming increasingly popular forms of body art, with Laux et al (2016) suggesting that up to 36% of people under the age of 40 have at least one tattoo. Anecdotal evidence suggests that tattoos, piercings and ‘creative’ hair styles and colours may have elicited negative opinions and assumptions of an individual's character and lifestyle choices in the past; however, in today's climate of greater acceptance, what if it is the midwife who has made these choices? Do negative assumptions work both ways, and does this impact on professional status?
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