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Dreadlocks in medical school

Discussion in 'Medical Students - DO' started by doinmybest5840, Jun 5, 2008.

  1. doinmybest5840

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    I've been considering having my hair dreaded for a long time now, but waited to finish med school interviews so I could avoid any unnecessary judgment about my appearance. Now that I've been accepted and will be starting school in the fall, how big of a deal would it be to have dreadlocks? I am a clean person and plan to take good care of them and keep them looking nice and not ratty or messy. Is this an awful idea? Should I wait until partway through the first semester to give professors a chance to know me before judging me? Does anybody have (or know medical students who have) dreadlocks and have info about how dreads effected their med school experience? Thanks! As a side note, I am a white female (just in case that influences your response).
     
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  3. elwademd

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    i grew my locks during medical school, between my 2nd and 3rd year ( i took some time off). but i was still in the uncomfortable/unflattering short stage, and didn't catch any flack for it. of course, being in the hospital/on the wards is a bit different than being in the classroom everyday.

    unfortunately, people tend to have prejudices with people who have locks. of course, you can't control what other people think/feel, so there's not much use in worrying about it! :)

    as long as you're comfortable with who you are and where you are in life, there's no reason not to do it.

    as a side note, i'm a black male (just in case that influences your response to my response!) :D
     
  4. doinmybest5840

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    Well right now my hair is almost to my shoulders, but layered. So I was thinking of either doing it as is, or trying to grow it out a bit first, but I don't see what difference that really makes. Do you think it'd be better to start with normal hair and then dread it partway through the year as a means of trying to escape some of the prejudice? I know I can't control what other people think or feel about me, but I guess I'm worried about creating unnecessary problems by having dreads. LOL at your side note. I hope I didn't offend you or anyone else with what I said. I just mentioned it because I feel like people have different feelings about dreads based on race. Not to mention the fact that I posed a similarly worded question in a different forum and someone said, "If you're black, go for it. If not... eh." So I was worried. Thank you for responding!
     
  5. PunkmedGirl

    PunkmedGirl Freshman Member
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    Wow that sucked. Well I am not going to have dreads persay but I am leaving my hair natural and aiming for the big afro look...you know the jackie brown look LOL. I say go for it. And if you could not tell by my description of hair I am black.. :laugh::laugh: OHH and Granted I am not starting medical school yet either, but that I would be helpful:D:D
     
  6. Red Beard

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    I think you can get away with it during the first two years, but as lame as it is, having a crazy hairstyle will be a problem for a lot of your older preceptors third and fourth year.

    Doctors and patients are humans, and just like the rest of us they will often form snap judgements based on your appearance. If you are willing to accept that your hairstyle will be a problem for some people, or be something you have to 'overcome' in order to get a good eval from a preceptor or the trust of a patient, then that's your prerogative--go for it.
     
  7. KateGia

    KateGia OMS-III
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    I'm going to be honest and say that any white female I've ever seen with dreads really just looked dirty, like they forgot how to shower. Our hair is just not meant to do that. There are several black students in our class with dreads and they look nice. If you are able to have dreads that look nice and don't look dirty, then go for it, otherwise, I'd say hold off.
     
  8. farnsworth

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    Yeah. Just trashy. Doctors don't have dreads.
     
  9. doinmybest5840

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    Red Beard - I'd probably cut the dreads before my third year and grow my natural hair out from then on, so I don't think that would be too much of a problem.

    KateGia - If I dreaded my hair, I'd make them medium thickness and take care of them to keep them looking neat. Trust me, I've seen those white girls that look dirty (I had a friend like that), but I don't believe I could ever let myself look like that. As I said before, I'd likely pin my hair back during school hours and keep the dreads groomed and smooth.


    Geez, this is a tougher decision than I thought. I really want to do it, but then I think, do I want to make what will already be several very stressful/difficult years even more so by giving myself an uncommon hairstyle? Or do I want to pass on the dreads, make life easier, and worry about wondering how big of a deal it really would have been? What if I'm making a bigger deal out of this than it really is? I don't know. I overthink things a lot, so it's hard to say. Then again, this is my future I'm talking about. Ugh.
     
  10. milehigh

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    To dread or not to dread?? This is a really personal topic for me as I have had dreads for the past 3.5 years and just went through the interview process.(and yes I was accepted ....... and yes when I visited schools other students didn't stop commenting on how they liked my hair and how their school needed someone like me etc. etc.)

    Dreading your hair is a big step. Once you have them it is pretty difficult to get them out. It takes hours of painful brushing or just shaving your head. If you are worried about what other people think or are worried that your hairstyle may hold you back, then I would say don't do it. On that same thought, do you really want to enter a program or have recs from people who are judging you by your hair?

    Since the age of 14 I had wanted dreads I was always told that I would never get anywhere in this life if I had dreads. So I waited years. Finally I went to the salon and said DO IT! I haven't regretted it in the least and LOVE my hair. And yes, I am white and yes, white people can have beautiful dreads.

    You can always get synth dreads done to see if you like having dreads. They can also be added to your real dreads to avoid the awkward growing in period.

    Take a look at knottyboy.com or hairpolice.com

    They both do synth and natural dreads.
     
  11. milehigh

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    Yes, they do. I have known quite a few.
     
  12. EEL08

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    Does anyone have a picture of what "nice" dreads might look like? I agree with Kate because when I think of dreads I don't think they make look people look very attractive or clean. I may have the wrong picture in my mind though. Maybe I'll google some.
     
  13. farnsworth

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    Not respectable ones. You realize you're going to be treating peoples' grandmothers, right?
     
  14. milehigh

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    look at knottyboy.com

    they have all types of photos
     
  15. doinmybest5840

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    Have you had any trouble with traction alopecia? I've read about that and it worries me. Right now I have really thick, full hair, and I don't want that to change. Thanks for your input. I guess I'm going to have to keep thinking about it. I probably wouldn't do it until July at the earliest anyway... I have a sneaking feeling I'd get fired from work if I showed up with dreads.
     
  16. theraball

    theraball Panned
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    How do you wash dreadlocks? Do you just sort of rub shampoo on top of them and then rinse? To put it in biochemical terms, it seems like the tightly bonded "double helix" would be kind of hydrophobic.

    I believe people should express themselves as they wish. It's what's inside that counts. Unfortunately, appearance does count for a lot, and you might end up with a cranky old doc on rotations who is going to count off points for trivialities like hair style. Maybe you can cover it up with a surgical cap?
     
  17. phoenix0610

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    I'll weigh in--med student, started clinicals already. Have NEVER had any of my patients look at me funny, or comment on my locs, and have had several staff members including one attending comment on how much they loved my hair. You're gonna have haters everywhere, hating on you for some kinda thing--as long as you keep them neat and clean let 'em hate:cool:. Dress professional, act professional, BE professional and you wont have any problems.

    *disclaimer--black female
     
  18. eforest

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    The first year you'll be doing anatomy- it's really really hard to get the smell out of your hair. I always had to scrub. It seems it would be hard to do that with dreds

    Also, thus far, all the white females I've seen with dreds have looked dirty. I actually stopped going to one particular coffee shop because some of the employees have dreds and they look unwashed and dirty- it grossed me out to think they were handling my food. That may have been unreasonable- perhaps they had clean hands- but it was psychological.

    That being said- if a white female classmate of mine had dreds, I wouldn't avoid getting to know her or making friends, but I'd definitely wonder about her judgement, as far as grooming goes.

    If you've always wanted to have dreds and there's some way you can dred your hair and maintain it the first two years, and then get rid of the dreds (cut them off? Un-dred them?) for third year, why not? Sure, some people might be grossed out at first, others might pre-judge you as a very very liberal person, but this might be the last time you don't have to look professional. I took the first two years as an opportunity to wear old t shirts, comfortable jeans, flip flops and sneakers.
     
  19. ShyRem

    ShyRem I need more coffee.
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    Some schools will have you doing preceptorships and clinical experiences first and second year. Check with current students to see what the local view is on white females with dreads. I think some places wouldn't look twice, but if you go to a conservative area you might have some negative comments.
     
  20. GreenShirt

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    I think you have to look at it more from the patient's point of view than your peers/superiors. The latter is going to spend more time getting to know you and will likely overcome any negative associations they may have. The patient, on the other hand, will have only a few minutes to develop an impression. Most patients have certain expectations of how a physician presents themselves (usually it a very clean, groomed and professional image). I'd personally be a little weirded out if my doctor walked in the room with something wacky like a mow hawk or tongue ring. I personally don't think dreds are bad as long as they look clean and tidy, but I don't know what general perceptions are amongst the public. Something to consider.
     
  21. entericoated

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    ...at least you have hair. My hair's fallin out. Express yourself as long as you have it.
     
  22. bluemonkey

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    Although I never had dreads, I did have long hair for a number of years as well as a quite a few ear piercings. Nowadays it isn't really unusual for guys to have these, but my granddad always gave me hours of grief about how he would cut my hair off, etc. While I could care less how he feels about the way I look, it made me realize that I will be seeing patients with similar attitudes to my grandfather, and I most definitely do care that they feel comfortable with me. I completely agree that physical appearance is only a small part of who we really are, but I was willing to give up my hair and earrings to potentially put patients at ease. Although I look relatively clean-cut these days, I still have the hippie in my heart.
     
  23. farnsworth

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    I feel like starting a slow clap after this post. Well said, sir.
     
  24. jonb12997

    jonb12997 I'm a doctor!!
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    Very well said! I will stand up and slow clap with my cohort right above! Whether right or wrong, you're a professional, and people are going to be looking to you for advice and trust, and appearance often plays a part of this.
     
  25. doinmybest5840

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    You have to use special non-additive shampoo, but yeah, you wash your scalp well as usual and then massage it into the dreads.

    I've decided I'm going to start the year off with my hair as is and try to gauge the local attitude about dreads before going through with it. I may end up getting them, and I may not... but I feel it's best to wait at this point.
     
  26. w a n g

    w a n g blarg
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    no one will care about what your hair looks like for the first two years. doubtful anyone will even notice you're there!
     
  27. MossPoh

    MossPoh Textures intrigue me
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    I just find it funny how dreads seem to always look really cool with black people, but as soon as you throw it on a white person they became a dirty hippy instantly. That is fine, I have a lot of dirty hippy friends and am probably one at heart. I HAVE seen one smoking hot girl with dreadlocks. I sat next to her in class and started talking and she was really cool...but she had the weirdest smell on the planet. I couldn't get over it. I wouldn't say it was "bad" but it was that kind of patchouli smell mixed with a light natural body oder. B.O. doesn't phase me too much after being in europe for so long, but the aroma was locked in my head. Just one of those weird things.

    Hey, one of my favorite musicians is a white dude with dreadlocks, so what do I care?
     
  28. LauraDO

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    I am just curious why? Why would you want dreadlocks? The whole idea just seems really strange to me- I'm a pretty conservative person, so maybe that's it, but I just don't get it
     
  29. KateGia

    KateGia OMS-III
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    So after my post, I've thought a lot about this, and I've read everyone else's thoughts. So here are somethings that I've thought about:
    #1 I went onto that website, and I still stand by the fact that most of the white people on there just look dirty.
    #2 if you've never done it before, how do you know that yours won't look dirty? Maybe you'll really suck at it, and med students can't afford to make frequent salon trips.
    #3 Most of the people who had decent looking dreads seemed to have taken like 6 years to get there. If you're going to get rid of them in 2 years, what's the point of starting?
    #4 I feel like usually at the age people enter medical school, they're done with the "experimenting" stages of their lives. Is there any particular reason that You want to do this at this time instead of doing it in undergrad when no one cares how you look? (I could be wrong on this point, but from the people I've met, this seems to be the trend)

    I know you said you're probably not going to get them, but I just thought I'd share all these thoughts for anyone else who may be thinking of doing the same thing
     
  30. JasonUD

    JasonUD PGY-I
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    You're starting first year. You're not going to see any patients for at least 2 years. If you want them then do it. You'll have two years to decide if its appropriate for the clinical years or not and personally, I don't even see it being a problem then.

    My only concern is what one other person brought up- after anatomy you smell like crap (literally if you perforate the bowel) and you will shower more during that time period than you've ever showered before. Can dreads be washed appropriately to get the formaldehyde smell out so it doesn't drive you crazy?
     
  31. farnsworth

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    Many/most schools now have patient exposure during M1-M2.
     
  32. Whaty

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    Of course people will judge you! It happens every single day of every persons lives. When someone looks at another person they have preconceived ideas of what that person is like. It requires alot more effort to change their thinking about you then if you start off on the right foot. So if your worried about what people will think don't get dreads because even if they don't care your going to be so worried about what people are thinking that you might be struggling to learn the important stuff like medicine :p hehe.
     
  33. doinmybest5840

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    What musician are you talking about?
     
  34. doinmybest5840

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    LauraDO- It's just something I've wanted to do for a while but never really got the nerve/got around to it.

    KateGia- I've looked into dread maintenance and talked to several close friends who had them, so I do know how to take care of them to keep them looking neat. And you don't go to a salon to take care of dreads. That's part of the appeal of dreads, that you don't have to pay to go to a salon. Also, from what I can gather, dreadlocks mature over the first 2-4 months and then they usually look fine. But like I said, I don't think I'm going to do it anymore anyway, so it doesn't matter.

    JasonUD- I'll be seeing patients first semester at NSU.
     
  35. SpitterOfTruth

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    Nothing says classy like Fro Hat

    [​IMG]

    looks good forwards and backwards
     
  36. HunterGatherer

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    No dreads? WTF??

    for those that can actually grow it:it is merely an accessory

    If you are worried about what people think about you then don't dread them. Otherwise go for it. It's pretty sad that people have to have worry about certain hairstyles because people will look down on them. I shave my head bald about every 9 months and the comments I receive actually get more silly each year.

    3rd year you are on your own since old school docs will even look down on men with any facial hair. We had a lecture where the doctor said if someone had facial hair he made them go home the 1st day.

    During summer research I met this toxicology ER doc that's bald with tats, and ear rings. Do people care? Maybe, but he knows his stuff. I love NY!!!
     
    #35 HunterGatherer, Jun 26, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2008
  37. MossPoh

    MossPoh Textures intrigue me
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    John Butler

    [​IMG]
     
  38. MossPoh

    MossPoh Textures intrigue me
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    That doesn't sound like an old school doc thing as much as a picky bastard. Most old school docs I know have well trimmed beards. Well not most, but many. I can think of at least 15 with a mustache or full beard off the top of my head.
     
  39. CDO2012

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    I don't think having dreadlocks would be a bad thing, BUT how well does hair absorb smells??? Think about anatomy and your hair just sucking in all that stink and not being able to wash that out :eek:
     

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