As recent editorial in the New York Times reports about medical practices in Prague offering free surgical enhancements to nurses as an employment incentive. One woman opted for breast augmentation and liposuction, free of charge.

Some interesting ethical questions are raised: While the procedures could certainly be beneficial to individual nurses in the short term, could such a practice harm the nursing profession as a whole?

According to reporter Dan Bilefsky, nurses in the region “insist they are under enormous pressure to look good in a society where attractiveness is often as highly prized as clinical skills.” Critics argue that the incentives could promote an idealized body image for nurses, in a profession already suffering from misconceptions about technical competence. A spokeswoman from the Czech nurses association argues that nurses are still perceived as “low level workers” with little to offer besides manual labor. Nurses after all, aren’t intended to be models, but caregivers that provide an enormous benefit to the medical profession and the public they serve. A misplaced emphasis on their physical appearance could undermine public perceptions of their competence and value.

Perhaps there’s nothing unethical about offering rhinoplasty or breast implants to your employees; they’re just analogous to employee discounts at a retailer, vacation packages, or other career perks.

The supposed ethical problems brought by these surgical incentive programs probably shouldn’t be directed at the programs alone, but rather, toward the sexism and discrimination that underlie them.