Can Nurses Have Tattoos? Hospital Policy and Exceptions

Can Nurses Have Tattoos?

Being a nurse means you spend a lot of time with patients. In fact, nurses are the first and last people patients see when they’re in clinics or hospitals.

So a nurse’s appearance can affect how a patient feels about the nurse and medical staff in general.

As a result, nurses with visible ink have had issues with employment and treatment in the workplace.

Fortunately, things are changing, and the medical community, as well as patients, are starting to be more welcoming of unconventional nurses and medical staff,

So can you have a tattoo as a nurse in the US? The short answer is yes, you can. But there are a lot of variables, such as hospital policy and the state of residency.

So to give you a better answer to this question, we’ll take a look at hospital policy, patients’ perceptions, instances when tattoos may be deemed offensive, and how to make life easy as a nursing professional with tattoos.

Hospital Policy About Tattoos

Hospital policy determines whether or not nurses can have visible tattoos in the US.

The same applies to clinics, nursing homes, and in some instances, even medical schools. In some hospitals, the policy rules are stricter than in others.

For instance, some hospitals require you to cover visible tattoos completely during working hours.

Other policies may determine where in your body you can and can’t have body piercings and visible body art such as tattoos.

Hospital policy varies from facility to facility, so you need to consult the management on rules regarding tattoos.

Overall you can expect to run into problems if you have visible body art in places such as the face, hand, and neck.

Patients Perception

Patients will react differently when they see a tattooed nurse or health practitioner. Image has always been one of the fundamental aspects of the nursing practice.

Patients are believed to be more welcoming to a conventional-looking nurse.

For instance, one who wears blue, purple, or white scrubs as opposed to one with piercings on the face, striking hair color, and visible neck tattoos.

Some studies have compared patients’ perceptions of nurses and doctors with and without visible body art.

Surprisingly the results indicate that patients are more focused on the care they get as opposed to the appearance of the person administering the care.

However, the idea of being presentable lies in the principles of nurses and health practitioners having to uphold a professional image during working hours.

Instances When Tattoos are Deemed Unacceptable

When the Tattoo is Large

If a tattoo covers the entirety of your arm, you may have issues in the nursing profession. The nursing industry is lenient but only to an extent.

However, while a tattoo that fully covers your arms or neck can give you problems in the workplace, some employers and hospital admins indicate that they have no issue so long as the ink is fully covered during working hours.

When the Tattoo is Offensive

Tattoos with offensive images are not acceptable in the nursing profession.

For instance, tattoos with insulting imagery such as racial slurs, nudity, or implying criminal offense or gang affiliation can be problematic in nursing practice.

If you have such tattoos, it would be best to cover them up because your colleagues and patients will consider them absurd and unprofessional.

Getting a Tattoo as a Nursing Professional

If you’re a nurse and want to get a tattoo, ensure you consult the management on the hospital policy regarding tattoos.

If your employer is okay with you getting tattoos and has no unusual requests, here is how to get a tattoo that won’t cause you problems.

Design of the Tattoo

Avoid tattoos with provocative designs. Potentially offensive tattoos, such as those with negative symbols, will most likely land you in problems at work.

Placement of the Tattoo

Avoid getting tattoos on your arm, face, and neck to prevent any visibility issues. Go for a more hidden placement that you can cover during working hours.

This way, you can avoid patients making complaints regarding your body art even if your employer is okay with it.

Size of the Tattoo

Taking into consideration the design and placement of the tattoo, go for a small tattoo if you want it to be in an exposed area.

If you want to have it in a hidden area, such as your back or chest, there’s no limit to how big you can go.

Final Thought

To sum it all up, although hospitals are aware of the decreasing stigma against tattoos, the stigma isn’t done and dusted.

Even progressive facilities such as Mayo Clinic that don’t require tattoos to be covered have restrictions on the type of tattoos that can be visible.

nursing malpractice insurance

See Also

What is DNP?

How to Get Transplant Nurse Certification

How to Deal With Rude Patients as a Nurse

Grants for Medical Professionals

Can Nurse Practitioners Prescribe?


Online DNP Programs

Florida Board of Nursing

Nurse Practitioner Salary in the US

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