What do nurses think about tattoos?

Shutterstock | Sergei Aleshin
Shutterstock | Sergei Aleshin

Historically, if you mentioned the word “tattoo” to a nurse, you might as well have drawn a line in the skin—er, sand. On one end of the spectrum, you had nurses who would like their bodies and the bodies of colleagues to remain completely untouched. On the other end of the spectrum, you had nurses who would like to cover every limb with ink and could probably recommend the best needle to get the job done.

We had an inkling that nurses may be evolving to adopt a more accepting attitude toward tats. In order to know for sure, we decided to needle the nurses on the Scrubs Mag Facebook page for their opinion and here’s what they had to say:

“I am an RN and dementia runs in my family…I personally don’t mind tattoos, so for my 65th birthday, I am going to treat myself and get two. One is going on my left lateral thigh. It will say, ‘Hadol here,’ along with a target symbol. Then on my right lateral thigh will be another symbol, but this one states, ‘Alternate sides please.'” —Laura F.

“I have 12 tattoos and I’m a nurse. As long as it’s not inappropriate, then it shouldn’t be an issue. Except for those ridiculous tattoos on the face! I absolutely hate face tattoos.” —Rasheeda H.

“I worked in [the] private sector where we had to cover up; our policy was no visible tattoos. Now I work for the VA and we do not have that policy, probably because of the population we serve; most veterans have at least one.” —Kim J.

“I would rather work with a nurse who had tattoos but was a good nurse and coworker than a nurse who had none but didn’t take good care of their patients and treated coworkers badly.” —Laura S.

“I am a nurse for the state of MN and I just got my first tattoo for my 50th birthday. Everyone at work, including my boss, loves it!” —Jodi T.

“If we start defining professionalism or base hiring standards on whether one has tattoos, then that opens up the availability for people to start judging by other superficial means; soon it will be no fat people or ugly people, etc. Come on folks, let’s grow up.” —Christina B.

“I have tattoos that can all be covered. However, I worked with a surgeon who had both arms sleeved. Did NOT affect his ability to do some fantastic work. Actually had a patient comment that he thought it was cool!” —Rob E.

“We went from a cover-up policy to a tattoos-are-okay policy as long as they are not offensive; determined by your supervisor. Not a tattoo person, but to each his own.” —Billie Jo L.

“In excess, they can be very distracting and unprofessional. As long as they are not sleeve, neck or facial tattoos, I think tattoos are fine.” —Barbie Y.

“Do! My tats do not affect my nursing skills, care or compassion. I haven’t had a patient who said anything negative about them. I find that most people are curious about them and ask what the meanings of them are. None of them are just random; they each have their own significance. I’ve got seven right now and plan on more. I even thought of getting ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ in the middle of my chest.” —Pam P.

“Be you!” —Stacey R.

Love them or hate them, tattoos are here to stay. Literally.

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5 Responses to What do nurses think about tattoos?

  1. onlyme

    What I wanted to say was, from the various quotes – above – and also our personal observation, clearly tattoos are not just a rite of passage for 18 year olds: if not already, then staff and management need to become completely realistic that there will be those at all stages of their careers who want to do it.

  2. fyrefli RN

    I had an ugly scar on my forearm so I got a pretty turtle tattoo. Lots of my LTC residents comment on how cute it is.

    • fyrefli RN

      Oops, that was supposed to be a general comment, not a reply. Sorry, Onlyme. :)

      • onlyme

        Hey, no prob, fyrefli! So was it your first that you had done?

  3. VerucaSaltRN

    The hospital I work at has a no visible tattoos policy. I have tattoos on my upper anterior forearm near my AC’s. So I have to wear long sleeves everyday. I get so hot and sweaty! I wish more hospitals were okay with visible (non-offensive) tattoos. It would really help on those days when it’s 110 degrees outside and I don’t want to wear long sleeves! :)