Too tattooed to be a nurse?

Image: Goodshot | Thinkstock

Celebrities have them, neighbors have them, family and friends have them. But should nurses?

Yes, tattoos have become so mainstream they can be found just about everywhere. There are television shows about tattoo artists and tattoo conventions held all over the world. But the ubiquity of tattoos doesn’t mean they’re okay for everyone, and hospitals and other healthcare settings often have different guidelines about whether they’re acceptable.

Nursing School and Tattoos

Students who enter nursing school may very likely be told they can’t have visible tattoos. For instance, in most schools it’s standard policy that tattoos on the forearm must be covered with sleeves, and those on the hand, wrist, neck or face must be covered in some way.

The nursing student dress code at Missouri Southern State University stipulates as of November 2009 that tattoos are only permitted if they cannot be seen while the students are in uniform. Students may not cover up their tattoos with bandages, nor should tattoos be visible under short-sleeve scrubs. The administration’s position is that they are preparing student nurses for what they may face when looking for work as graduate nurses.

But tatted nursing students, don’t despair. While MSSU’s policy isn’t out of line with other universities, it does seem to be stricter. Student nurses at Pittsburg State University (Kansas), Crowder College and St. John’s Regional Medical Center must cover their tattoos, but they are not restricted to only covering with their short-sleeved scrubs. Bandages are permitted.

A final note about tattoos and nursing schools: Not only should you check the policies from school to school, but also be wary of policies that can vary between the nursing school and the clinical facilities the school uses. For instance, a student may be in accordance with the dress code at her nursing school, but may find that the facility for her clinical experience has its own set of policies that are completely different.

Hospitals and Tattoos

The acceptance of tattoos on a hospital nursing staff varies by facility. A short stroll through online nursing forums will show stories of nurses with visible full sleeves (tattoos covering a whole arm) or just a few visible tattoos treating patients. But in other facilities, visible tattoos are never seen on the nurses.

A facility’s stand on visible tattoos can usually be found in its dress code policy. Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s dress code for nurses clearly prohibits the following: “Visible or gross tattooing on face, neck, arms or hands; tattoos 1 inch in size—graphic/disturbing, e.g., displaying violence, drugs, sex, alcohol, tobacco products.” However, there is also a note stating that some departments may have stricter dress code requirements. Bottom line: The best thing to do when you arrive at a new job or have acquired a new tattoo is to ask your department about its specific policy regarding your body art.

Armed Services and Tattoos

Think that becoming a nurse in the armed forces will get you off the hook? Not necessarily. The words “Navy” and “tattoo” used to go hand in hand, but the face of the armed forces is changing, as is the art of tattooing. Not surprisingly, the armed services have their own rules about what is acceptable. An inside source in the Navy explained to me that visible tattoos can have a strong impact on your movement up the Navy ranks. In fact, in some, if you have tattoos on certain parts of the body, you’ll need a waiver to be promoted.

These include:

  • Above a crewneck collar
  • On the throat or neck
  • On the face or scalp

Any tattoos on the visible part of your arm are subject to certain conditions. They cannot be:

  • Bigger than the width of your hand, and the length from fingertip to base of the palm
  • Racist or sexually explicit
  • Encourage or advocate discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, ethnicity or national origin
  • Symbols of gangs or supremacist or extremist groups

And finally, any tattoos elsewhere on the body must not be visible through the fabric of white uniforms.

What do you think about tattoos? Do you have any? There are still administrators who don’t like the idea of tattoos as they feel body art doesn’t look professional. Also, keep in mind that not all cultures are accepting of tattoos, particularly on women. If you’re working in a very conservative area or in a multicultural one where tattoos may be an issue, does this change your opinion on whether a facility may dictate if you have tattoos?


, ,

Marijke Durning

Marijke is a professional writer who began her working career as a registered nurse over 25 years ago. After working in clinical areas ranging from rehab to intensive care, as a floor nurse to a supervisor, she found she could combine her extensive health knowledge with her love of writing. Although she has been published in a wide variety of publications for professionals and the general public, her passion is writing for the every day person to promote health literacy.

Post a Comment

You must or register to post a comment.

43 Responses to Too tattooed to be a nurse?

  1. that would be discrimination!!

  2. Thank you for bringing such a current issue to the table. I am a conservative nurse, who has an assortment of artwork on various parts of my person. It has been the topic of many heated conversations however I have discovered my tattoos have been even more so, a common thread for my patients and myself removing a barrier and encouraging a therapeutic relationship. Patients identify with my tattoos, especially when they hear my reasoning. I don’t have filth or horrible things all over me, but examples of times in my life I want to remember. They appreciate my presence more knowing that not only education, but experience has created for them a balanced level headed nurse with sound principles and ethics. My tattoos create a barrier to some I agree, but I knew that prior to getting them. They guard me from people who judge me based on the concept, rather then getting to know me. My gain, their loss. I am not the stepford nurse, I am a real nurse, with real experiences, who will care for you like a real person. :-)

    • Amy RN

      Thank you, Wendy! I totally agree with everything you have said. I, like you, having tattoos that represent the journey I have taken to get to where I am today; I stand ever ready to explain my tattoos to anyone who wants to know about them, not to defend them, but to explain why they mean so much to me. I currently work as a nurse in a medium size mens correctional facility, and do find that it makes me more “real” and approachable to the population there. That being said, I don’t intend to be a prison nurse all for the rest of my career, and realize that other facilites may be less forgiving.
      Historically, nursing has been very slow to embrace and accept change. Look how long it has taken for electronic technology to become a daily part of the work environment for most areas of nursing; and printed and colorful scrubs have only become acceptable within the last two decades. Although I have a strong respect for the “whites” and what they represent, nurses have come a long way from the “bed pan emptiers” of our grandmother and great-grandmother’s era, and I think we need to continue to fight to be seen as individuals as much as our patients are.

    • onlyme

      Yes, yes, Wendy! I, too, agree that you’ve expressed it well. The real people that are real nurses these days are likely tattooed, and although you certainly don’t need to get tattoos to be either a real nurse or a good nurse, yet particularly in a nursing environment it removes a barrier and encourages a therapeutic relationship and expresses the real you. As others have commented, well said!

  3. Nora

    Thank you, Wendy. I could not have said it better myself. I am a 61 yo registered nurse who happens to have tattoos. And I too, see them as an ice breaker with my patients.
    I also have an eyebrow ring. Only one hospital in all my travel experience made me cover it. The cute little bandades were more noticeble than the ring.

    • onlyme

      I see that you agree with Wendy, too, Nora. Obviously it would be wrong to say that all nurses are, or ought to be, tattooed. But also it’s really obvious that for a long while now it’s something that so many nurses want to do and expect to do, and like you say it’s an ice breaker, too, isn’t it?

  4. Rick

    discrimination? yes. wrongful? no. unless it violates the law, employers can, and should, discriminate between what is appropriate for their facility and what is not. The word “discrimination” gets a bad rap because it sounds politically incorrect. But we all discriminate every day. It’s just a matter of what is appropriate or INappropriate types of discrimination. Unfortunately our society tends to think more self-centeredly generation after generation. But the act of “expressing oneself” is not, and should not be, the priority for a nursing professional. Clients’ needs come before a nurse’s desire to display his/her individuality to all the world. That is a core aspect of this selfless calling we embrace as nurses.

  5. Alena

    I am a nursing student. I do not have the experience that you have had so far, but I hope to get there. I have piercings and tattoos. Nothing distasteful whatsoever. According to my school policy, I am not allowed to have the piercings and the tattoos must be covered by band-aides. When I am at my clinical locations, the holes in my face are still visible despite all efforts to cover them. Over half of the patients and the staff that have noticed them have asked me about them with what appears to be genuine curiosity, and all have told me that they don’t agree with the fact that I have to take them out as the holes are far more unsightly than a small gem would be. As far as the tattoos go, the band-aides stand out far more than the tattoos do as well.
    In my personal life, I have faced much discrimination based solely on my body modifications. I recently visited a very small southern town where I was left feeling like a freak by the way I was being stared at. I even had a few mothers herd their children to the opposite side of a corridor to get as far away from me as possible. I do think that it is important for hospitals to take their patient demographics into consideration first. There is no way I would be able to be an effective nurse in the small town I just described because I would scare most of the patients. In my hometown, however, I feel as though it would not be inappropriate to leave them visible.
    There is always the issue of those people that like to push the envelope as well. If it states that some tattoos are allowed there will be those few people that will walk around with their garish tattoos and proclaim their “right” to display them.
    You have to sacrifice the few for the money.. I mean many.

  6. PJ

    I have been a Nurse for 30 years and see nothing wrong with tattoos as long as they are tasteful….I have them and am considering getting another one. my tats have nothing to do with my abilities as a nurse. Big Brother is getting too big for his britches !! Oh…BTW : I still smoke cigarettes also….
    I go to work very clean and uniform pressed…hair and makeup fixed very nice. I rarely call off and have been late getting to work 6 times in 30 years. My work performance evaluations are ALWAYS good….so why does it matter if I have tattoos and smoke …I am a Registered Nurse…I love my work….and I do have a life other than Nursing.

  7. Teri

    When I work at a place that makes me cover my tattoos, the residents always want to know why. They would rather look at the artwork than the bandages.

  8. stacie meade

    I am a medical assistant student, and our school policy is that tattoos can not be visible, and body jewlery is not allowed. I have a total of six tats and a nose ring. Working at a care facility in the passed a lot of my male residents had tattoos… most being all military veterans, they enjoyed the stories behind my tattoos…I have nothing vulgar or offinsive, it makes you who you are…my mother worked in the medical field for many years, and she never had to cover her tattoos…It is up to the facility where you work and up to the school, its policy…It doesn’t make me any less of a person because I have them, it makes me….me :)

  9. I have been a nurse for 17 years and I have 2 tattoos. The first is on my left ankle, it’s a winged dragon with a nurse cap and a syringe it has my nickname under it. The second is on my just above my left breast, it is a Breast Cancer ribbon with ivy and the viking runes that say self warrior stong protector. Both are one seen when I am off duty. I will show my ribbon to a breast cancer patient so that they know I DO understand how they feel. Besides both of my tattoos have a story behind them and can be a good icebreaker.

  10. Becky

    i have been a critical care nurse for 19 years and have aquired multiple tattoos over these years, i believe they are becomming more accepted in our profession. the tattoos i have gotten are very beautiful, colorful tattoos but are also in places that are easy to cover. i have never been denied a job due to them.

    • onlyme

      Becky: Well, you are one among very many who have had it done. And who keep on having it done.

  11. StudentRN

    I’ve worked at retail stores that wouldn’t allow me to wear my nose ring and/or show my tattoos. The tattoos I have now would all be covered by scrubs, but I’m hoping that by the time I become a nurse I will not have to worry about future tattoo placement. As long as tattoos are not offensive I don’t think you should have to cover them.

  12. Nanci Nix

    I have a tatoo on my left ankle signifying my daughter’s birth and yes as of October 1, 2010 I will have to cover it when I come to work. I work as a nurse educator so yes, there are times I will have to wear a bandage on my ankle. Many years ago I had a patient ask me, because of my short hair, how many piercings I had. Both my ears had one hole. When I told her she was shocked because I had short hair she said people like me usually ahd multiple piercings. SHORT HAIR? We will always be discriminated for something

  13. Leslie Tighe

    so discriminatory! Are we going backwards in time?
    What does having a tattoo have to do with your skills as a Nurse? If this is not considered professional, let us review the definition of profession……

  14. Holly

    Mine are hidden by scrubs, but seen off-duty. My ankle tat is occasionally seen above my socks, but again, it is an excellent icebreaker. For professional reasons, I don’t put them on my arms, neck or hands. I would hate that they might cost me a promotion one day. I was interviewed by an older nurse a while back, and as soon as her eyes shot to my tasteful ankle tattoo (small fleur-de-lis) she pretty much wrote me off.

  15. David

    As a nurse for 31 years I myself do not have any body art on my self,but I did work with a nurse that had body art everywhere on her body. She did not have body art where it could be seen.

  16. Hope

    I became a nurse after 11 years as a graphic artist (artist and tattoos go hand in hand I must say ;). I’ve done the best I can to keep all of my artwork hidden, but that’s more because of where I choose to get the tattoos than anything else. I do have a large tattoo of a geisha on my left arm that my scrub sleeves cover most of. My hospital wants the artwork covered and all that jazz; and I do a pretty good job, but I was amazed at what an icebreaker it was for my patients, both pro and con! Many a conversation has been started over my geisha. :)

    I don’t mind having to have them covered up and I do my best with it. It does limit my scrub top choices and that makes me “sad” because I love wild and crazy colors and styles and with my artwork on shoulder/back and arm some of the more interesting tops are off limits.

    However, think on this…tattooed skin is damaged skin. It’s thinner, more delicate, scarred, etc. That makes it a potential portal of entry for pathogens. In the hospital setting, keeping what you can covered and out of contact during patient care is ultimately prudent.

    Did I just sound like a mature grownup? Ack! Must go get some more tattoos to proclaim my independence from mainstream society and rebel against the masses! :)

  17. Karen

    Women have beautiful skin. There are so many other ways to signify a memorable event or moment in life without having to permanently scar one’s flesh. Nothing is more sad to me than seeing a beautiful young lady who has chosen to to do this to herself. What a waste of money! In special events like weddings what stands out most are the tatoos!! Most are unattractive, tacky, and some horrific. Conversations will start regardless if a person has a tattoo or not. There are some professions that tattoos should not be allowed. For example: Medical professionals for safety / health reasons. In law enforcement it a definite marker / attention getter when anonymity is critical.

  18. Steve

    All of my tats can be covered with a t-shirt, which I need to wear under my scrubs to be in compliance with my school’s dress code policy, since I have one tattoo that comes up to the top of my sternum. I also have to remove the 3/4″ plugs from my ears.

    I don’t have a problem with facilities having policies regarding body mods- though I also have not found my stretched lobes or tattoos to be much of a boundary for me when connecting with residents and their family members at the assisted living facilities where I’ve worked as a med-aide.

    Also, Hope’s claim on 7/20/10 9:12am that tattooed skin is a potential portal for infection sounds completely erroneous- except in the case of a brand new tattoo. I’m having a difficult time understanding where she got that idea, especially considering that she said she has tattoos herself.

    I have never seen tattooed skin that is thinner or more delicate than the surrounding non-inked skin, and have never seen noticeable scarring caused by a tattoo except where the scars were created on-purpose or where the tattoo was created by an amateur. Nor have I heard of a person getting an infection in a tattoo that has already healed (except when a new trauma such as a cut opens up a new portal for infection). Once the skin has healed after a tattoo has been applied, it is very much IN TACT.

  19. Kristofferson C. Dulay

    i just had a tattoo on my left arm which is a three stars and a sun with a 4 chinese character sorrounding it.having a tattoo doesn’t mean it will affect on giving care to our patients but as frontliners in a medical feild we should take consider that we should hide those tattoos……and i’m planning to have a few more tattoos……

  20. Hank

    Tattoo’s say, “I let a semi-stranger draw on my skin permantly.” That’s real reassuring that you make sound judgments. IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU – You are representing a company, i’d support termination and support of the dress code to get you all fired.

  21. Nancy

    I see both sides to the “argument.” I have recently joined the nursing community as a second career; my first was a teacher where they had similar restrictions to body art. While I agree that tattoos or piercings have nothing to do with your proficiency as a nurse (or anything else for that matter), some people are just put off by them. It really has little to do with what the design is (tasteful is in the eye of the beholder), rather just having these modifications carries a bit of a negative connotation – rebellious, irresponsible…whatever.
    My nursing school, like others that were mentioned, had a dress code that specified no visible tattoos, only one pair of earrings in each ear and no facial jewelry/tongue piercings. Their argument is that it is distracting, gives the wrong impression and can offend people. While all types of body modifications are more mainstream, there are still people with different beliefs, cultures or whatever that judge you by these things (others form opinions based on shoes ) I am not saying it’s right, but it still happens and employers are entitled to control aspects of your appearance and grooming from how you wear your hair, make-up, shaving, to even your weight. I think that those of you in home care settings may have more latitude and you know your patients and can make decisions accordingly. In a hospital setting, with the wide variety of potential patients I think it’s easier to be “neutral.”
    I have had patients ask not to be treated by “the one with the scary tattoos.” I personally wouldn’t want something to stand in the way of treating my patients (building trust and rapport) or my career so this isn’t an issue for me – no visible tattoos and no plans on getting one.
    For those that are using bandages to cover their tattoos, have you thought about that camouflage makeup – it is amazing. My brother’s wife hid her ankle tattoo from her parents for years and had to cover it for a secretary job and hostess job she had (go figure) and used this stuff – it works great and I think is better than the bandage thing (a couple that she has used are Dermablend and Tattoo Camo – I am sure there are others (and a little goes a long way). So the debate goes on…good luck…

  22. krystal

    I was hospitalized at Vanderbuilt for 3 months. While in the hospital I seen many nurses with tattoos on their body, even on their rists. I have many tattoos; so knowing it was possible to have them encouraged me more to become a nurse. I hope there’s no problem cause if there’s something I love to do is helping others just like the doctors and nurses helped me.

  23. Tia

    I personally do not have tattoos and I think they are unprofessional looking on nurses, esp female nurses. theres just some element of trashiness that goes along with tattoos-always has since the beginning of time. if you are a biker or bar hop then do your thing, but I wouldnt feel comfortable having a nurse with tattoos everythwere. Truth is-we are judged by appearance whether we like it or not. just keepin it real. :-)

  24. Bub

    You people that are saying it’s unprofessional are generally the idiots who want everyone to be the same. Annoying comments that bash on a person for receiving a tattoo and support terminating said people must leave a bad taste in the mouth. You people make the field disgusting; such as why I would rather take vitamins and rest than to see such discriminative jerks.

  25. Stephanie

    I am a highly tattooed Registered Nurse and Certified Emergency Nurse, I work in a busy ED and I am required to cover my tattoos as well. I have a full back piece which extends down one shoulder and down the other upper arm. I also have a tattooed wedding band which I was told by administration I need to cover with a ring. However management in my department doesn’t have a problem with the ring tattoo so I don’t cover that. I have had many compliments on my ring and have been asked by patients about my other tattoos. I chose to tattoo my ring because I love tattoos and because I felt it was better than wearing a ring which can harbor germs. I have also had situations where my engagement ring has cut holes in gloves, so for me it was a given to tattoo my ring. My tattoos are tasteful and I have never heard anyone say anything about them aside from how nice they are. Never have I been told by patients or staff that they are offended by my visible ring tattoo. What bothers me is that people can wear low cut tops, tight pants with thongs hanging out, white pants with black lace undies, and scrub tops that have sponge bob on it but I have to cover my tasteful tattoos. I am offended by some of the ridiculous scrubs people think are cute…. but thats ok right? We are told we need to be culturally sensitive well…my culture involves tattoos so where is the sensitivity? Other nurses can wear things such as pentagram necklaces but according to policy my tattooed wedding band must be covered. For me my wedding band is a religious symbol, but I need to hide it while someone else displays other symbols without any problem. I am not saying that I should be able to wear a tube top to show off my back but I shouldn’t have to go out of my way or discriminated against because of my tattoos. Just sayin….

  26. Nel

    ” Unfortunately our society tends to think more self-centeredly generation after generation. But the act of “expressing oneself” is not, and should not be, the priority for a nursing professional. Clients’ needs come before a nurse’s desire to display his/her individuality to all the world. That is a core aspect of this selfless calling we embrace as nurses.”

    just replying to this thread above. This is a very unintelligent and ignorant thing to say about “body art” and “tattoos” like they have some sort of stigma. As if somehow you don’t care about your patients because you love body art and how it makes you look. I have been a Registered Nurse for a year now,I also have a BSN and was a nurses aide for five years prior to this-I have almost my whole body tattooed ( i wear a turtleneck at work) and the only visible tattoos i have are on my knuckles. I don’t see how this makes me inconsiderate to my patients concerns. To tell you the truth there is tons of nurses out there that don’t care about patients at all, and it has nothing to do with if they have a tattoo or not . Tattoos don’t make you trashy or inconsiderate, having the attitude that all tattooed people are this way is disgusting, and i’d never want any of you to be my nurse. You know we are individuals too. Do you dye your hair? Or pierce your ears? What if I hated you for that- these sort of thoughts are almost racist. What are we another race? How can you say that my love for my patients is not real because i enjoy body art? I feel patients do not care at all because they know I deeply care for them, and a knuckle tattoo is not going to make them turn me away in their time of need. That is so ignorant, and the fact that many of you posting agree with this sort of statement is very, very sad- and all that ethics you learned in school (ethics that should just be part of your life because you are a nurse) just went right out the window. Do you think tattooed patients are trashy and distasteful too? How do you treat them? I find these statements so contradictory from a group of people who are supposed to be caring and accepting. It makes me sick. Do you think that tattooed nurses can’t think? Can’t make decisions? Can’t be part of the healthcare team? You know what matters in patient care- your desire to care for your patients and your knowledge- not tattoos. That’s foolish. It’s 2011 people, time to realize that these things do not affect how you do their job. Underneath it all we are all people, we are all the same living breathing flesh.

  27. jess

    K Im planning to be a nurse when I’m older and to have tattoos I see them as a way to show you self not as trashy slut thingy but ya I get it if its like some nude biker chick smoking on your arm or something but if its something tasteful n not almost scary does it matter really? Its not ppls place to judge, I just hope when I’m make it up there to a nurse this crap won’t be happening cause its kinda stupid

  28. Chrissy

    I recently entered an RN program at my community college. The college has a no visible tattoo policy. I have two tattoos on my wrist and I showed them to the head of the nursing department during orientation. I was nervous about showing them to her because of the no visible tattoo policy, but felt I should let her know about them in case there was a problem.She told me to cover the one up with a watch band and cover the other one with Dermablend, since other students with tattoos have used it in the past. I paid my $1500 tuition, spent $1000 on books and another $500 on various supplies/vaccinations. I have also spent thousands on my pre-req’s to get into the program.
    Well, guess what? There is no such thing as soap-proof make-up and I wasn’t given an option to use anything else to cover the tattoos. I wasn’t allowed to use anything but make-up to cover my tattoos. I had to drop out after a month in to the program.
    I was an excellent student and a very caring person, but because of people’s outdated views on tattoos I was forced to give up on my dream of nursing for now. I’m thinking of getting the tattoos removed when I have the $1500+ to get the procedure done.

    • NewRN RN

      I am an older nurse with no tattoos. I don’t see anything wrong with them, just not my thing. Some are really interesting. I don’t see a problem with them as long as they are covered. I don’t think nurses need to have them on their faces or all over their arms or necks. It does come to a point where it does look sloppy. We’re in a field that is sterile. We need to look that way. Tattoos don’t effect job performance but abiding by rules does and does have something to say about the person. If students are told not to get tattoos that show and still do, it says something about that person and how they will respect authority and how well they will follow directions at other times.

  29. Tattoos have nothing to do with job performance and it’s really unfair to label those with tattoos as “unprofessional” or “trashy” – With almost half of the U.S population having at least 1 tattoo, employers might need to reconsider their tattoo polices, soon they will have a difficult time finding someone without a tattoo.

    For those that have ink and are looking for an easy cover-up solution besides makeup, check out tattoo cover sleeves sold by tat2x – they are really comfortable and are even sold in Pink just for us nurses. They look great under scrubs.

    • Jodell RN

      Wow, in Pueblo, Colorado, if they got rid of all the tattooed nurses and staff, all you would hear is crickets…

  30. mamajo RN

    Those that believe tats are trashy need to look deep into their hearts and decide…good nurse with tats or bad nurse without…not really that much to think about! I have been in nursing in one form or another for 40 of my 54 years. I have 5 tats. Except for the butterfly on my ankle no one can see them. I am an excellent nurse, a BSN with a few master’s courses under my belt.
    I have one tat left to get…a memorial to my son who died in Iraq for your freedom to run your mouths and decide what is right for others. After reading this whole stream I have decided it will be on my forearm and damn anyone who doesn’t like it!!!! Nuff said here!

  31. heather_mathews Student

    I left nursing for a while and joined a band. Got a tattoo around each wrist. Didn’t work out (although I married the drummer/founder later) and have found more discrimination for my bandana (told to remove it several times although I explained it was to cover the permanent bald spots from the trichotillomania I’ve had since age 9 and the problems I experienced with wigs). I have been insulted by people who assumed I was mentally retarded or had Down’s Syndrome (I have such features that I understand the reason why they would think that.) I have been told at a casino I was working at that I was too fat and ugly to work as a beverage server and that I should stay hidden away in the back (I was interviewing for a change of position- and I was a muscular 120 lbs at the time.) But I never had a problem with the tattoos.

  32. tcb

    I have to say that I am floored by some of these responses. I am currently a Lpn and will be going back to get my RN next year. I am heavily tattooed and am saddened that so many nurses out there feel the need to look down on others in the same field. I thought that we were all suppose to be working together for the common good of patients, not bickering amongst each other because of the artwork we choose ( or not choose) to put on our body.
    Granted, in nursing school I had to cover up all of my work, and although I didn’t agree, I knew it was just for the time being until I graduated.
    Once I graduated and passed my NCLEX I was offered several positions because people saw me for the awesome nurse I am and not for the artwork that adorns my body.
    The few places that did not like my artwork were places that I decided that I did not want to work anyway because even though I choose to cover up most of my work because I am there for the patient and not to talk about my work, if its hot and I need to push up my sleeves then I sure as hell am going to.
    Oh and btw… During nursing school I was the student representative and valedictorian so please don’t think that all people with tattoos are trashy and stupid…

  33. peace2all

    I have no problem with tasteful body art but find handguns on the neck or pot leaves on the hand to be out of line for a professional position. One should consider the message you are sending with your art. If it is not professional then simply have it in an area your scrubs will cover.

  34. onlyme

    I guess the very question of the title seems to challenge what is a basic fact. It’s rather like asking: “Is the pope Catholic?” or “Is it true that Detroit builds automobiles?” or “Does Billy Graham read the Bible?” or “Are there any lobbyists in Washington, DC?” It’s a basic fact that nurses and other healthcare workers tend to be tattooed (with plenty of exceptions); it’s a deeply established tendency (though obviously not a ‘requirement’!) for so many nurses and hospital workers to do it whether as an expression of their basic adulthood or in some way of their experience of life. It’s unrealistic to think otherwise, even though covering tattoos can sometimes be an option.

  35. josefkainrad

    Navy allows hand tattoos as of spring 2016. You have to get a waiver but that’s not hard.

    I didnt enlist but I was approved last year, with hand tattoos and pretty much everything but my head and neck tattood.

  36. erocknurse

    If my patient is THAT worried about my tattoos then they aren’t sick enough to be in my ER. Tattoos are extremely personal and I will NOT cover the one representing my dead daughter period. My ink does not affect my skills and often times it has become a great ice breaker and a way to put my patients at ease actually. Tattoos aren’t about prison and gangs anymore. I have some truly awesome art on my body. One of them my other daughter drew for me! I am honored to have my child’s art work a permanent part of me and my work can find another experienced nurse such as myself if they do not like it. But so far, nothing has been said.