Break Room

Can Nurses Have Tattoos?


With seemingly every other person sporting some type of ink these days, it’s clear that tattoos are becoming increasingly popular in the United States. In fact, according to this poll conducted in 2015, roughly three in ten Americans have one or more tattoos. As tattoos continue to gain popularity, they gain social acceptance as well. In certain professions, however, tattoos are still frowned upon by employers. Nursing, for the most part, is not one of them.
Nurse Mendoza

If you have tattoos and want to work as a nurse, you’ll be pleased to learn that the nursing profession as a whole is fairly accepting of body art. For many nurses, having tattoos is a non-issue at work. Nurses with easily concealable tattoos, for instance, don’t need to worry about patients or supervisors making judgements based on their body art. Even nurses with difficult-to-hide tattoos run into few work-related problems as long as their tattoos aren’t excessively large or explicit. However, tattoos can be a problem in the nursing field in certain circumstances. Here are a few of them:

Large Tattoos

Large tattoos, or a large number of tattoos, can be a problem when it comes to nursing. While this isn’t true for all employers, some facilities do require their nurses’ tattoos to be hidden while on duty. If you have tattoos that cover your arms or neck, keeping them out of sight isn’t always going to be easy. Employers with strict dress codes are aware of this, and many of them simply won’t give you a chance if they notice large tattoos during the interview process.

Employer Policy

Nurses have, for the most part, some leeway when it comes to visible tattoos, but this isn’t always the case. Some employers’ tattoo policies are stricter than others. For instance, there are still facilities out there that do not allow their nurses to have visible tattoos or body piercings of any kind. If you have tattoos in hard-to-cover locations, like your hands or neck, there’s a good chance you’ll have trouble meeting some potential employers’ dress-code policies.

Offensive Tattoos

Innocuous tattoos, like hearts and names, are probably not going to be an issue for most employers. Tattoos that could be considered offensive, on the other hand, might make it harder to find and keep a nursing job. To be on the safe side, tattoos that display nudity, promote drug use, or can be associated with prison or gang culture are best left out of sight while working in any nursing capacity!


Now, if you think you might run into one of the issues mentioned above, don’t panic! The following ideas should help you handle most of the problems you’d encounter working as a nurse with tattoos:

Cover-Up Strategies

The easiest way to deal with tattoo-related issues while working as a nurse is to simply avoid them altogether. If your current employer’s tattoo policy is fairly strict, simply keep your tattoos out of sight while at work. Long-sleeve shirts can be used to cover tattoos on the arms in most cases. Alternatively, skin-tone sleeves can be used to cover arm and leg tattoos without wearing an additional layer of clothing, which is great for the spring and summer months. For tattoos on the face and neck, try keeping your hair down to keep them out of sight. If that won’t work, there are special concealers that can be used to hide tattoos quite well.

Job-Hunting Tips

If you don’t want to hide your tattoos on a daily basis, you might want to consider working somewhere that is a little more accepting of body art. While you could ask about tattoo policies during the interview process, a better strategy would be to look these policies up beforehand. Most hospitals and large-scale organizations have copies of their dress-code policies posted online. With a copy of a potential employer’s dress-code policy in hand, you’ll know exactly what to expect. If you can’t find dress-code policies online, consider asking someone (preferably a friend) who works at the facility for more information.

Tattoo Removal

As a last resort, you might want to consider having your tattoo removed. If your tattoo is hurting your employment opportunities, or if you’ve wanted to remove it regardless, now might be the time to get rid of it. Unfortunately, having a tattoo removed is not quick or cheap. Typically, to achieve optimal results, it’s necessary to receive 6–12 treatments, which usually cost hundreds of dollars each.


What do you think about nurses who work with visible tattoos? Should health-care facilities allow their employees to display their body art while on the job? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts!

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