The healthcare facilities policies may vary from allowing nurses to display non offensive tattoos (ie: non sexual, racial, morbid or political tattoos) to being required to cover up even the smallest and least noticeable body art such as a small heart or name on the arm or wrist.
Before deciding whether or not to get a visible tattoo nurses should find out the dress code policies of the healthcare facilities they are interested in working for.
If a nurse already has a visible tattoo then it is important to determine the appropriate way to hide the tattoo if the healthcare facility requires all tattoos and piercings be hidden or removed.
In most cases tattoos are perfectly fine as long as they remain hidden.
In some facilities nurse may be able to have visible tattoos as long as they are considered non offensive by the workplace, however it is up to the workplace and their dress code policies to determine what they consider appropriate or non appropriate.
Potential issues and challenges
There are a number of issues or challenges nurses may face when it comes to having tattoos/body art.
Depending on the organization, hospital or healthcare facility they work for they may be required to hide their tattoos with long sleeved shirts, dress appropriate scrubs, makeup and/or band aids that cover up small tattoos.
The larger and more visible the tattoo is the more challenging it may be to hide them adequately.
Individuals that have neck or facial tattoos may have an even harder time keeping them hidden in the workplace, however band aids, turtlenecks and/or long hair may help.
Many healthcare facilities require nurses to maintain a professional appearance at all times which means not only wearing professional attire, but also keeping tattoos and piercings from being visible to the patients and coworkers.
It is important however to understand that the dress code policies enforced by a healthcare facility may vary from one facility to another and some locations may allow some tattoos or nose piercings to be visible assuming the healthcare facility considers them non offensive.
Piercings and other body modifications
In addition to tattoos hospital and healthcare facilities may also place strict limitations on piercings and other forms of body modification such as nose, tongue and bellybutton piercings.
Some healthcare facilities may allow nurses to wear a single tiny stud in each earlobe while others may not allow any visible piercings to show.
As with tattoos it is important to find out what is considered appropriate in the workplace.
Removal of piercings may also be required if they pose any risk to workplace safety.
Why aren’t tattoos allowed in some workplaces?
Tattoos or body art are a common and often acceptable form of expression in our society which allows individuals to communicate their personal interests, views, opinions and thoughts/ideas to the world.
People may decide to get a tattoo of someone they love or one that represents their deepest interests and feelings.
Sometimes tattoos are part of a religious passing or a cultural norm, however while these forms of body art may be loved by those who wear and see it, when it comes to the work place the presence of tattoos are often considered less acceptable, especially in highly professional organizations.
When it comes to the workplace there are a number of reasons a healthcare facility may place restrictions on tattoos.
Potential reasons for restricting tattoo visibility:
1) Tattoos may offend some patients/coworkers – Tattoos that have any potentially religious, political, racial, sexual or morbid connotations may be considered offensive by others who see the tattoos. Even if a tattoo is considered non offensive by most people there is always a chance that someone will find a tattoo offensive.
2) Equality in the workplace – Some healthcare facilities may feel that in order to be fair to all employees all tattoos should remain hidden regardless if it is a full sleeve or a tiny symbol. In these cases a healthcare facility may not want to feel that it is being unfair to any individual by allowing some to have exposed tattoos while others cannot.
3) Professional dress code – In many cases hospitals and healthcare facilities try to maintain a certain professional dress code as a way to maintain a professional image to patients, coworkers, healthcare providers and the media. The dress code may restrict employees from wearing certain clothing, piercing and/or visible tattoos that they feel would alter the professionalism of the workplace.
As mentioned previously there are healthcare facilities that may allow nurses to have visible tattoos and piercings.
Some nurses report having a dozen or more tattoos in the workplace without having any dress code issues while other nurses mention that they are able to have visible piercings as long as it isn’t excessive.
While it cannot be confirmed the type of position/role a nurse has may influence the freedom they have regarding whether or not they can have visible tattoos.
For example a nurse who works as an entrepreneur likely has much more freedom regarding tattoos and piercings as he/she is the owner of their own business.
Nurses who work in the research field or in areas where there is less direct contact with patients (ie; telephone triage) may also be able to wear more visible tattoos and piercings as they appearance may be less noticeable.
Other nurses may work directly with patients in the general field of a hospital or healthcare facility, but may be allowed to have visible tattoos because their facility is more flexible regarding what they consider acceptable attire/body art in the workplace.