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Can Nurses Have Tattoos? What You Need To Know!

In the United States today, more than 145 million Americans have tattoos while nearly 50% of the US workforce is inked. A member of your family, your next-door neighbor, a close friend, a colleague at work, and many others likely make up those statistics.

With the rising number of tattooed individuals, it’s only normal to have some of them in the nursing or healthcare profession. However, how does that affect your career opportunities as a nurse?

Tattoos in the workplace have always carried a negative reputation and with nurses, it can be seen as unprofessional. Oftentimes, that goes on to influence a nurse’s chance of getting hired or experiencing stigma while on the job.

However, that reputation is quickly changing because Generation Z and Millennials make up more than a quarter of the United State’s workforce. As a result, it’s now a question of whether employers are willing to accept them or not.

Are you looking at your inked art and wondering if the nursing profession will have space for you? Your answer lies in this article.

Can Nurses Have Tattoos? 

Yes. Nurses can have tattoos, however, there’s more to this answer. Firstly, note that there is no universal stance from nursing authorities on the topic. Secondly, the policies of the facility or center you work with may have laid down policies on tattoos

For some employers, nurses are allowed to have visible tattoos as long as they don’t contain offensive material. But other employers and facilities frown at the very thought of them. Even coworkers, patients, and their families might have underlying perceptions about nurses with tattoos.

Some policies employers put in place to keep tabs on tattoos include:

  • Covering tattoos at work, so that they’re not visible to anyone else
  • Having no tattoos above the collar area or lower arms, and hands
  • No visible tattoos when putting on scrubs
  • No provocative art, such as political and sexual explicit tattoos
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These policies are often put in place because many employers realize that present times mean nurses will likely have inks.

Are There Laws on the Matter?

A report from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) lends credence to the matter. According to them, there are no laws prohibiting employers from discriminating against candidates with visible tattoos.

However, if you’re applying to any healthcare facility as a nurse, try to find out if they have specific policies or regulations about visible tattoos. Even if you don’t sport a visible one, finding out helps you stay on the safe side.

You can do that by visiting the facility’s web page, asking a friend that works there, or reading reviews about their policies and services. That aside, you’ll struggle to find any strict law enforceable on nurses and other health experts sporting tattoos. Also, rules and regulations differ. You won’t see a universally accepted rule adopted either by states or similar facilities.

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Nurses Having Tattoos: Pros

There’s almost always a good and bad side to everything out there, and tattoos are no different. Here are some positives:

Can build stress-free communication

Sometimes, your tattoo can draw attention and then questions from onlookers. For example, you walk up to a patient and have to do some routine checks on them. Your scrubs pull up a bit and expose some ink on your biceps. That patient may get curious about the tattoo and proceed to ask you why you have it, or the back story.

That can set up a productive conversation with patients, especially if they were quiet until the moment your tattoo was visible. Aside from enhancing quality conversations, tattoos can also help build strong connections between patients and nurses.

For example, pediatric patients are often engaging and will welcome positive distractions to their current state. You can take advantage of such moments to optimize your care for all your patients.

Positive connections are necessary and an important part of the nursing profession. It makes the job easier and more impactful.

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Nurses Having Tattoos: Cons 

On the flip side, there are cons to nurses having tattoos. They include:

The stigma still exists

society wrongly blaming victim

Many studies have shown that people with tattoos are often perceived negatively. More than that, many people have formed opinions about people with a tattoo without haven spoken to them. That’s because a tattoo is assumed to be the strict personality of the person wearing them. Nurses are not exempt from this stigma even though they’re caring, intelligent, and professional.

As a nurse, prepare to have this misconception thrown at you more than a couple of times.

Issues with career development

You’d want to maintain a healthy progression in your nursing career. In some cases, having a tattoo can be stalling, especially with employer policies that are unfavorable to nurses.

Some facilities can deny you a promotion and if you have a dream specialist position in mind, your road there may be difficult. But if your tattoos are always covered during work hours, you won’t have to worry.

Patients and co-workers might disapprove

Having tattoos on your body can be complicated for those looking at it. While you mean well, some patients and co-workers might develop issues with your presence. If your tattoo is likely to draw disapproval, consider covering it up or even getting rid of it.

As much as you love your ink, losing your job is non-negotiable unless you have a backup plan for another position. Patients and their families might also think you’re unprofessional. Where explanations fail, it’s best to keep your tattoos to yourself.

Always consider the people you serve and work for before getting tattoos or flaunting them. For example, research shows that young adults and teenage patients are more likely to be open about tattoos compared to their senior counterparts.

Can you be Denied a Nursing Job because of Your Tattoos?

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, employers can set their own dress codes and standards. However, the codes and standards should not discriminate based on race, religion, sex, or disability grounds.

That means it’s legal for employers to have a no-tattoo policy with regard to their staff. Further, they can deny you employment if your tattoo violates their policies.

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If the medical facility you work in has a no-tattoo policy, consider the following tips:

  • Use sleeves: Some medical facilities may be lenient enough to let you keep your tattoos with a no-visible tattoos policy. Getting some sleeves to cover your tattoos is the logical thing to do. If the tattoo is small and on an area like your wrist, a bracelet or watch can cover it.
  • Remove it: If you don’t have so much attachment to the tattoo, consider getting rid of it. Choosing a tattoo over your job security and progression doesn’t sound right.
  • Get a new job: It’s not easy to come across a new job, but you can get lucky with the growing demand for nursing professionals. Make sure your new workplace has no problems with you having tattoos.


So can nurses have tattoos? The answer remains yes! Nurses can have tattoos, including visible ones. However, some medical facilities may require you to cover them or remove them completely.

That’s because employers can dictate how you appear in the workplace and the interactions you have with patients. In addition, many hospitals see tattoos as unprofessional and offensive.

You may lose a job opportunity or promotion sporting inks on visible parts of your body. Now that you know this information, you can consider covering your tattoos, or removing them. The policies in your workplace will help you make the best choice.

About Martin Vernon

A lifelong learner, educator, and advocate for education as a means for individual and social change. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a great day!

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