Appearance? - page 2

by TheBerriGirl 4,184 Views | 28 Comments

So I'm just wondering... I'm starting nursing school on the 7th at Nova Southeastern University in FL and I wanted to know any thoughts about what a nurse "should" look like. I don't even know if that makes sense lol. I'm all... Read More


  1. 14
    As a heavily tattooed, former punk rocker (and always will be in my heart) who is now approaching 40 with 6 years of RN experience under my belt, let me tell ya: you CAN retain your wild child identity and still have a good career and sound reputation. You CAN balance the two.

    The key is that when you are serving others in your professional role as a nurse, it is OTHER'S needs that come before YOUR need for self-expression. PERIOD. Understanding that idea is a hallmark of maturity and professionalism.

    if your employers' need is that you cover tattoos and have halfway normal hair on the clock, that's what you gotta do. If looking more conventional is what makes your patients more comfortable, DO IT. You can spike up a 'Hawk, expose your ink and wear your piercings on your OWN time.
    Fly your freak flag OFF the clock. Simple as that.

    I still dye my hair a deep, jet-vinyl bluish black and it's cut in a way that allows me to pull it into a simple ponytail or style a bob for work, OR shellac it into a spiky Goth thing for not-at-work. The color is still punk, but not so punk it's gonna freak people out. I wear TatJackets to cover my ink and leave my fun, crazy cateye makeup for outside of work.

    It's just a matter of making mature, professional choices that come from a place of respect for others and need for a decent paycheck!
    NevadaFighter, JBudd, elkpark, and 11 others like this.
  2. 1
    I got rid of my pink and purple hair a long time ago, so that has not been an issue for me. I have a pretty good sized tattoo on the ventral side of my left forearm, approximately 6" by 8", and another one one about half that size on the right. I was required to wear a long sleeved white shirt under my scrubs for CNA clinicals, but as an employee now in the same facility, I don't have to cover them. I have not been required to cover them for clinicals for the RN program so far, but another student was because his were considered "offensive" and mine were not. Basically, he had a bunch of skulls and spiderwebs, and mine are floral themed, so he had to wear a long-sleeved white t-shirt underneath. For us, it depends on the policy of the facility we are going to for clinicals. I was worried that my tats might be an obstacle, but so far, it has not been an issue at all in any of the facilites I have been at as an aide or student.

    However, that being said, I do see the necessity for a conservative appearance in health care. When I'm working, I'm there to care for people who need my help, not to make a personal statement. This is especially important when you are working with confused patients who may not even realize they are in a healthcare facility. Our school has a very strict dress code for clinicals, which includes no jewelry except a wedding band and stud earrings, hair off the face and off the collar, white undergarments, completely white shoes, etc. I think this is pretty standard.
    Spidey's mom likes this.
  3. 5
    Many people have a knee-jerk reaction to being told they can't express their inner freak (and mine has been active for longer than most of the people on this board have been on the planet, so don't start with me on that )-- you know the type, "If I want to have eleven facial piercings/deeply significant tattoo designs/hot pink hair/cross dress/ whatever (no, I am NOT conflating all those.. chill out, I do know the difference) then I should have the right to express my individuality and it's UNFAIR not to let me be in clinical with them because I can't pass nursing school without clinical and we are supposed to be sensitive to human needs for expression and why can't they let me be ME ....etc., etc., etc. ... "

    Well, mclennan (above) has totally beat me to it for why. (nicely put, dear) The only thing I have to add is that if you want to be taken seriously as a professional, you have to look what the people who will be making those decisions think looks like a professional. (IMHO, this also extends to nurses wearing scrubs that look like they're going to a middle school sleepover. Want to be taken seriously? Seriously?)

    You do not have to do it. You do not have to be a nurse, either. So. If I can have my ink not show in my professional attire, you can too.
    JBudd, elkpark, Spidey's mom, and 2 others like this.
  4. 0
    It really depends on the facility. My facility has way, way more lax dress codes than most. Nurses and aides can come to work in jeans and a tee shirt if they want. One aide on days comes into work in a Metallica tee shirt and Jean shorts. And he has sleeve tattoos that no one cares if he covers. The residents don't care. They consider him like family. Remember: LTC facilities are these people's HOME. Why would you even want to have an overly institutional feel in this environment?
  5. 0
    I don't think it should matter, but it does. And I live in Florida too. Think about the population here- primarily the elderly. They definitely do not appreciate the need for individual expression so I think you need to tone it down. I think Mclennan had a fabulous post in this matter.
  6. 0
    Our school & clinical sites- no tatts showing, no dangle earrings, no necklaces, hair off shoulders, natural colored hair only, no prefume.
  7. 1
    Quote from GrnTea

    (IMHO, this also extends to nurses wearing scrubs that look like they're going to a middle school sleepover. Want to be taken seriously? Seriously?) .
    That sort of gets on my nerves too. Your an adult and a professional, so act like one. Or would you like to go back to the old days, wearing all white and wearing the little white hat? At least back then they looked professional and that's the way it should be. I think the way you dress is very important because it's the first impression the patient makes before you open your mouth to introduce yourself.
    Last edit by heather18_RN on Jan 2, '13
    texasmum likes this.
  8. 1
    As someone who used to be the punk rock kid with blue hair in college v1.0, my best advice to you would be to
    blend in as much as possible for nursing school. That means dyeing your hair back to a natural color, keeping
    your nails natural, conservative makeup, and covering up your tattoos. I also took political-type patches off my bags
    and adopted a much more conservative dress code for lecture, similar to a soccer mom (and no, I didn't want to offend
    soccer moms, just adopt their classic style). It's worked pretty well so far.

    I want to be remembered for my performance in class and clinical, not because of how I dressed offensively.

    Remember, it is only for 2 years, and you will always have the opportunity to go into a specialty that may
    welcome your individuality- OR, Psych, Telenursing, etc. You can also let your freak flag fly on the weekends and in the summer
    if you need to get your yayas out.
    GrnTea likes this.
  9. 0
    In my school, your hair had to be a normal color and no visible tattoos or piercings. Same with my job. I think as a professional, you shouldn't have crazy colored hair and visible tattoos/piercings (and I used to be totally into that thing). Some tattoos are okay, not on the face. We take care of a lot of elderly and judgemental people. I want them to be comfortable with the care that I'm giving them.
  10. 0
    Yes, it does matter. As the poster above said, even when you get in the "real" world - dress the way you want own your own time. The more professional you look on the job the more seriously you will be taken - nurse, doctor lawyer or indian chief!


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