Visible tattoos appropriate for RN's?

  1. I'm curious as to what my fellow RN's and RN nursing students doing clinical hours think of RN's showing visible tattoos during clinical time. I am an RN student in my last semester before graduation in May, and I have 12 tattoos, with a few of them visible while in my uniform. None of my tattoos are even remotely "inappropriate" or riske'. With that being said, do you think location of the tattoos are most important when determining a policy for covering them up or not covering them up, quantity of visible tattoos, or what the tattoos actually are? I know some facilities don't really have a tattoo policy while other facilities have very strict tattoo rules. What are you opinions and what is your facility's policy on visible tattoos? Thanks!
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    About jayne12

    Joined: Jan '18; Posts: 4; Likes: 1
    Specialty: 1 year(s) of experience

    24 Comments

  3. by   meanmaryjean
    In ALL of the clinical sites where my students go (over a dozen) the rule is no visible tattoos at any time. This rule is both for students and employees at every level (so in other words, not just nurses or persons in direct care roles).
  4. by   jayne12
    That is very interesting. The 3 facilities where I live where I have participated in clinical, have at least 40% of their staff with visible tattoos. Most tattoos are on wrists/hands, but I have seen a neck tattoo as well. Tattoos do not bother me, especially if they are not offensive or inappropriate in any way, and to be honest they don't seem to bother the patients either. Most patients comment on them and ask to see them better. Or just don't say anything at all. My tattoos that are visible are on each of my wrists and one on the back of my neck that is visible when my hair is pulled up into a pony-tail. I get compliments from patients on them all the time. I know you said the policy where you've been is NO tattoos period for anyone, but do you think that is the way it should be or do you think some tattoos are okay, on a personal level?
  5. by   AnnieNP
    I am in private practice and I also Precept Nurse Practitioner students. I do not allow visible tattoos on office staff or on my students.
  6. by   jayne12
    Interesting. Maybe different parts of the country have different views on things like tattoos. Just a thought. It doesn't seem to be a big deal where I live and you'd think it would be a HUGE deal considering I live in a very conservative state in the western US. I am all about abiding by the rules, but for me all that takes is putting on a long sleeve shirt under my scrub top, which I do anyway. Was just wondering what people's thoughts were on the topic.
  7. by   Mavrick
    Let's start with: I have a tattoo on my forearm. It's stupid (references drugs and motorcycles) but not large or offensive. I get asked about it occasionally and am again reminded of how stupid it was to get it.

    With regard to others, it depends. Large, homemade looking, offensive, creepy, on your face >>> NO. Small, tasteful, professionally done, arm, neck, back, chest, ankle >>> OK

    Now here comes the rub. What I think is offensive is say, a swastika or a hanging bleeding Jesus or gaping full color bullet hole or a scary rendition of a portrait of your baby. Might be just what gives the wearer a sense of satisfaction and not at all offensive to them. That's why the all or none policy in many facilities.
    Last edit by Mavrick on Jan 20
  8. by   meanmaryjean
    Quote from Mavrick
    Let's start with: I have a tattoo on my forearm. It's stupid (references drugs and motorcycles) but not large or offensive. I get asked about it occasionally and am again reminded of how stupid it was to get it.

    With regard to others, it depends. Large, homemade looking, offensive, creepy, on your face >>> NO. Small, tasteful, professionally done, arm, neck, back, chest, ankle >>> OK

    Now here comes the rub. What I think is offensive is say, a swastika or a hanging bleeding Jesus or gaping full color bullet hole or a scary rendition of a portrait of your baby. Might be just what gives the wearer a sense of satisfaction and not at all offensive to them. That's why the all or none policy in many facilities.
    Well said!

    My one and only tat commemorates the Cubs' 2016 World Series win. In Latin 'cause I'm cool like that. And surrounding my smallpox vaccination scar to show just how long I waited for it!
  9. by   FutureNurseErica
    I am one of those people that really doesn't care either way. I have a healthy amount of tattoos, but fortunately for me I've never had this issue because my most visible tattoos can be covered by wearing my hair down and putting on a watch. I do have a guy on my job that has a full sleeve on his arm and he is an RN. It hasn't hindered his upward mobility nor have I heard anyone complain. I really feel like it depends on where you work and the type of people you will come in contact with. I'm sure some supervisors and patients will not appreciate visible tattoos due in large part to stereotyping, but when someone gives quality care and is an excellent nurse, will their tattoos stop them for doing their job? HECK NO!
  10. by   Cindyel
    My school has a strictly enforced no visible tattoo policy. You have to wear make up or compression sleeves to cover them. Even if the clinical facilities allowed it, the school does not. For reference I am on the East Coast outside a major metro city.
  11. by   Mavrick
    Quote from FutureNurseErica
    I am one of those people that really doesn't care either way. I have a healthy amount of tattoos, but fortunately for me I've never had this issue because my most visible tattoos can be covered by wearing my hair down and putting on a watch. I do have a guy on my job that has a full sleeve on his arm and he is an RN. It hasn't hindered his upward mobility nor have I heard anyone complain. I really feel like it depends on where you work and the type of people you will come in contact with. I'm sure some supervisors and patients will not appreciate visible tattoos due in large part to stereotyping, but when someone gives quality care and is an excellent nurse, will their tattoos stop them for doing their job? HECK NO!
    There is no way to judge whether his tattoos have affected his career advancement. No one with any sense will admit that his tats turned them off. It will be for some "didn't meet our criteria for the job" excuse and there won't be a callback or second interview as a result.

    It would have to be a pretty blatantly offensive tattoo for someone to complain to another staff member. Just cuz you didn't hear it doesn't mean they didn't complain to a charge nurse, nursing supervisor, or write it up on the follow-up survey.

    People judge on first impressions so you may not get a chance to demonstrate your superior nursing skills to combat that stereotype. Will their tattoos keep them from getting the job? HECK YEAH!
  12. by   roo504
    I'm also a student nurse in a program that has a very strict "no visible tattoo in uniform" policy - this applies regardless of the clinical site's policy as a previous poster mentioned about their program. I'll have to admit that I have mixed opinions about visible tattoos on healthcare professionals. But before I get into that, I'd like to mention that I have very obvious forearm tattoos and wrist tattoos as well as a neck tattoo. My background before getting into healthcare are military, law enforcement, and a stint as an over-the-road truck driver. So with all that being said, I have already lived on both ends where my tattoos have drawn everything from severe regard/rebuke to not even a passing glance solely based on the stigma associated with each profession. In each of those, I have always had the benefit of allowing my professionalism, knowledge, and skill speak for themselves leaving those who may have made a snap decision based on my tattoos have a change of heart.
    However, I think in nursing this may be a bit more of a tricky thing to affect. The populations we deal with are often very diverse - a broad spectrum of backgrounds and ages. Unfortunately, this is an environment where opinion about you may matter. I would imagine that the old saying, "You can't please everybody all the time," applies and at some point, no matter how well you perform your job and care for the pt, someone is going to have a problem with it. In that regard, I personally don't have any issue with covering my tats with a lil makeup or whatever just to ensure that the pt is focusing on what's most important - their care and recovery (and in my case - practicing and learning).
    I dunno. Maybe that's just an old bit of the Army in me that would much rather just play the game and pick my battles than make waves. Who knows? My opinion may change when it comes time to find a job and dabbing foundation on my neck before every shift just doesn't seem practical anymore lol
  13. by   Pixie.RN
    I have full sleeves, and I keep them covered at work - even when I don't have to. My tattoos are a personal choice and I don't really need to show them in my professional life. I prefer to keep personal and professional separate.
  14. by   wondern
    If you do chose to show them and you're my nurse I'll feel much more confident if you have this one...
    images-5-jpeg

    as opposed to this one...

    images-4-jpeg

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