My Body Is Not My Resume: Exploring Nursing Dress Codes - page 5

Let's talk dress code. I am certain that everyone has an opinion on this topic. We can discuss nursing whites versus colors or clogs versus gym shoes, but that is just too mundane! Let's dig deeper. ... Read More

  1. by   melissa.mills1117
    Quote from SmilingBluEyes
    I feel conflicted on this. I do believe our presentation is a resume of sorts, and yes, there is a population that have a problem with multiple facial piercings and tattoos.

    As a hiring manager, however, I have hired people with tats and a nose ring who present professionally and as a good fit for the position. I am not so old as not to get it and myself, am getting my first tat soon, although in an area not too noticeable by many. I agree with others, crummy, lumpy, dumpy and worn out scrubs and shoes are a bigger issue for me. It shows lack of self-awareness of appearance and hygiene to me.

    But----You see, as a manager/leader I have to show somewhat of an example. A lot of my elderly or demented patients are frightened by multiple tattoos and piercings; not saying that's right, but it's a fact. I have to present the example. So I don't pierce my face and will keep tattoos conservative. But I will also keep in mind myself, to get to know the actual person with those things (and colorful hair) because I know people are people and like to express themselves differently.

    I have told my own daughter who has multiple ear piercings , a nose stone, and tattoos to keep them on the conservative side. She intends to pursue an advanced practice role and I said you won't want anything like a piercing or tattoo to get in your way. Her tats are on her shoulders, back and below the bra line. She has piercings (many) but again, mostly ears and in places you can't tell they are there. Her nose piercing is a tiny stone, not too crazy. I am not that out of touch to not know this how the millennial generation likes to express itself (and increasing baby boomers too) but again, some do have issues, some who would be there to hire you and judge you according to archaic or conservative standards. That will change over some years, but not just yet.

    As the older generation dies off and the millennial generation takes over, this will be less and less an issue. In less than 10 years, I see it as a real non-issue. But RIGHT NOW IT STILL IS for not just older, conservative patients, but hiring managers and HR representatives.

    Be careful not to shut that door of opportunity before you even knock on it, is my saying. My daughter and son, thankfully, are taking my advice and both have multiple tats and some piercings. But they are also are gainfully employed, and doing well.
    SmilingBlueEyes - Thanks for your thoughts. Yes, as managers, it can be a bit more difficult. I think the first thing every manager must do is recognize that you do have biases. And, if tattoos or facial piercings is one of them, you are likely going to have to work on that even more in the coming years as the Millennials and GenerationI begin to make their way into the workforce.

    Thanks again for sharing. ~Melissa
  2. by   melissa.mills1117
    Quote from FullGlass
    I applied for a mental health job. After the initial phone interview went well, the employer asked me to do an interview via video conference. After that was over, I asked them why they requested that. Answer: "This is a mental health facility in a conservative area. We've flown people all the way out here for interviews and had them show up with facial tattoos and/or multiple facial piercings. That could be really upsetting to some patients. We just wanted to make sure you looked normal."
    Thanks for sharing! This is exactly why we need to have these conversations. Is this right? Is it fair? Probably not, but there is technically no laws be broken, right??
  3. by   itiswell
    I definitely agree that policies vary greatly depending on region. In the Pacific NW every major hospital system allows visible tattoos, piercings, and unnatural hair colors. I think it's just because that's how the culture here is. Almost every person you run into the street, as well as patients in the hospital, have at least 1 tattoo, many have multiple. I personally have almost a full sleeve and just recently took out my septum ring. I found that it was a wonderful ice breaker for most patients, and I haven't encountered issues with them yet! As time goes on I believe more policies will flip to allow tattoos as the attitude that they are unprofessional seems to be dying out.
  4. by   griff428
    I think for our patients, perception is everything, like it or not. I will just say this much, the people I have the most respect for, appear respectful, with no attention-grabbing body piercings and tattoos. And conversely, the least respectable people I know of, do happen to have tattoos and some have unusual piercings. I think that speaks for itself. Personally, I don't want people to unjustly judge me so I choose the clean look.
  5. by   Qing
    I think that employers are changing a little bit on the dress code. I personally don't mind tattoos on a person, but if you have a tattoo on your neck and many piercings... people will judge. Even if its not right, where the person has a tattoo and could be the hardest worker with good ethics. However, the tattoo over shadows all those qualities of the person. So case by case, I think it should be determined if its okay. I do not like the white scrubs as it does not look good on everyone as we have different body types and shapes, etc. That change I am happy about and more choices for scrubs/ uniform is really nice to have.
  6. by   nehneh14
    I personally think tattoos are trashy and I fight against an automatic bias when I interact with someone who has tattoos as I'm very aware of my bias and that it's not really reality based. I was secretly disappointed when my niece and nephew began getting tats because they're not "the type". To me having tattoos sends a negative connotation, but I don't know where that comes from. Same with smoking. Once we were at a restaurant and our waiter had so many tats, piercings plus gauges that I was grossed out and lost interest in my food. I'm glad my organization has a pretty conservative stance re: tats, piercings, etc. It's more professional and frankly, looks more hygienic in a healthcare setting, whether or not that's reality.
  7. by   featherzRN
    I was a teen in the 80's so yes, I have a few tattoos. None of them are noticeable, but I do have four earrings in each ear so there's that. As a patient, I would not care if my nurse had cool colored hair, tats, or piercings - although I think there's a limit on that. If you have 20 holes in your nose, giant barbells hanging off your eyelids and a giant half dollar size 'window' in your cheek that's pushing it.

    My last hospital allowed colored scrubs and colored hair (on halloween I saw nurses in the ICU wearing cat pajamas, tail and all!), but my current hospital color codes everyone and I see no colored hair. (I'm admin so I hide in an office all day in street clothes).
  8. by   perfectbluebuildings
    Quote from nursemaryzzel
    Obviously I comb my hair, but nursing is all about practicality. Keeping it pulled back and out of your face is neat enough for me. I do care about my appearance, but the great thing about nursing is that it isn't a beauty pageant, so I can wear my loose ponytails and messy buns with pride and confidence that I still project the appearance of someone who puts patients above vanity.

    Most days, my look consists of a ponytail, clean scrubs (no time to press them usually), and a smile. Maybe a bit of makeup if I feel up to it. But I am not at work to impress my patients, colleagues, doctors--anyone. I'm there to help heal. Doesn't matter whether I do it with a fancy updo or a messy bun!
    Yes, I do not understand the idea that a ponytail or bun is "unprofessional". I have thick curly hair and that is the best way to keep it "tamed" while at my job. Even then, because it is so curly, little "strands" tend to frizz out at my temples no matter what I use to keep it smooth, and I don't like that it does that at work, but, just can't help it. I have worked with lots of nurses with their hair up in ponytails or buns; it never crossed my mind that some would see it as unprofessional. I guess something to think about for me? I'm not sure what else to do with my hair at work besides a ponytail or bun, any suggestions?

    Also I do like tattoos when they are well done; they can be so beautiful. I don't think I could pull one off, but I love the look of them, and the kids where I work think they are pretty "cool".
  9. by   GaryRay
    I have a full sleeve going all the way down to my knuckles... no hiding that. The artwork is black and gray and all in good taste. I didn't start it until about 7 years into my career, until I felt like I had enough experience and a good reputation that my bosses wouldn't judge me. I never checked the dress code until I got my hand done. Before that I figured I'd ask forgiveness not permission, and if anyone said anything i'd just start wearing long sleeves.

    To my surprise every time I came to work with a new (sealed with tegaderm for infection prevention) piece, my leadership team and coworkers would crowd around to see what I had added. My family hates tattoos and insists they have hindered my career. You see nurses with tattoos and piercings all the time, but a female with a full sleeve is rare.

    I've had mixed reviews from families. Some I can tell are looking down on me, and it takes a little while of me talking and being professional and interacting with their child before they realize tattoo ink doesn't lower my IQ. Others I have to request to allow me to assess and attend to their critically ill child before they admire my arm and get my artist's number. I have had siblings take markers and use my arm as a coloring book, and bonded with troubled teens over tattoos they wish they hadn't gotten.

    Overall, I feel like it would have affected my career more had I not waited until I was more experienced. Some people are going to judge no matter what, but those are the same people who have more trust in thinner nurses, or more attractive nurses, or white nurses. Their ignorance will always find something wrong with anyone "not like them".

    But there is a large population of judgemental people who can be won over with your experience and skills, they might not like what I look like, but they are still glad i'm taking care of their kid. If I was covered in tattoos when I was still a scared uncertain new grad, I don't know that those people would have been as quick to trust me.
  10. by   Scott.weselis
    I have many tattoos and piercings, and I have no regrets about any of them; they remind me from where I came. Despite my poor decisions in the past, I always recognized that I would never be hired for a professional job if I didn't look like a professional person, so never got anything that couldn't be covered by a long-sleeved shirt with a collar.

    You can try to look as hard as you want in your street clothes, but someday you'll have to get a real job. Do you think the late pastor's wife will let you sell their house if you look like you just barely survived a mosh pit?

    Regardless of what he says, I will never be able to respect a guy with a neck tattoo and stretched earlobes as a trustworthy newscaster. I've been in prison, those the last guys I'd trust unless they're in a bar or a music store.

    Tiny nostril studs are usually cute. I don't care about those. They're usually tastefully done. I have no objection to subtly decorating the's God's creation and it should be celebrated. But there is a line between decorating and mutalating. I just don't know where that is yet.

    To play it safe and avoid any lawsuits, if I owned a business, the dress code for my employees would have to be very strict: "No visible tattoos or piercings." I know it's harsh, but as societal norms (and facial holes) get stretched, that seems to be the only option.

    Please, think ahead about fleeting fashion.
    Last edit by Scott.weselis on Mar 17 : Reason: Expositorisation