I have a huge tattoo on my arm and hand. Will I ever have a career in Nursing?


I got my tattoo about 3 years ago and haven't even considered the idea of being a nurse at the time so I had no qualms about how this tattoo could affect me in the future.

Anyways, my tattoo is of lotus flowers. Nothing that signifies death or anything that could scare a patient. It runs from my top forearm to the top of my hand (left). The tattoo holds a special place in my heart because it signifies overcoming depression that I was suffering from when I got myself inked.

I don't know how strict the hospitals are here in Ontario or Canada with regards to having visible tattoos. I've read that they may ask you to cover it up, which is fine by me, but won't wearing long sleeves or putting a concealer be an issue in terms of cleanliness? Also, since I have a tattoo, employers may think I'm a liability and will be more comfortable hiring someone else with the same amount of education or experience who DOESN'T have a tattoo. Is there any chance for me in making it?


1,093 Posts

Has 1 years experience.

At this point all you can do is speculate. You never know. Like you said, your tattoo is just an image of flowers, not a skull or something scary looking. Also, when you appear to interview, you can wear a long-sleeve shirt/blouse (not sure of your gender). If hired, again, you can wear a long-sleeve "something" under your scrubs. Btw, I have seem a lot of male and female nurses wearing long-sleeve "somethings" under their regular scrubs. Of course, if you do get to interview, and you will be wearing a long-sleeve shirt/blouse, you can mention that you have a tattoo. I would do so only at the end of the interview when they will naturally ask you "do you have questions for us or is there anything else you would like to tell us about your candidacy". Good luck!

verene, MSN

1,790 Posts

Specializes in mental health / psychiatic nursing.

I think it depends on where you want to work. Some cities are more open to tattoos, and some employers. I'm ain a city that has a strong culture of individual freedom and at the hospital I'm at it wouldn't be an issue for being hired - you likely wouldn't even have to cover it, because tattoos are quite common among both staff and patients. Other employers can be less accepting, particularly if you are in a more conservative region. It may require you to do some careful job-market and employer research, but I don't think it would completely rule you out of a career in nursing.

As for long-sleeves - generally ok. I wear long sleeve shirts a lot under my scrubs because I get cold easily. Some of my coworkers are muslim and wear long sleeves for modesty. If you have to cover your tattoo this is definitely a workable option.

Specializes in Emergency. Has 3 years experience.

If it can be covered, I wouldn't give it a second thought. If it can't, it would depend on where you live and who you work for. CHI Franciscan is the big employer in my area. I have volunteered for them and their official policy is that tattoos be covered, but I see nurses every day who have tattoos showing.

Buyer beware, BSN

1,137 Posts

Specializes in GENERAL. Has 40 years experience.


You can never know the predjudice inside the hearts of those who have power over your prospects to make a living.

But today with the ubiquity of tattoos on folks literally from head to toe, is it really that much of a barrier to employment given the fact that you are an intellegent, articulate, attractive person,

They say first impressions are the ones that count.

So at least initially if there is the slightest chance that you may be targeted as persona non gratia cover them up, at least temporarily.

But I would seek out those venues that have a healthy attitude toward what today are harmless cultural norms.

People of previous generations (boomers) were

enculturated for the most part to see tattoos as the primary domain of convicts and drunken sailors. But you wouldn't be surprised to know how many boomers have tattoos in discrete and intimate places. (no granny, say it ain't so)

So hipocracy can be rampant sometimes, especially among those in the employment driver's seat.

You know I believe if a tattoo is well done, and you have a well socialized personality to go with it, what can you do, you have to be the authentic you. And that's healthy.

Just as an aside, I worked in a SICU in Augusta, Ga. and there was this patient with crude prison tattoos of naked women in various stages of undress strewn about his body. The nurse who had given me report was known to be a strict adherent to an unquestioning belief in the redemtive power of Christ in all things.

But still you can imagine my surprise when I pulled back the sheets on this intubated and sedated fellow to find that this nurse had drawn clothes on all the naked women.

Oh the power of the magic marker.

Laudy Jesus!!! Have mercy.

Extra Pickles

1,403 Posts

you'll need to go to a school that has clinical sites that allow your tattoos, since you can't cover them up completely. You'll need to work for an employer that allows it. Different places have different policies, so the answer is that you will be able to go to some schools and not others and work at some facilities but not others. Unless you can remove it completely it might factor into what schools and what jobs you get.