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My Body Is Not My Resume: Exploring Nursing Dress Codes

Nurses Article   (22,346 Views | 63 Replies | 749 Words)

Melissa Mills has 20 years experience as a BSN and specializes in Nurse Case Manager, Professor, Freelance Writer.

11 Followers; 123 Articles; 25,417 Profile Views; 286 Posts

Long gone are the days of "nursing whites", but should our dress codes be even more relaxed? Is society ready for nurses and other healthcare professionals with tattoos, colorful hair and body piercings? Let's explore the past, present and future of nurse dress codes. You are reading page 4 of My Body Is Not My Resume: Exploring Nursing Dress Codes. If you want to start from the beginning Go to First Page.

SmilingBluEyes has 20 years experience.

2 Followers; 19,584 Posts; 65,794 Profile Views

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.

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nekozuki has 5 years experience as a LPN and specializes in Pediatrics.

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I work in a series of pediatric group homes with six patients staffed by two nurses. Most of the kids are on hospice or PVS, nearly all of them wards of the state with little parental involvement. It's a pretty sad atmosphere where you're just caring for kids the state is waiting to die so they can upgrade abuse charges against the parents for murder. They try to make it as relaxed and low-stress as possible, and honestly, the *only* dress code rule is pretty much to be clean. Crazy tats and funky hair are totally acceptable. People come in with pajamas on, bizarre footwear, street clothes, last week during the cold snap I relieved a nurse wearing a tank top, sweatpants, and full lace-up Ugg boots. My company isn't perfect, but I appreciate that they roll with the punches in terms of redefining what "professional" means. The times are changing, and tats/hairdye/piercings will no longer be the ruler by which we measure professionalism.

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liathA has 1 years experience.

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I think a clean, put-together, professional appearance is important. Some people can be clean, put-together, and professional looking and have tattoos and piercings and odd-colored hair. Other people can look like absolute slobs and have no body modifications whatsoever. Coming from a military background, I find tattoos much less disruptive than piercings - body and facial jewelry can get caught on things, be grabbed, get infected, etc., so there's more of a chance of them getting in the way of the actual job. In general though, the things I notice first about people are things like is their hair well-groomed, are their clothes clean and do they fit, do they look dirty? Dyed hair only tends to be an issue if it looks old and tired and not maintained - like the color has washed out and the roots are obvious. Tattoos and piercings don't really register for me unless it's something pretty outre, like large neck/facial tattoos or gaged facial piercings. I will say that I think jewelry should be kept small and subtle at work, if it's worn at all - save your big glitteries and long danglies for date night.

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27 Posts; 1,294 Profile Views

And don't get me started on the "I just rolled out of bed and put my hair in a messy bun" thing. While I don't think we should be sporting french twists, looking like you just had sex or are about to play field hockey is so wrong. And no, adding a stretchy headband does not improve the look.

I have to disagree here. I wear my hair in a messy bun/simple ponytail most days for work with a stretchy headband to glam it up a bit and keep my hair out of my face and I don't feel as if I look unprofessional by any means. I actually think adding a headband is a quick fix to otherwise drab hair. Speaking for myself, I don't get much time to do my hair so I think it's perfectly acceptable to wear my hair the same way I would if I were about to play field hockey because let's face it...nursing can get just as rough! :)

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507 Posts; 5,250 Profile Views

No visible tattoos allowed in jail it would appear given the number of deputies wearing compression stockings on their arms. We really are not engaging in any personal chit chat so no conversation starters. Do not have any tattoos but have been pondering getting a bit of later life ink...

would make staff easier to locate, some inmates have had associates on the outside track down staff as deputies go by their last names. Policy on medical dictates no visible tats and we do not give out our last names. Then again the BON lists the city we all live in and while it does not list an address it would take someone 2-3 minutes to walk around town and find someone who knows me.

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TanyaS57 has 1 years experience.

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i had pink hair for about 6 months. At first my patients looked at me with a funny look. But once I began talking to them and caring for them they realized I was a good nurse who just happened to have pink hair. My patients thought my hair was fun and it made them smile. Plus they all remembered me because I was the nurse with pink hair. My management had no problem with it. They just said you are the type that can get away with that.

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Ruby Vee has 40 years experience as a BSN and specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching.

11 Followers; 66 Articles; 13,948 Posts; 172,394 Profile Views

I hate the whites. I don't own a scrub top that doesn't have a stain. In fact, I'd like to give a big, long throat hug to the person who decided that was a good idea at my facility.

I really don't care about hair, tats, piercings, etc. Back in the day, it was strictly a biker, outlaw, military, or fetish sort of thing. Never mainstream. It's trendy now and nothings going to change the demand for nurses in the foreseeable future.

Big, long throat hug? Not sure I understand the reference, but the mental picture is entertaining and I agree with the sentiment.

Let those who like white WEAR white, but please don't force anyone else to do so!

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FullGlass has 2 years experience as a BSN, MSN, NP and specializes in Adult and Geriatric Primary Care.

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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."

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354 Posts; 3,250 Profile Views

I am a tattooed nurse. Yes a few are visible..even more aren't. For the most part, I get a curious and positive reception from patients. Now there is a line to be drawn...I think multiple facial piercings and those darn ear stretching gauges are not appropriate for the floor.

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BlueShoes12 is a BSN, RN and specializes in PACU, Stepdown, Trauma.

106 Posts; 1,744 Profile Views

Personally, it doesn't bother me unless it's an obviously offensive tattoo (something depicting violence or racism, for instance). One of my nursing instructor had a full sleeve and colored streaks in her hair... it looked great and she had no complaints from patients. I have a tattoo and multiple piercings, although the only ones that are visible are in my ears. I've sported a pixie cut and had multi-colored hair... nobody minded!

It's technically against the dress code at the hospital where I work, but the enforcement varies wildly from unit to unit depending on the manager. Some units at the hospital where I work have a strictly enforced dress code right down to the color of your scrubs and undershirts, but the step-down ICU is pretty laid-back. I usually wear scrub pants and a long-sleeved athletic type shirt in varying colors.

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570 Posts; 6,954 Profile Views

I have multi-colored hair. However, I have long hair and when I had it done I stated I wanted to look professional at work and not like a clown. I always wear a bun at work, so my hair now has multi-colored streaks for the last two-thirds and at work I have a colorful bun. I have had patients ask if it is really my hair or some sort of extension.

I believe in balance. (I also work nights in an ER, so that probably helps.) Do I believe that I should be able to go to work with full sleeve tattoos (some of which I actually like), twelve visible piercings, or all green hair? Not so much.

I do happen to live in a fairly conservative area of the country.

Edited by Cat365

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Kitiger has 40 years experience as a RN and specializes in Private Duty Pediatrics.

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I have to disagree here. I wear my hair in a messy bun/simple ponytail most days for work with a stretchy headband to glam it up a bit and keep my hair out of my face and I don't feel as if I look unprofessional by any means. I actually think adding a headband is a quick fix to otherwise drab hair. Speaking for myself, I don't get much time to do my hair so I think it's perfectly acceptable to wear my hair the same way I would if I were about to play field hockey because let's face it...nursing can get just as rough! :)

What do you see as "professional"? What impression do you want to make? Do you care?

Do you want to look harried, like someone who is so stressed that they can't even comb their hair?

First impressions do count, whether or not you think they should. If your patients see you as someone who is composed, they are more likely to see you as knowledgeable and proficient. They are more likely to trust you.

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