Would you cut your hair for your career?

Nurses General Nursing


Specializes in Psych.

Hello Nurses!

I am a senior nursing student and my two main passions are psych/mental health and community/public health nursing. Happily, the exams I have taken (both standardized and professor written) have indicated that my knowledge in these areas is very strong. However, I want real life experience. I would like to work with the the US Public Health Service (USPHS)as a psych nurse and eventually the Centers for Disease Control as a Behavioral or Health Scientist. There's is just one problem: According to the dress code I found on the website, the USPHS has a no dreadlock policy and I have dreadlocks! I love my hair, but I am also passionate about service to my country. I'm AA and this is what my hair does in it natural state.

My hair is shoulder length and my dreads are are thin, neat, and inconspicuous. I could not imagine them being a distraction or receiving extra attention from anyone and my hair requires very little maintenance (just wash and go). I was thinking about trying to sign up anyway and letting them tell me they don't want me, but I am not a boat-rocker. I respect rules and don't want to cause any trouble. I think I'm gonna keep my hair (it's my prerogative as a woman/human being), but I'm sad that I won't be allowed to serve because of it and would like some advice. What would you do?

Thanks for your honest advice!

Specializes in L&D.

Go for the experience...it is not every day that you stumble across such an awesome opportunity!

Your hair will grow back :heartbeat

Forgive the question from a straight, stringy haired white chic - but can you tie it back or up for work? I'm guessing the policy is for out of control hair. If you have an opportunity to interview you could clarify their position then.

Specializes in ICU, M/S,Nurse Supervisor, CNS.

I had to look at that policy to believe it! I didn't realize the government had such stringent policies on dreadlocks. In fact, one of my hairdresser's clients is active duty navy and wears dreads, so I didn't know such restrictions existed. However, to answer your question, it depends on how bad you want it. Are you really willing to get rid of a part of you that you have been grooming for a while I'm sure, for a job. There are definitely other nursing positions that will not require such a sacrifice, but its up to you to really decide what will make you happy. It would be awful for you to decide to make that sacrifice and cut your hair only to find out a couple months down the line that you hate your job. Good luck with whatever you choose.

I would say nothing and see what happens - especially since this is your natural hair and you say that it looks inconspicuous. It looks professional enough for interviews, correct? If they ask you to change it, do so. Otherwise rock your own style!

(Says a girl with a nose ring who no one has bothered about changing, despite formal policy)

dress codes arent always designed to be culturally sensitive or asethetically pleasing. such is life.

if this work will make you happy, grab your clippers.

best wishes!

Go for the job. You may tire of the dreads, anyway.

Specializes in Critical Care/Coronary Care Unit,.

As a fellow black person, I know that our hair takes a long time to grow. The no dreadlock policy doesn't seem kosher to me. I can understand if they said that dreadlocks must be neat and tied back...but to say no dreadlocks period. Do they not understand that for some people this isn't just a hairstyle, but a part of their religion?That's definitely something that you need to clarify during the interview. Now if it's part of your religion, you'll be protected by the constitution. And if you don't want to rock the boat then your only choices are to cut the locks and take the job, or keep your hair and find something else you want to do. However, don't give up your dream b/c you couldn't live w/o your locks. You can still be natural w/o locks (you know what I mean). There are plenty of cute natural looks that don't include locks that you can take into consideration. Good luck.

P.S. I rock my two piercings in my ears. Yes, believe it or not some hospitals don't want you to wear two piercings in the same ear. However, my long chemically treated hair covers it. :jester:

Oh the irony. I had hair down to the middle of my back and just cut all of it off into a pixie cut that I wear as a mohawk sometime :D

I would go for the job--hair grows back :D

Specializes in Psych.

Thanks to all of you for your advice:heartbeat. My hair can be pulled back into a neat, professional looking bun, fit under a hat/helmet, etc. I love my hair and it has taken a lot of patience to it grow it out, but of course my career is more important in the long run. However, I still have some time time to think about this issue and may just go in as if nothing's strange and see what happens as some have suggested. And if I cut them, I'll have a long, awkward growing out phase in which I'll look like a man with a little fro (until I can fit it into a ponytail again) because I'm not getting a relaxer/perm. It might just be worth it, though... Decisions, decisions.

Specializes in acute care med/surg, LTC, orthopedics.

How odd. No dreads. Then should also be no ponytails, no weaves, no braids... are those mentioned, too?

Seems prejudiced and superficial to me.



Specializes in LTC.

If you can pull your hair back into a neat professional looking bun do that for the interview. As long as your hair looks professional chances of people noticing it enough to go "She's breaking dress code!" is slim.

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