Can Healthcare Professionals Have Tattoos?

nurses and tattoos.jpg

Tattoos are becoming increasingly more popular and accepted in the US. They're cool, sexy, controversial and eye-catching; a tattoo makes a statement that a thousand words cannot. It is no surprise then that 36 percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 25 sport at least one of these markings somewhere on their bodies. As tattoos continue to gain popularity, they gain social acceptance as well. In certain professions, however, tattoos are still frowned upon by employers. Nursing, for the most part, is not one of them.

If you have tattoos and want a career as a healthcare professional, it may be comforting to learn that the healthcare profession as a whole is fairly accepting of tattoos and body art. For many nurses and doctors, tattoos are not an issue. Many healthcare professionals have easily concealable tattoos where they do not need to worry about it coming to the attention of a supervisor or a patient. Even difficult-to-hide tattoos can pass, as long as they are not excessively large or explicit.

Even thought most tattoos can be a non-issue at work, there are still some circumstances that may become a problem. Here are some examples:

Large Tattoos

Massive tattoos, or too many tattoos, can pose a real problem in the healthcare field. Not all employers are strict on their tattoos, but some facilities have dress codes that require all professionals to conceal their tattoos while on duty. Tattoos on your neck and arms will be difficult to keep out of sight, so employers with strict dress codes may not give you a chance and will disqualify you if they notice them at your interview. 

Employer Policy

Most facilities are somewhat lenient to visible tattoos, but this is not always the case.

"Some employers’ tattoo policies are stricter than others. For instance, there are still facilities out there that do not allow their nurses to have visible tattoos or body piercings of any kind. If you have tattoos in hard-to-cover locations, like your hands or neck, there’s a good chance you’ll have trouble meeting some potential employers’ dress-code policies." - Source

Offensive Tattoos

Harmless tattoos like names, hearts, music notes, and other innocent symbols won't cause much of an issue to most employers. Some tattoos could be considered offensive and shocking and this could affect your job search and even keeping your current position. It's best to play on the safe side and not display or tattoo any art that showcases nudity, drug use, or any art that can be connected to gangs. Any tattoos in these categories should be kept completely out of sight while working in the healthcare industry.

If one of these topics above are an issue for you, we have some ideas that will help you tackle most of the issues you may encounter while working in the field with tattoos:

 

Cover-Up Strategies

The best way to deal with the tattoo-healthcare field related issue is to avoid tattoos altogether. 

"If your current employer’s tattoo policy is fairly strict, simply keep your tattoos out of sight while at work. Long-sleeve shirts can be used to cover tattoos on the arms in most cases. Alternatively, skin-tone sleeves can be used to cover arm and leg tattoos without wearing an additional layer of clothing, which is great for the spring and summer months. For tattoos on the face and neck, try keeping your hair down to keep them out of sight. If that won’t work, there are special concealers that can be used to hide tattoos quite well."  - Source

Job-Hunting Tips

If hiding your tattoos daily is a deal breaker, then you should do a thorough research of possible employers and their dress codes before going in for your interview or sending in your resume. Most hospitals and large organizations have their policies posted on their website and if they do not, then asking someone (preferable a friend) can be another route. It may be more work, but it will all be worthwhile if this is an important issue to you, and you want to be stress-free about your tattoos in your workplace.

Tattoo Removal

If your tattoo(s) are destroying your chances at employment and opportunities, then you may have to remove them as a last resort. Unfortunately, this will take months-if not a year or more.

"Tattoos don't just disappear after a once-over with the laser. It takes a long time to complete because each time the tattoo is lasered, particles are broken down and digested by the body's immune system. The regeneration period is up to eight weeks, and the next time you go, the laser breaks down new particles of pigment. And so on and so forth." - Source

What are your thoughts on nurses, doctors, and other healthcare professionals with visible tattoos on duty? Should they be allowed or banned from the healthcare workplace? Leave your comments and thoughts below.