Can a Nurse Have a Tattoo?

nurse with tattoos
Written by
Jenna Elizabeth
Reviewed by
Miranda Kay, RN
April 18, 2023

Got ink? Many people do. In fact, according to one poll, 30 percent of all Americans have at least one tattoo. If you happen to be working in health care as a registered nurse (RN), you may be wondering if having a tattoo is a barrier to getting hired. The short answer? No. So whether you were young and got a wild wrist tattoo on a whim or made a conscious decision to get a full-sleeve tattoo, take a sigh of relief because there is no law that prohibits tattoos on nurses. However, depending on where a nurse decides to work, there could be body art policies that require healthcare worker tattoos to be covered up. Worried that your tattoo will get in the way of your nursing career? Read on for the low down on having a tattoo as a nurse and a few clever tips to cover up visible ink. 

Can I Be a Nurse with a Tattoo?

tattoo artist

As mentioned above, there is no rule concerning tattoos on nurses by the American Nursing Association (ANA). What’s more, these days, many medical facilities will allow small tattoos on nurses to be visible. As a general rule of thumb, tattoos in the medical field are allowed, but some exceptions exist. For example, most medical facilities will prohibit a visible nurse tattoo that portrays any type of offensive imagery. Yet, offensive imagery can be subjective, so the best action you can take as a nurse with a tattoo is to check with your supervisor about your workplace guidelines concerning tattoos. 

Common Policies for Tattoos in the Medical Field 

The good news? Now you know you can have a tattoo as a nurse. The less encouraging news? You may have to find creative ways to cover your tattoos up. Presently, there are no federal laws that prohibit discrimination concerning body art. In theory, an employer can refuse to hire an applicant based on a visible tattoo. While we would like to think that most people can look beyond tattoos and only consider the qualifications of a potential nurse employee, statistics presented by TeamStage highlighted that over 40 percent of people believe tattoos are not appropriate in the workplace. On the contrary, only 4 percent of people with tattoos felt discriminated against in the workplace due to their body art. Depending on your employer’s position on tattoos, rules surrounding tattoos in the medical field can be strict. Here’s a look at common policies regarding body art and tattoos in the workplace:

  • Offensive tattoos or tattoos that display violence must be concealed—no exceptions.
  • Neck, face, or collar tattoos are widely restricted in the workplace.
  • Visible body piercings, including on the nose, lips, and face, should be removed or concealed.
  • Visible tattoos must be covered up by long sleeve scrubs, medical tape, or makeup.
  • Small, tasteful visible tattoos may be considered, but employers have the last say on whether or not said visible tattoos are allowed. 

How to Cover Up a Nurse Tattoo

Contrary to popular belief, tattoos and healthcare can exist side by side. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to cover up your tattoos while working as a nurse. As a matter of fact, some companies are even tailoring their brands to cater to nurses with tattoos. Ink Armor Sleeves by Tat2X offers premium quality cover-up sleeves that comply with “no visible tattoo” policies at work. So whether you have a huge Florence nightingale tattoo on your arm or a small design tattoo on your fingers, these Ink Armor cover-up sleeves are a great way to hide your ink. Moreover, professional tattoo-concealing makeup can be an excellent tool to cover behind-the-ear tattoos as well as tattoos on hands or fingers. 

Ultimately, the best way to manage your nurse tattoo is to ask your workplace about their specific policies regarding visible body design and art. You will find that most employee handbooks will have a section that clearly states tattoo and body art guidelines. Finally, if you are a nurse and feel that your tattoo is a big nuisance to cover up or believe it is hindering you from landing a job, you could consider a safe tattoo removal service.

Be Proud of Your Ink

Tattoo Hand

Gone are the days when tattoos were considered taboo and only reserved for the rebels of society. Now most employers are open to the idea of nurses having tattoos. That’s because, even in the medical field, employers may view an individual’s tattoo as a form of self-expression and individuality. With that said, if you are a nurse with a tattoo, make sure you consider your workplace’s rules regarding tattoos. From there, be proud of your ink; it’s a part of you and your story!

Blog published on:
April 18, 2023

Meet Jenna, a contributing copywriter at Nursa who writes about healthcare news and updates, empathy and compassion for nurses, how to show staff appreciation and increase retention, and guides that help nurses navigate career pathways.

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