These days, it seems like everybody has a tattoo. In fact, according to a 2017 survey, four out of 10 Americans reported that they had at least one tattoo somewhere on their body. Not only that, but nearly 20 percent of respondents said that they were considering getting one in the future. Of course, it’s no surprise that tattoos are becoming increasingly more popular as time goes on. However, there are some professions that still prefer employees to be un-inked. So, when it comes to tattoos and nursing, what’s the deal?
Tattoos and Nursing | Ink or No Ink?
Why the Stigma?
First off, let’s break down the negative stigma that is associated with tattoos. Why are they sometimes viewed negatively in the medical field? Well, here are two main reasons:
1. Association with a criminal offense.
Back in the day, tattoos and body piercings were associated with illegal activities. If someone had a visible tattoo, others often viewed them as rebellious or dangerous. Additionally, many prisoners got tattoos in jail as a form of recreation. As a result, many of those in the older generations still associate tattoos with criminal behavior or rebellious tendencies.
2. They look unhygienic.
Some conservative or elderly people look upon tattoos as dirty and unhygienic. Although the tattooing process is, in itself, very safe and sanitary, some individuals view tattoos as being dirty for the body. Thus, it can impact the way your patients view you and the procedures that you have to perform for them.
Are There Rules Regarding Tattoos and Nursing?
Officially, there is no known or set policy regarding tattoos and nursing. So, the topic remains an unresolved issue in the nursing world. However, many nursing schools and hospitals have differing policies on body ink. For the most part, there’s usually some leeway when it comes to visible tattoos. For example, certain healthcare facilities may require employees to cover up their tattoos with bandages or long-sleeved shirts. Others may allow tattoos, but none above the collar or on the lower arms. Still, there are some facilities out there that do not allow their nurses to have tattoos of any kind. When it comes to nursing schools, the rules for tattoos are often a bit stricter. More often than not, nursing schools require students to cover up their visible tattoos whether that be with layers of clothes or makeup.
What Should Nurses with Tattoos Do?
If you’re a nursing student or a nurse with tattoos, don’t panic! The most important thing to do is simply plan ahead.
If you’re starting nursing school, look into the school’s policies regarding tattoos and piercings ahead of time. Find out if they allow tattoos at all and, if they do, what their cover-up policy is.
Additionally, if you’re thinking about getting some ink in the future, consider putting the tattoo in a spot that would be covered by scrubs. Since the policies regarding tattoos and nursing vary greatly, it’s better to be safe than sorry. So, it’s best to get tattooed in a spot that can be easily covered up when needed.
Advantages of Tattoos in Nursing
Despite the negative stigma and strict policies surrounding tattoos, there are definitely some advantages to being inked as a nurse! Here are three advantages to getting that ink:
1. Tattoos can act as an icebreaker.
Tattoos can serve as an awesome conversation starter with patients. If a patient sees a tattoo on their nurse’s arm and asks about it, it could very well make them feel more at ease and comfortable, especially during a difficult visit or a procedure. Essentially, tattoos can help the patient get their mind off of what is causing them anxiety or stress.
2. Tattoos build connections.
Patients with tattoos may feel instantly connected to a nurse who also has them. Even if the patient doesn’t have tattoos, a nurse’s tattoos could spark a conversation about something that both parties have in common or enjoy. Body ink could serve as common ground between patients and nurses, which builds empathy and compassion.
3. Tattoos may distract pediatric patients.
Any pediatric nurse knows that children are often easily distracted. So, tattoos could help to divert a pediatric patient’s attention during a procedure, making it easier for both of them.
What are your thoughts on tattoos and nursing? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!