Career & Finances | Legal / Ethical

Can Nurses Have Tattoos in 2022?

  • Tattoos in the workplace have had a negative association for a long time; this is no different for the healthcare professions. 
  • Although as time passes, the acceptance of tattoos is becoming more prevalent as younger generations continue to get inked. 
  • Wondering if nurses can have tattoos in 2022? Let’s find out!

NCC News & Content Team

February 04, 2022
Simmons University

It is evident that the idea of tattoos in the workplace has had a bad reputation for many years. 

Oftentimes, if visible, tattoos can be viewed as unprofessional and might impact a job candidate’s chances of being hired.  

However, with 23% of Generation Z and 32% of Millennial Americans having at least one tattoo, it becomes a question as to whether tattoos in the workplace have become more accepted or not. 

For the sake of this debate, let’s differentiate between workforces and focus on the healthcare industry.  

Can nurses have tattoos? Let’s find out! 


What Are the Laws? 

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) states that there are no laws prohibiting employers from discriminating against candidates with visible tattoos.  

Depending on the healthcare facility a nurse is applying to, a nurse should attempt to find any specific policies or regulations regarding visible tattoos prior to arriving for an interview. This can be done by visiting the facility’s website, or even asking a friend who might work at the facility already! 

However, as far as strict laws go covering the question, “can nurses have tattoos?” there are none that are universal. It solely depends on the facility and its policies.

Why is This a Debate? 

Times are changing, and with that comes the evolution of societal norms.  

Tattoos have become normalized. Whether it is for a sentimental reason or no reason at all, it is a representation of the person.  

However, despite the rising acceptance nation-wide, there are still some obvious pros and cons to providers showing off their tattoos. 

The Pros

Health job resource, Incredible Health, outlines several positives of not covering up tattoos, these include: 

  • Builds relatability
  • Diminishes stereotypes 
  • Potentially diverts attention of pediatric patients 

Providers are humans too, and tattoos can be viewed as a form of self-expression.  

Allowing patients the opportunity to see this side of their nurse might make them more comfortable!

The Cons

As we know, with pros, there are also cons; however, these stem from the historical stereotypes of tattoos. These might include: 

  • Unprofessional appearance 
  • Unhygienic  

Of course, there is also a potentiality that a provider’s tattoo could come off as offensive to a patient, in which case, regulations would have to be set in place by the facility to ensure that this does not happen.

nurse with tattoos

I’m a Nurse with Tattoos: What Can I Do? 

If you are new to the profession and have already gotten a few visible tattoos, no need to panic. There are a few things you can do!  

For starters, a lot of nurses wear long-sleeved shirts underneath their scrubs to cover tattoos below their elbows. You can find them anywhere, however, we recommend checking out FIGS underscrubs! 

Of course, this is dependent on the size and quantity of tattoos, but nurses can also wrap bandages around any visible sleeves!

I’m Still in School, But I Want Tattoos: Is It Worth It? 

The decision to get a tattoo can be a big one, and the commitment can feel overwhelming.  

Although each facility and its dress code policies may vary, it is evident that tattoos are becoming more accepted, especially if they are an appropriate, non-offensive design.  

For example, The Mayo Clinic, recently adjusted its tattoo policies and allows its providers to show their ink! 

Although the decision to get a tattoo is completely up to you, it is safe to assume that policies will continue to lighten up over time. 

The Bottom Line: Can Nurses Have Tattoos in 2022? 

In short, yes. Nurses can have tattoos in 2022! 

It is the responsibility of the nurse to ensure that they are following their facility guidelines and covering their pieces if required.  

We recommend doing your own facility-specific research before receiving a below-the-elbow tattoo.

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