56 answers

Health Care Worker with Tattoos... What Do You Think.

Hello, so I am in nursing school, and I have a couple of tattoos. Now I have no problem with someone with tattoos doing anything, but if you came to a hospital or Dr. Office, and somebody had tattoos.. How would you feel. Only one is my tattoos will be visible. I have a tattoo on the side of my neck, it is not big, it says beauty..that's it. My others are covered with clothes. But I have no facial peircings or anything like that... What do y'all think. Would you be turn-offish.. And feel uncomfortable? Because honestly, people judge from across the room. I am just wondering, I men my tattoo is small enough to be covered by. Regular sized bandaid if needed.......

FYI... I was 15 when I got the tattoo, and honestly didn't think I was going to make it till 18..

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I only care about one thing - how well does a person do his/her job? Body art does not affect a person's ability to do his/her job, and I don't assume things about their personal life or their professional competence based on ink and/or jewelery.

5 moms found this helpful

I think tattoos are demeaning to the person. It's not professional and I would cover it up at work. I know society is changing, but there's still lots of folks who look at tattoos and piercings as cheap, and low class. Just reality!

2 moms found this helpful

I try to judge people by how they act and not how they look. That however is not done by everyone.That being said my husband is covered in tattoos and is a corporate lawyer. You can not see a single tattoo when he is at work and he gets some really funny looks by people who see him out when he is off the clock. It has also brought some business his way too.
I will look at the tattoo and decide IMO if it was done by a good or bad tattoo artist or if it is something that I think the person may have given a little more thought before having put permanently on their body, but I don't let my decision on their works of art sway me on how they do there job.
In addition I have 3 tattoos myself.

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I could care less, I want a nurse who is observant, caring and hard working. I don't care if he/she has purple hair, no hair or is making their body a tattoo suite if they are good. My sis was in more ERs, ICUs and hospital rooms than I can count before she passed away in 2008. A caregivers heart and brain are all you care about. Congrats on getting accepted to nursing school, that is quite an accomplishment!

7 moms found this helpful

I only care about one thing - how well does a person do his/her job? Body art does not affect a person's ability to do his/her job, and I don't assume things about their personal life or their professional competence based on ink and/or jewelery.

5 moms found this helpful

A health care providers looks never bother me. It's the smells that get me. As long as you are clean and tidy nothing else matters. I've been taken care of by people with full sleeves of ink, tiny little grandmotherly women, big burly guys who could flip me like a pancake in bed, etc. The only ones that disturbed me were the ones leaning over me to fiddle with machines and smelled of unwashed body.

4 moms found this helpful

At least half of the healthcare workers I know have tattoos. But you don't see them as a patient. Scrubs (w/longsleeved undershirt, which almost everyone wears, because it's cold) cover you entirely except for your hands, neck, and face.

Most hospitals and offices have a 'no visible tattoo' policy, so it's a non-issue, how patients feel about tattoos, because patients don't see them. You just cover them. For side of the neck, that's a bandaid, or steristrip, or turtleneck, or choker -depending on placement and what you feel like wearing that day.

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unless it's something obscene or offensive, I dont care. I'd be uncomfortable with a nurse sporting a swastika, for example.

3 moms found this helpful

This reminds me of the old saying, "If you have to ask, then the answer is 'no'". If you have to ask yourself if your dress, for example, is appropriate for the occasion, then the answer is no. There are people, including myself, who will find tattoos unprofessional. There are people who won't. The safest thing to do is cover it up - then you remove the question. I understand that tattoos are intended to be a means of personal expression, but what appeals to you may look ridiculous to me and cause me to question your judgement. Then, you start out "one foot down" with your client/patient. Better to start out on the right foot with everyone and cover the "question".

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Hi B.,

I wouldn't mind this because I know some awesome people who are actually pretty conservative and have tattoos, so just having a tat doesn't make someone a bad / rough / aggressive person.

Honestly, I have a bigger time with healthcare workers who smoke. When I was in labor with my son, the nurses who did my hep lock must have just come in from a smoke break and they REEKED. It made me nauseated. Plus, I have a hard time taking healthcare advice from someone who willingly poisons themselves. = /

Good luck to you in your studies! I would say that your professionalism and warm, friendly bedside manner will be noticed by your patients far more than your tattoo. No worries!

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Would not think twice about it. I would hope it would not bother anyone else
either. Good luck in school.

3 moms found this helpful

I personally wouldn't give it a second thought. I only have 1 tatt, but don't mind when other people have them at all. A nurse at my OB's office has a few and a facial piercing. She's the nicest nurse there. Plus, if they want to judge, then they are going to, but fortunately for you, you will still be doing your job and getting paid and there's nothing they can do about it.

2 moms found this helpful

Honestly, I think heavily tattooed people, like myself, have to prove themselves before flashing the ink. I always keep mine as covered as possible, then as soon as I'm the best employee (I'm competitive yet yearn to help people in management settings), I inquire about the companies policy toward tattoos... I've had dress codes changed in the past so I'm not working in the heat in long sleeves ;)

So until you prove yourself, keep them covered... and that's coming from someone more or less covered in ink ;)

2 moms found this helpful

Do you want honesty? If so, keep reading...

It's going to depend on the field of medicine. Different fields are more stringent. You will probably be judged more harshly by the more "competitive" fields ie a neurosurgeon will not look at you the same way that say a family practice doctor might. The more elite the field academically, generally speaking, the more rigid and conservative it's members will be. This is lessening now, but the old garde is still prevalent. Regardless, I still think that you will run into more trouble with doctors, upper level providers, administration and older patients (and really unless you are doing something like OB or peds, this will be the majority of your patients) than you will with the 40 and under crowd.

So where does this prejudice come from? If you were to look in an older version of the DSM (this is a big psychiatry book that lists symptoms of psychiatric illness and criteria to diagnose), having a certain number of tattooes used to be one of the criteria for diagnosing psychiatric illnesses such as borderline personality and antisocial personality. The newest article I could find was from 1999 (granted from Glasgow, not a US author) that showed a positive correlation between visible tattoos and schizophrenia and related disorders. Since tattoos have become more prevalent and socially acceptable, this criteria has been removed from the latest version of DSM, but it doesn't erase it from every MDs mind who was trained a certain way for years.

Personally, in my office (surgeon), I would steer away from hiring you compared to someone with similar credentials. Is that fair? Well, I when I hire someone, they are expected to reflect the professionalism standards that I set in my office. I personally would never have a tattoo. I know that I have certain patients that would probably be made uncomfortable by visible tattoos. For example, we have a guy who works as a RN's aide in my hospital in the pre-op area with a full sleeve that he leaves uncovered in his scrubs. He's hard working, honest and a really nice guy. Regardless, I've had several older pts comment on how they are uncomfortable in one respect or another. I think the most fair thing is to ensure all of my patients are equally comfortable. I feel it's most fair that in my office that my values can be upheld and reflected by the staff I employ. This doesn't just include tattoos. It includes honesty, fairness, respect and prompt timeliness with all of my patients too. But, that is me and my office. I can tell you that there are many hospitals that allow for employees with visible tattoos. Also, my parents, who were some of the strictest and most conservative people in the world while raising kids, now have several tattoos apiece that they got in their mid 50s. My father is an MD, and my mother works in his office as an embryologist (making the embryos for his IVF clinic). Neither of them became any less competent after being tattooed, but they also keep them strictly covered at work.

2 moms found this helpful

i have no problem with tatts and sleeves. they are more prone to be like us, just normal people and down to earth.

2 moms found this helpful

I personally don't think anything wrong of it...it's not about the tattoo's it's about the way you carry yourself and how you act. I know alot of mom's out here that have them and yet they are very classy gal's.. Now I don't have a problem with piercing's either BUT I will admitt, if anyone is going to do anything in the medical field then they need to present themselves in a proper way..for example..I have seen those "tire" thingy's in some people's ear's and are huge! Or the piercing in their eyebrow or the "monroe" piercing, you want their focus to be on what your saying to them and not your piercing's. But thats just my opinion. Or when someone has a piercing in their toung OUCH! That for some reason grosses me out! (sorry) I have a friend that has it done and everytime she talks that all I notice is the big silver earring in her toung! As far as your tattoo's I don't think you'll have a problem! Hope I was helpful! Good Luck!

2 moms found this helpful

No, I would not care! A tattoo does not define your ability to do your job. If it really bothers you, they have a "concealer" for tattoos. I can't think of the name of it but it work well. Lots of celebs use it!

2 moms found this helpful

if you can do your job then i dont care if they're all over your face lol....i also have tattoos and only one is visible when i wear my hair up which i normally do.....its my sons hand print on the back of my neck....

i actually took one of my kids to the er over the early spring and the best nurse we ever had there ever had alot of facial piercings and i believe it was pink and black hair....

2 moms found this helpful

The main thing I think about when ppl get tattoos in very obvious places is: What in the H*LL were they thinking? Obviously wasn't of the their future careers.

Other than that, I don't think tattoos mean you are less compassionate, competent, hard working or anything like that... just makes me wonder about their forward thinking and common sense.

I'm a Nurse and many fellow students looked so stupid having to cover up their many tattoos because we were not allowed to do our clinicals at ANY hospital with tattoos visible.

2 moms found this helpful

I go to a lot of doctor's offices and hospitals (son has extreme special needs) and I have had no problems what-so-ever with a nurse/health care worker having tattoos, the only problems that I have ever had was with people who did not belong in the health care field especially pediatrics!!

2 moms found this helpful

You should never judge a book by its cover. It wouldn't bother me. Just because they have a tatoo doesn't make them incapable of doing their job or they wouldn't be there. Yes some ppl do judge and that is just wrong. Its the way that you come off to ppl that will make them turn their heads to the tats. If you have an awesome personality and a great bedside manner who cares about the tats! That and you should never worry about what other ppl think. Do your own thing! Good Luck!

2 moms found this helpful

I would not even notice them. I think so many people have them now days that it is much more accepted. I think the Doc's off ice might be the ones that would look twice though. Since it's not an obscene picture or a horror one I think it would even be okay with most of them.

2 moms found this helpful

I think tattoos are demeaning to the person. It's not professional and I would cover it up at work. I know society is changing, but there's still lots of folks who look at tattoos and piercings as cheap, and low class. Just reality!

2 moms found this helpful

I try to judge people by how they act and not how they look. That however is not done by everyone.That being said my husband is covered in tattoos and is a corporate lawyer. You can not see a single tattoo when he is at work and he gets some really funny looks by people who see him out when he is off the clock. It has also brought some business his way too.
I will look at the tattoo and decide IMO if it was done by a good or bad tattoo artist or if it is something that I think the person may have given a little more thought before having put permanently on their body, but I don't let my decision on their works of art sway me on how they do there job.
In addition I have 3 tattoos myself.

1 mom found this helpful

Wouldn't care a bit!

1 mom found this helpful

Doctors, have tattoos too and ride motorcycles and whatnot.
It means, nothing about their capability.
Main thing is looking 'professional' in whatever job you do.
That goes for anyone.

I am not turned off, by those things. Personally.

I have a Tattoo.
I am a Mom.
That does not mean I am any worse or better than any other Mom.

1 mom found this helpful

I personally don't have an issue, since I have a tattoo myself (it's on my ankle, so easily hidden) and many people I work with have tattoos in more visible spots. But that does not mean others will not judge. You could potentially end up working somewhere where they expect tattoos to be covered up and it's simply hospital/clinic policy. A band-aid might just look like you are trying to cover up a hickey. Maybe invest in some heavy-duty cover-up make-up instead if you need to. And don't get any more where they are going to be easily seen, now that you are working toward a career in the medical profession.

1 mom found this helpful

No, not turned off, or put off.
I have had doctors and nurses with tattoos in the past, I see no problem.
My mom is a medical assistant with a tattoo.
I am training to be a phlebotomist and a nurse and eventually go into Pathology Assisting and I have visible tattoos.

My mom is in the medical field, as is her mom, and I am in school for it. I have been around A LOT of doctors, nurses and health professionals,
tattoos do NOT matter.

It's the medical field as long as you are smart, healthy, and not a criminal you can do it.

1 mom found this helpful

umless it's something obscene or vulger I wouldn't think anything of it.

1 mom found this helpful

I wouldn't shy away from treatment from someone who had some ink on them. I had to take my son to the ER about a year ago, and one of the male nurses had lots of tattooes( top to bottom). My son , who was sick was mesmerized by them. The guy was extremely good, patient, and kind. He made my son feel at ease( which is hard to do). It makes no difference.

1 mom found this helpful

I wouldn't care, but you should be more concerned about what a possible employer might think. That's what really matters.

1 mom found this helpful

i would think 'she probably got that when she was very young & didn't have her head on straight, I wonder if she regrets it now'. My sister has a few that fall into this category of young & stupid, it happens.

i wouldn't be *to put off* as long as there wasn't tons that stuck out like a sore thumb

good luck with schooling

1 mom found this helpful

I have no problem with it. My mom was temping at a hospital and they wanted to hire her but was told she would have to hide them. She has one on the back of her neck, one on her leg, one on each hand. She also has tattoo makeup. She told the there was no way she could hide all of them. They kept her as a temp. This was in an office part of the hospital, nowhere near the patients. I think its less like a stigma then it used to be

1 mom found this helpful

I personally don't have an issue with it. However, you may run into problems when you interview for a nursing position. Like you said people judge before they really know you and you may have the best qualifications in the world and the interviewer may not give you a fair chance.

On a side note, congrats on making it to 18! Sounds like you have your life going in a great direction. Best of luck to you in your nursing career.

1 mom found this helpful

I would not have a problem with it, but I guess it depends on what area of the country/what city you are in. Some places are more conservative than others. Having said that, I think the attitude about tattoos is becoming more accepting, and I think that how you wear them make the difference in how you are viewed. For example if you wear harsh make-up and have an "attitude" expression on your face people will judge you differently than if you have a smile and a good attitude.

Good luck~as it should be, the medical field is a diverse group of individuals, and there's also a big demand for caring folks like you!

1 mom found this helpful

I wouldn't think anything of it...

like Beth said - if they aren't vulgar - profanity or have sexual content - then go for it!!!

There's a lot of ink out there and some of them are ABSOLUTELY beautiful!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi B.,

I feel somewhat like Kansas Mom. I'm older too and it's different. People get tattoos for various reasons but there are reasons. When you see someone with a tattoo, it sparks a question as to why someone did that particular tattoo, in that particular place for what particular reason. We really don't know what offends people. I personally wouldn't want anyone to be distracted by my ability to perform a job but musing over what I was thinking. Do I think you perform your job in a lesser capacity? Probably not however when you are in a health care setting you are tending to those in a weakened state and who knows what is going through someones head.

My two cents!

M.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi B.,

I think the tattoo you are describing is tasteful and sounds pretty! So I wouldn't think anything of it if I saw someone with a tattoo on their neck like yours. I try not to pre-judge others---I happen to have tattoos so I don't buy into the whole tattoo stigma that they are drug addicts or troubled teens/adults etc. :) So, if I saw someone covered head to toe, I might do a double take-but I wouldn't think badly of them. I would most likely admire them for their beautiful artwork on their body!

1 mom found this helpful

I really had to think about this question. I've worked in offices for almost 30 years and have always thought that tatoos were completely inappropriate and unprofessional. However, I don't think it would bother me if a health care providerhad a tatoo. Truth is I'm sure I'd be focused on the service she was providing and wouldn't notice a small tatoo.

1 mom found this helpful

I think it's fine! I'm fairly conservative and I have a tat on my neck. Who cares as long as you are great at what you do?

1 mom found this helpful

I personally think tattoos that are not covered by work clothing are unprofessional. Also any piercings except ears and in general health workers do not wear earrings at work.

1 mom found this helpful

I wouldn't care. I do think it's more on the unprofessional side to see people's tattoos, but I wouldn't be upset or irritated or ANYTHING negative at all in having someone with a tattoo care for me or a family member. I think it's totally fine. Some hospitals might have a policy to make you cover it up anyway. But I think you'll be fine:-) Glad you made it until 18 and beyond!

1 mom found this helpful

I am in no way made uncomfortable by people with tats, health care providers included. As long as you are clean, friendly, and don't stick, I have no problem!
My SIL and her boyfriend are both going to nursing school, and they are both highly tattooed. They don't have any that can't be covered up, but they both love their ink!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi B.,

I see you have a lot of responses. I remember reading about a similar post that Rachel asked a few days ago. If you want to read even more opinions on tattoos, here's the thread: http://www.mamapedia.com/questions/17858920349350100993

-J.

I wouldnt feel odd about it...and I am 62 years old...not one of the younger generation that is more used to tattooes!! I wouldnt worry about it at all...your personality and caring attitude will count a lot more than a tattoo!!!

I'd cover it...O. way or the other. Especially a neck tattoo--those are perceived as pretty "gangster" even by tattoo enthusiasts!

It wouldn't bother me one bit! I wouldn't even care if you couldn't even cover any of them.

I have seen it before and it doesn't bother me. As long as it isn't obscene, it's not a problem. If it is obscene, racist, or crass then you should be sure to cover it up. I'm sure your employer will let you know their guidelines for that though. Best Wishes! :)

In answer to your question, a tattoo alone would not make me uncomfortable. If, in addition, to the tattoo you have untraditional piercings, wear flamboyant jewelry, hairstyles, or makeup, and/or do not behave or speak professionally, then I would feel uncomfortable.

The challenge with tattoos in a professional setting is that tattoos carry a host of unprofessional stereotypes. So, I recommend presenting yourself in a way that is exceedingly professional, working against the stereotypes, and thus putting people at ease.

Note, I live in Los Angeles, so opinions on this topic may vary based on geography.

We had a thread about this a few days ago. Im not thrilled with tattoos, but Im used to seeing them and not shocked when I see a person in a business with them. We had an interesting case this week in my town. A man stole checks from a church and tried to cash them. The person at the check cashing place thought something was odd about the situation and called the police. They said, they just didnt think a church would have given a check to the guy with his tattoo. You can search for it if youd like. (Redding man has vulgar tattoo on his forehead). But I can just say, F_ _K YOU on your forehead wouldnt make me want to deal with you in any business. What was he thinking?

I know great people with full sleeve tatoos, but they are making a statement that says they want to be looked at a certain way, To me it isn't a professional look, just like wearing a sequined tube top while you take my blood pressure isn't professional, I don't want the judge deciding if I murdered someone to wear a hawaiian shirt and straw hat. If you want to be taken seriously and professionally cover up, IMHO, since you asked.

I seriously think its going to depends on where you end up. I know in southern ca, tattoos aren't a big deal - heck, one of the pedis that my kid used to see had some, lol! Just about everyone here either has one or knows someone who does.

But I know in other parts of the country/world that it could be a problem. As well as the older population might have some issues because of their perceptions of tattoos. Honestly I wouldn't worry about it. Like you said, you can always cover it!

I think I would be taken aback at first but I do prefer to judge on how someone treats me before judging them by looks but I do hafta say that while it's the person's personal choice to do so, it can be viewed as unprofessional in some fields so I'd say, in respect of the job & for the patient's comfort, cover it w/makeup or like you said, a bandaid, just b/c it, to me, is unprofessional in that particular field. While I might hire someone w/tatoos depending on if they cover them up, I definitly would not hire someone w/certain piercings & would never hire someone w/those horribly hideous 'plugs' in their ears (aka 'stretched out earlobes') but again, some professions are okay w/it. I'd probably change medical facilities if I saw someone working there w/piercings and/or tatoos...but that's just me.

I don't have a problem with it. My hubby is an RN and has been in management for years. He is currently the CCO at an rehab in San Antonio and has several employees with tattoos and piercings, many do take out the piercings when on shift but the tats are not a problem many of his employees volentarily cover them anyway he does not make them. He makes his hiring decisions based on expirence, work history ect. Some of his best employees have tats and if he had been so judgemental as to not hire someone because they had a tattoo he would not have many of the fantastic employees he does.
I don't think you will have any trouble, if you are really concerned about it be upfront with potential employers if they have an issue or if it goes against company dress code and stress that you are willing to cover the tattoo during your shift.
By the way his facility is an upscale private rehab facilty for patients recovering from hip, knee, back, cardiac ect. (Infact they have a building in Richardson also)
Good luck.

Psh. I suppose if you were caring for a generally conservative population, it could be an issue but I'll be honest: my first thought was "how ridiculous" when I saw the title of your question. It's all about the class level of the person. The woman that teaches my daughter's Gymboree class has several tattoos and the only reason I look at them is to figure out the music notes on the staff she has inked around her ankle.

I have my nose pierced and no one's ever batted an eye. My husband has his cartilage pierced AND he had long hair when his VERY conservative boss hired him two years ago.

Of course, it's wonderful for you to be concerned, but I'd like to think someone in need of care would prefer a tattooed but genuinely involved nurse than one w/ no ink but no interest either.

When i had surgery my nurse was covered in tattoos. I did not think twice about it. He was good at his job and had a great bed side manner, that was all that mattered. But I am not one to judge others based on their outside appearance, I find that tacky and shallow. Unfortunately much of our nations falls under that category. With one so small though I would not give it a second thought.

I could care less. When I encounter a medical professional, my first considerations are if the person exudes warmth, compassion and competance. Tatts doen't factor into those judgements- words out of mouth and actions do.

Yes, cover it up. I think Carrie said it best when she suggested that a visible tatoo can give you an automatic 'ding' against you....even before you have a chance to prove otherwise.

It's really not a question of whether having a tatoo is right or wrong....it's about being perceived the way you want to be perceived. And, regardless of what trends have occured over the last 10-15 years, the negative connotation still exists.

To be successful, you have to appeal to the vast majority of people. That tatoo, while perhaps beautiful in your eyes, will definately make others immediately feel less comfortable and confident in your abilities....both personally and professionally.

depends... if the tatoos are of skulls, swear words, knives and rotting zombies all over your neck and face and arms well then I might be a bit worried...

One like yours, I wouldn't mind. I could see like maybe the elderly might mind, so if you end up working in a nursing home or something feel it out and cover if necessary. But I think they have become common enough now that most people don't mind something small and tasteful.

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