Yes, absolutely! There’s no universal stance from nursing authorities on whether or not nurses can have tattoos. However, the facility you work for may have policies on body art. Hospitals, nursing homes, home health care facilities, clinics, and schools all tend to have different types of policies, mainly based on where you work and who you work with.

Additionally, the National Student Nurses Association and the American Nurses Association have no official rule or recommendation about whether or not it is acceptable for nurses to have tattoos. But just like it was stated above, everything falls on the facility, you might not have to cover your tattoos to get and keep a job. But that doesn’t mean you won’t run into judgment or issues if you happen to have a visible tattoo.

As tattoos grow in popularity, healthcare facilities are beginning to change policies and offer more flexibility for those with tattoos. In benefit, this allows more nurses and healthcare professionals to display various tattoos in the workplace and also entails that healthcare facilities can hire a wide range of qualified individuals for needed positions.

As a nurse, it is more common nowadays that you will be able to get away with having a tattoo, even if you work for a facility that doesn’t allow them in its dress code. Workplaces don’t usually hire someone and then ask them to get their tattoos removed.

Howbeit, you might be asked to cover up visible tattoos. If you have a tattoo in a location that is easily coverable, like on top of your foot where it will be covered by a sock and a shoe, you more than likely won’t run into issues.

In this current age, various facilities allow nurses to display their tattoos reasonably freely. This tends to include nurses with wrist tattoos, full-sleeved tattoos, and even neck tattoos. In addition, more conservative facilities may only consider small tattoos (ex. 2″ – 3″) acceptable.

However, note that tattoo placement can be a factor among conservative healthcare centers in terms of what is deemed appropriate. For example, some facilities may determine that face tattoos and/or chest tattoos must be covered or removed. Also, this isn’t all facilities, but it is necessary to understand the guidelines to ensure they are being followed appropriately.

If the tattoo doesn’t fit within guidelines, it may be expected to remain hidden while attending work or college. Aside from tattoo placement, healthcare facilities may restrict tattoos that may be offensive. Therefore, nurses may only be allowed to display non-offensive symbols (i.e., non-sexual, non-racial, non-morbid, and/or non-political tattoos).

Fields such as nurse entrepreneurs have the most freedom since they own their businesses. Also, nurses in the research field or performing telephone triage often have lots of freedom as their appearance is less noticeable. Conversely, those working directly with patients may have sterner restrictions regarding acceptable attire/body art.

Pros and Cons of Nurses Displaying Body Art

Have it in mind that it is quite hard to come to a definitive conclusion about body art. Nonetheless, here are the benefits and drawbacks to displaying body art as a nurse.


  • Builds a bridge: When nurses display body art, it can help their patients relate to them. Note that it shows that they are individuals and it might put the patient more at ease with the nurse. Since many patients have tattoos, it could help to have nurses who look like them.
  • Breaks down stereotypes: Have it in mind that many stereotypes exist for people who display tattoos or piercings. By allowing nurses to display tattoos openly, it helps remove the stereotype.
  • Children sometimes are drawn to tattoos: most times, when children come to hospitals, they are scared and anxious. Seeing a nurse with tattoos and piercings might quiet their anxiety and help divert their attention away from the immediate issue.


  • Assumed criminal background: Some years back, people tend to associate tattoos and piercings with criminals. However, these days that has changed. Though there are still a lot of people out there who make those associations.
  • Unhygienic: Some people may look at tattoos and piercings as dirty. Though modern tattooing and piercing are sanitary, people may view them in another light altogether.

Tips on Choosing a Tattoo If You are a Nurse

Even if your hospital or medical facility allows you to have a tattoo while working as a nurse, it is still important to maintain a professional appearance at work. Howbeit, here are tips to consider;

  1. Employer Policy

Your employer or prospective employer’s tattoo policy should influence your decision. For instance, you shouldn’t get an arm tattoo if your employer greatly opposes lower arm tattoos.

Although tattoos are personal, have it in mind that it is not worth losing your job or being reprimanded over and you should consider the policy seriously in the decision-making process. If you are considering getting a tattoo that could be visible, you should also consider speaking with your manager to make sure they are on board with it.

  1. Placement

There are certain places where a nurse should not get a tattoo. For instance, many institutions ban tattoos that cannot be covered up – this means that neck, lower arm, and hand tattoos are almost always off limits. If you are still thinking of where to get a tattoo, it is ideal to get one on a body part covered fully by your scrubs. That means that a tattoo on your torso, back, or legs is ideal.

  1. Design

A nurse should avoid offensive designs when choosing a tattoo and the ideal tattoos for nurses shouldn’t be large and provocative. Simple things like names, words, or positive images (like flowers or hearts) will typically be acceptable. Once a design is offensive in content, then it is imperative for it to be covered up in working situations.

There are creative ways to cover potentially offensive tattoos, but if you are in the process of picking a tattoo, ensure to avoid anything offensive on parts of your body that you can’t cover. It is best to consider designs that can’t be interpreted in crude or inappropriate ways; this will limit the risk of being scrutinized in the workplace.

  1. Medical Field

Also, note that the types of patients you interact with on a regular basis influence your decision regarding tattoos. Still, depending on your field, you will more or less work with a different subset of people. If you are working with older people that are likely less accepting of tattoos, you may not want to get something you can’t cover-up.

However, some patient populations are more likely to have tattoos of their own. If this is the case, they may relate more to a nurse that also has tattoos. Therefore, the patient population you work with should help decide what kind of tattoo a nurse gets but don’t forget you could change jobs sometimes and might have a different set of viewers.


There are a lot of grey areas when it comes to whether or not nurses can have nose piercings or Tattoos. No matter what type of dress code your facility has, strive to present yourself in an approachable, professional manner to colleagues and patients.

Your patients’ trust and comfort are a priority, and your personal appearance goes a long way in making a good impression and encouraging good communication.