What to make of healthcare workers’ piercings and tattoos

The first time I saw a nursing home staff member with a tongue piercing, I shuddered. It looked painful. Since I never thought of having one myself, I wondered about those who did. I also thought the piercings could cause mouth infections and was told these people had to use an antiseptic wash for preventative care.

Five years ago, residents at the facility I was in were informed that healthcare workers had to remove their facial piercings and cover tattoos. As time passed, most workers felt they had the right to allow their body art to show. None got in trouble for disobeying policy, nor were they asked to remove piercings or cover tattoos.

I do not like seeing visible tattoos because I think they are unprofessional, and I feel the same way about facial piercings (such as through the nose or the more extreme philtrum piercing). I understand that things are different today. But when I was brought up in the 1950s and 60s, tattoos were not in vogue. I was not allowed to get my ears pierced until I was 18 and I am sure that my parents would have frowned on a visible tattoo. It was just a different time.

I do have to admit that I have seen genuine art tattooed on some healthcare workers. I have asked many questions about particular tattoos and heard some interesting stories. But I still do not understand why someone would want to put a permanent picture on their body.

Lately, at this facility there have been more tattoos—particularly on women's necks. When a friend visited me recently, she questioned why aides were not required to cover them for work. Perhaps our opinions are based on our ages (over 60).

If I ran a facility, I would want workers to remove the piercings’ posts or rings and cover visible tattoos. I know that policy would not endear me to some employees. But I think visible body art takes away from an otherwise neatly dressed healthcare worker.

Please share your feelings on tattoos/piercings, or your facility's policy regarding them.

Topics: Staffing