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Being a nurse is fulfilling, but it also means that professionalism is upheld here than in most other professions. Take tattoos and piercings, for instance. Although quite common in all other disciplines, it seems like nurses are not meant or allowed to have as many piercings or tattoos as they want.
And if you are about to join the nursing profession, you might be wondering, ‘can nurses have nose piercings?’ The truth is, this is such a complicated topic, not because it’s not common, but because everyone has a say about it. But not to worry. In this post, I’ll be going in-depth on the issue of whether nurses can have nose piercings.
Before that, if you are wondering, ‘can nurses have tattoos?’, check out this previous post.
Now let’s dive in.
Can a Nurse Have Nose Piercings?
The simple answer may be yes… but it will depend on the health system or facility you work with. See, most facilities do allow piercings, especially on the ears. On the other hand, some facilities may require that you remove your studs and hoops during work hours.
Other hospitals fall in the middle ground on the issue of nurses and nose piercings. They may require that you only come with a tiny, clear-colored stud or avoid overly large loops and huge eye-catching rings.
In fact, whether you can have piercings or not as a nurse solely comes down to the facility you choose to work with. And that’s the good thing. It’s up to you to decide which facility you will work with, which makes it easier to determine whether to get a nose piercing or not.
Reviewing all health systems won’t be practical, but we can touch on a few and their stand on nurses having nose piercings.
Health Networks’ Policies on Nurses Having Nose Piercings
In its dress code, Mission Health System, owned by HCA, advises its medical professionals to keep jewelry at a minimum. They cite safety as the reason for this rule. For instance, the Mission Health System limits ear piercings to just three and allows a nose stud not larger than a pinhead. The stud should also be flush with the nose.
The health system allows nose hoops and rings for medical professionals, but they should be less than one inch wide and long. Also, they prohibit any type of piercings that may pose a risk to patients, employees or create an infection control hazard. (I’m guessing overly large hoops that are easy to be yanked out by a disgruntled patient)
In 2018, Indiana Health System revised their policies and now allow nurses to have visible tattoos and piercings. This licensure should be capped within reasonable logic (again, meaning that you should wear jewelry in moderation)
The Eskenazi Health System seems to allow nose piercings but completely prohibits tongue piercings. I couldn’t find the actual staff policy dress code for Mayo Clinic, but I did find this one for volunteers.
In their policy, Mayo Clinic prohibits body art such as tattoos but is more lenient on piercings. This is what they say in their policy regarding nurses’ nose piercings. ” Tongue and facial jewelry are not acceptable, except the nose piercing.”
Cleveland Clinic Health System does not allow nose piercings. Nurses can have earrings, but other facial piercings are out of bounds. And even then, nurses can only wear two simple earrings at most while working. Likewise, the St. Joseph Health System finds nose piercings and bow or lip piercings unacceptable.
On the other end, Ascension Health allows nose piercing, as is clear from this Indeed thread. St Elizabeth, a part of Ascension Health, states that volunteers can have facial piercings.
Other health systems like the Community Health network are in the process of revising the restrictive policies. Kris Kirschner, the Network’s spokesperson, says they already have a committee in place to review the dress code standards.
After reviewing the policies above, here’s what we can summarize:
Stud Nose Piercings
Most health facilities have no issue with nurses with nose piercings, especially when they are studs. The standard policy is for the studs to be small(think pin size) and more of a shade closer to your skin color.
It seems that most hospitals take issue with nose rings and don’t allow nurses to wear them during work hours. They give safety reasons as backing to these decisions. However, other facilities allow nurses to have a nose ring, as long as it’s small, around one inch in length and width.
What About Other Facial Piercings?
Tongue piercings seem like a no-gone zone for nurses, and the same could be said for lip piercing and brow piercing. It’s probably more to do with keeping it professional. Generally, as a nurse, I think it’s best to avoid piercings on the following:
- Or huge studs, hoops, and rings
Do Nursing Schools Allow Students to Have Nose Piercings?
Not really. It looks like nursing schools have more restrictive dressing policies than hospitals. This can be explained by a study to determine what perception hospital patrons had towards nurses with piercings.
In this study, most patrons in a facility across the southeastern US felt that piercings affected practicum students’ competency, professionalism, and trustworthiness. So how do nose piercings policies look like in US nursing schools?
For James Madison School of Nursing, students are not allowed to have visible piercings during practicum. According to their site, nursing students should not wear tongue bars, nose, or brow jewelry at their training.
Jon Hopkins School of Nursing also holds the same views. Apart from one small earring, they do not allow other piercings in clinical areas. Dangling and hooped piercings are prohibited for nursing students.
As for UCLA Nursing School, jewelry is limited to just a wedding band, a watch, and a pair of earrings. Earrings should be small and not dangle. They do not allow any other type of facial piercings.
Why is the Medical Field Cautious About Nose Piercings in Nurses?
It’s no secret that medical facilities have stringent policies where image is concerned. This comes down to maintaining a neutral appearance facility-wide as the nature of medicine is quite sensitive. So why exactly are piercings and tattoos such a big deal in medical settings?
Nose Piercings Have Long Been Linked to the Wrong Side of Society
Yes, this may not still be a thing, where only rock listening gangs have facial piercings, but the effects still linger. Studies have shown that patients may think of a nurse or other medical professional as unprofessional for having a nose piercing.
The good news is that this type of attitude seems to be reducing as more people become accepting.
Some People Think It’s Unhygienic
Not everyone understands that piercings are done in clean, sterile, and approved places. Some still have an image of dark rooms, cigarette smoke, and rock band posters as the origin of piercings. Patients may interpret this as unhygienic and probably give you a hard time when trying to help care for them.
On the other end, some believe that piercings are an open flood gate to passing bacteria and causing infections.
Piercings are Controversial
Whether we like it or not, facial piercings have always been a subject of controversy. Whether in nursing school or the workplace, you will be interacting with people from different walks of life. The thing is, each of them has a different view of piercings, sometimes good and sometimes bad.
A nose piercing might affect your chance of appearing neutral from a patient’s perspective and possibly affect the care you provide.
What To Consider Before Getting A Nose Ring As A Nurse
Your Workplace Policies
Hospitals will have different policies, so it’s always best to check your workplace’s stand on the issue. Some will have no problem with nose piercings, while others will require that you altogether remove them. If your piercing is healed, this won’t be a big deal, but if it’s not, you may need to look for a workaround.
So, make sure to consult if your workplace allows nurses to have piercings. Or at least if they are okay with smaller-sized rings and studs.
Age of Your Patients
It’s interesting that age influences so much about people’s perceptions of different things. Nose piercings in nurses are one of them. If you work with millennials and the Gen Xs, then having a nose piercing will most probably not look unprofessional or unhygienic to them.
On the other hand, an older patient population may have different unsupportive views about nose piercings. This may make it harder to provide the care they need if they have a wrong perception of you.
Of course, it could go either way. You can have conservative millennials and pretty cool older patients who just don’t mind a nose piercing. However, the priority should be providing the best care to patients regardless of their beliefs or prejudices.
Your Everyday Tasks
When working in the pediatric unit, having a large sparkling nose ring is a disaster waiting to happen(You know, kids and shiny things). That’s why you need to consider which hospital unit you’ll be working in and what tasks you’ll have each day.
Will your tasks make you accidentally pull, push, or get your nose ring stuck on things? Once you’ve got these questions answered, you can better decide the placement and size of your stud or ring.
What If Your Workplace Doesn’t Allow Nurses to Have Nose Piercings?
Hide the piercing
For nurses with a septum piercing, this is pretty much an easy thing to do. You only have to flip it up, and no one will notice that it was even there. If you want a nose piercing that’s unproblematic with workplace policies, a septum piercing is your best bet. But what if it’s a side nose ring? Below is an option to consider.
Sacrifices, remember? This might have to be one of the sacrifices you make to do your job without clashing with patients or management. When your hospital facility is adamant about nurses having a nose piercing, there’s not much you can do but remove it. Unlike tattoos, you can do this in seconds and have it back on when you’re done with your shifts. Or if it’s a stud-type earring…
Get A Skin Colored Stud
You can still keep your nose piercing and your nursing job with a skin-colored stud. Patients will hardly notice it, as it’s the shade of your skin color and small enough not to draw attention. Alternatively, you can get a tiny stud that lays flush against your nose.
Consider Another Piercing Placement
If you can’t do any of the above, then the best option might be to consider another piercing placement, like the ear. It’s an understandable compromise to make without conflicting with patients or supervisors. Plus, you don’t have to deal with any stereotyping that makes your day more difficult than necessary.
Pros of Having A Nose Piercing As A Nurse
Easy Way to Build Rapports with Patients
Some patients love tattoos and all things piercings which can be an excellent conversation starter. Patients can ask why or when you got your piercing or how many more you have. At the end of the day, if you’ve got something to start a conversation with, then providing care to patients becomes a WHOLE lot easier.
A Bridge Towards Building A Connection
As human beings, we find it easier to build relationships with people who have things in common with us… such as piercings, tattoos, or beliefs. So don’t be surprised if your piercings become the first step towards a deep connection and trust with patients.
Cons of having a nose piercing as a nurse
Accidents With Difficult Patients
Medical facilities usually place bans on face jewelry, and it’s for a good reason in many cases. As a nurse, you interact with people who have different motives and health situations daily.
Sometimes, these interactions can turn nasty, with some patients getting physical. It’s rare, but once it happens, it causes more damage than expected… such as an out-of-control patient reaching for your nose hoop and pulling.
That’s why hospitals may place tighter restrictions for specific units such as the NICU, emergency rooms, and ICUs.
Can Deny You An Opportunity To Work At Your Dream Facility
For facilities with stringent policies, having a nurse show up with a humongous ring and an eyebrow piercing may not be their definition of the ‘professional nurse we want.’ This can feel unfair, but even with procedures in place, most decisions are still influenced by our underlying stereotypes and beliefs.
May Limit Your Career Advancement
Similar to the case above, a nose piercing may limit advancement in your nursing career. The subtle beliefs about how facial piercings and nursing don’t mix may see you missing out on promotion opportunities. Hence, if you decide to have a nose piercing, make sure your hospital doesn’t put too much focus on appearance rather than competence.
Even better, ask whether they do allow piercings during the interview process. This will make it easy for you to decide whether to stay or find a different hospital.
Lack of Trust With Your Patient
Lack of trust seems far-fetched, but one reader’s response was quite interesting following the published results of a study on patients’ perceptions towards medical professionals. They said, “I would be horrified to see tattoos or a nose ring on an attending doctor because it would suggest a risk-taking personality that might impact on my own care and health.”
So, for some patients, it’s not about hygiene or professionalism. It’s a question of whether they can trust you with their health if they consider you a risk-taker.
But on the other hand, patients are usually looking for nurses with compassion, kindness, and a willingness to help them recover. Following the publication of the same results, another person said, “If I were admitted to an emergency department I wouldn’t mind what the doctor was wearing – tattoos, nose rings, etc, as long as he/she had kind eyes and a voice to match.”
For most patients, it’s more about how you treat them, both as a patient and human being, and not so much about how you look. Or the piercings you choose to have.
Can nurses have a nose piercing? The answer is yes…but within reason. Each hospital and health network will have its own policies on the matter. They may accept piercing partially with regulations such as a small stud or skin-colored ones.
They may also completely rule out nose piercings for nurses. If they don’t allow nurses to have nose piercings, it’s only a matter of removing them. If they do, you are in luck.
Either way, ensure that you understand your patients and how your appearance may affect them and their trust in you. Also, keep in mind how having a nose piercing as a nurse can affect your long-term career.
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