Missouri college bars tattoos for nursing students - KMOV.com

Missouri college bars tattoos for nursing students

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) -- Some Missouri Southern State University nursing school students are upset about an admission policy barring visible tattoos.

The Joplin Globe reports that the policy is included in the 2009 school handbook for nursing students. Any tattoos that are visible while students are wearing their uniforms are not allowed.

The standard uniform for nursing students at the university is short-sleeved scrubs.

Missouri Southern spokesman Rod Surber says the no-visible-tattoo policy at the nursing school will help students who will be entering a field in which some hospitals might have a similar guideline.

Tina Shadwick has wanted to be a nurse since high school, but the 40-year-old didn't go back to school to pursue a degree in nursing until after raising her children. But a tattoo of tulips located a few inches from her wrist is blocking her admission.

"In a no-nonsense way, I was told that that is their policy," Shadwick said. "They showed me in the handbook where it says the policy is no tattoos that can't be covered by scrubs."

Twenty-six-year-old Elizabeth Arnold, said she encountered a similar situation.

She has four tattoos that are visible: a strawberry about the size of a quarter on the back of her neck; two flowers and a lace pattern on her upper arms designed to look like the centerpiece of her wedding dress; and a butterfly on her chest.

She says she covers them up by wearing her hair down or in a braid, and with another shirt under her scrub top.

Both Shadwick and Arnold are taking the prerequisite classes for entrance to Southern's nursing program, and both planned to apply in January.

Both women say the school's policy is at odds with those at other area nursing schools as well as the local employers where they hope to eventually work.

But the school stands firm.

"Essentially, the reason for the policy is because some hospitals have a policy against tattooing," Surber said. "We have to meet the highest standards so we can place our students in any institution."

He said tattoos on the hands could pose an infectious disease risk, even if a student covered the ink with a bandage.

"We don't want our student nurses spending four years here and then find out they might be prohibited from entering a job because they have a tattoo," he said.

Other area schools have different rules.

Pittsburg (Kan.) State University requires tattoos to be covered.

Peggy Tottman, an administrative specialist for the nursing department at PSU, said students who have visible tattoos are allowed to cover them.

"Some tattoos are questionable, you know, but we have a lot of students for whom tattoos are just a part of society," she said. "How does (having a tattoo) inhibit you? It doesn't."

D'Ann Dennis of the nursing program at Crowder College in Neosho said students there must keep any visible tattoo covered.

"As long as (a tattoo) is covered, we're OK with it," Dennis said. "They can wear a bandage or a lab coat, as long as it's covered."

St. John's Regional Medical Center in Joplin allows hospital employees to have tattoos, but they can't be visible, said Miranda Lewis, media and promotions coordinator.

Powered by Frankly