Are Beards A DO Or DON’T In Nursing?

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.

Are beards a health hazard in the nursing profession? Or just an expression of style that doesn’t hinder the job in any way? A reader wrote in asking about our readers’ experiences with male nurses and beards, so we turned to the experts–YOU! We asked our Facebook fans whether they thought beards on male nurses are a DO or a DON’T. Read on for their thoughts…then share yours in the comments below!

They’re a DON’T:

I think it’s a DON’T due to falling hair and open wounds.
Sheryl T. 

In my hospital males aren’t allowed to have beards because they prevent a proper seal when using N95 respirators.
Lynette J.

I don’t think it projects a professional image. And it can be unsanitary.
Jen O.

A DON’T. Even if it’s short, it’s still untidy for me. Where are the practices from college days? No beards, no long nails, no nail polish, etc. Aside from looking neat and clean, it reduces the risk of infection.
Edjs L. 

They’re a DO:

I am a bald man with a beard who happens to be a nurse. Some days I look like a lumberjack and other days it’s clean and trimmed. My patients do not judge me on it; rather they judge me on my care, my attentiveness to their health and their need for a health care advocate. If my beard hindered my career, it would be shaved. I do not consider my career a beauty pageant; it’s an experience that covers you in feces, blood, sweat, tears, urine and every other bodily fluid. After all that in a day, don’t tell a man to shave the beard.
Marc B.

If it’s groomed and well kept, what’s the problem?
Judi E.

It depends on the type of nursing. I’m not sure if a bearded gentlemen can pass a respirator fit test to protect him from TB. And I don’t know if there are beard guards available for surgical nurses to prevent contamination. With those exceptions, a man’s beard is no different than a woman’s hair and should be groomed, maintained and not get in the way of providing quality nursing care.
Deanna L.

As long as you keep it tight and clean, I see no problem with it. My patients actually comment about [mine] positively quite often.
Bob S.

What do you think: Is a beard on a male nurse a DO or a DON’T? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.

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14 COMMENTS

  1. I really don’t care if a nurse has a beard, its a personal choice and beards can and are as diverse as hairstyles. That being said, like any visible hair on any healthcare professional I do expect it to be clean and restrained if it is long. The only negative I have experienced with bearded nurses is them not being able to be assigned to care for patients on respiratory isolation because the masks do not fit properly. And just changing the assignment to accommodate the bearded nurse can breed malcontent on the busy unit, as that RN not only isn’t assigned that patient, he also is not able to enter the room to assist with care, respond to an emergency, answer a call bell, or cover for lunch, etc. PAPR hoods change everything, but until they are available in your hospital , nix the beard if you are required to care for respiratory isolation patients – NURSES, DOCTORS, CNAs, RTs- everyone who’s job it is to enter a patients room.

  2. This discussion is a bleed over from discussion on men in nursing. One comment said beards we’re unsanitary?? That was pretty obviously someone’s prejudice.Face it gals ( and I speak to the older crowd mostly) Guys are here to stay! And no we are not “male nurses” any more than you are “female nurses” no where on any of our licenses does it have a place for gender.
    So let’s start acting more professional and stop stereotyping and all work together as a team. Reveling in our strengths and helping each other through our weaknesses.

    • I think we need more males in nursing. I am retired after about 40yrs as a nurse. Beards are really no different than nurses with long hair and not pinned back. Grooming is the key. I loved to work with the male nurses more than the females. We all knew our places.

  3. Seems like a personal decision & some religions require adherents to NOT shave, so…
    (Let’s ALL spend more time on issues that directly affect patient care maybe? Just sayin’, ya know?)

  4. No,as previous people have said. ,can’t fit a mask properly, they have dandruff also ,a day old shameless look OK,BUT I ALSO SEE FEMALE NURSES WEARING THEIR LONG HAIR DOWN ,we were tauught long hair should be held up for sanitary reasons,

  5. Keep the beards! Most patients love them as they often have close family members and friends who have the same. Makes the male nurse seem more human and in touch with current times. Most everyone wants good care, not picture perfect nurses.

  6. Beards are ok, as long as they’re properly managed, just as long hair would be. As far as N-95 masks and TB, some hospitals use PAPR hoods to avoid the risk of improper N-95 mask seal in a population of employees that is constantly in the move in patient rooms. PAPR hoods with a functional hepa filter are much more reliable, and provide better overall protection for people with and without beards.

  7. Beards, totally depends on what kind of nursing, and always well groomed and trimmed. Side comment here… I was an inpatient last fall and the hospital had all kinds of infection reduction procedures. When I was brought up from the trauma ER they bathed me head to toe in antibacterial, said it was there protocol for all admissions. Then each shift they stuck bactriban up my nose due to potential MRSA. However each nurse who came in had long hair, they drug across me each assessment and I assume it also drug on the patients in the other rooms. I was annoyed. When I was in school we were taught to keep our hair up or back, so that it never touched a patient. All their protocols to reduce infections will be useless if they don’t address this!!

  8. depends upon where you are nursing… direct care, need for a respirator a no… working administrative or non-direct care a yes…. as with all nurses we should be neat and clean…

  9. A beard, like any hair, should be neat and well-maintained. Too many nurses wear their hair hanging down loose and then just brush it away while doing patient care. Why? As a patient, I don’t want hair hanging over me and as a nurse, I don’t want my hair contaminated by a patient coughing on it. My husband is a nurse with a beard that he keeps short and well groomed. No problem. My son has a longer, wilder beard. Thankfully he’s not a nurse-I wouldn’t want him near me!

  10. A do. It’s not hard to keep a beard trimmed and keep stray hairs from being able to fall out of it, it’s as simple as a comb stroking through the beard. As far as it falling in wounds, wear a mask over it if you’re that concerned? We don’t make women shave their long hairs for cleaning a wound so why have a double standard because of an outdated practice based on beauty standards? As far as TB goes, beards are perfectly acceptable if using a papper mask, and it’s as easy as an assignment change if you don’t have one which most facilities do.

  11. Female nurses are now allowed to have their hair long and free while working; I see no difference in the risk of infection between that and beards on men. In fact, long hair can fall into places it doesn’t belong when not tied back or pinned up which beards are unlikely to do.

    • Good answer Rebecca. My husband and I are both nurses. I don’t nag him about his beard since he knows the importance of keeping it well – groomed. However, I see female nurses which touch their hair all day long with clean gloves on and then after touching pt’s open skin or body fluids with dirty gloves, sometimes unintentionally.

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