How to Write a Nursing Resume
Nursing is one of the fastest-growing job markets in the US. While that means there is no shortage of available nursing vacancies, it also means there are a lot of other applicants.
You can greatly improve your chances of landing your ideal job by writing a nursing resume tailored to each position you apply for.
Most nursing vacancies attract a high level of applications. An employer’s key goals are therefore to sort through applications as efficiently and quickly as possible, identify applicants who are suitable for interview and, most importantly, find the right person for the job.
An employer is therefore looking for the following in a nursing resume:
A clear layout – This makes it easy to find the information the employer needs; for instance, work experience, achievements and education
Career goals – An indication of the candidate’s career goals is useful as employers will be aiming to reduce staff turnover
Appropriate skills – Listing your skills that are applicable to the role will demonstrate your relevance as a potential employee
Write your resume with these factors in mind to help you stand out from the crowd.
Each nursing job will vary in the exact knowledge and experience needed to fulfill that role.
Nursing job adverts and descriptions will provide detailed information about which skills the related vacancy requires, but there are several generalized key skill areas that you should consider when writing your nursing resume:
Basic nursing skills include but are not limited to:
- Wound treatment and dressing
- Administering medication
- Checking the patient’s blood pressure, pulse or temperature
- Assisting the patient with hygiene
- Lifting and assisting the patient to move; for instance, from bed to wheelchair
- Inserting intravenous tubes and catheters
- Understanding, following and maintaining a patient’s healthcare plan
A nursing role may require specialist knowledge or be contained to a particular age group or area of nursing, but your resume should demonstrate that you have up-to-date basic nursing care skills.
Nursing technical skills include but are not limited to:
- Emergency nursing care
- Assessing a patient to understand the level and effects of a stroke
- Monitoring fetal heart rate
- Taking blood from a patient
- Carrying out MRI scans or X-rays
The area of nursing covered by the role – the specialism – will decide many of the skills and experience required.
Nursing specialisms include:
- Community nursing
- Critical care
- Mental health nursing
- Elderly care
- Palliative care
- Theatre nursing
Administrative skills in a nursing context include but are not limited to:
- Communicating with the patient’s family
- Keeping records; for instance, of blood pressure or temperature
- Labelling samples and ensuring they are sent to the correct department
- Communicating with a doctor or consultant about a patient’s treatment and progress
- Training other nursing staff
You may be asked to use a computer to:
- Access a patient’s electronic medical record
- Assign billing codes
- Track the progress of a sample
- Communicate with a separate hospital or medical practice
- Order supplies
Soft skills are aspects of your personality that affect how you behave in a work environment.
Soft skills that employers want to see in their nursing workforce include:
Teamwork – Working well alongside a team of nurses and other healthcare professionals.
Being caring and understanding – A nurse must genuinely care about the patients they treat and have the empathy to understand what a patient is going through and why they react in the way they do.
Communication – A nurse is often the point of contact between a doctor and a patient. They must be able to communicate effectively to convey instructions to the patient, news to the patient’s family and information to a whole range of healthcare professionals ranging from nurses and doctors to specialist consultants.
Time management – Working in a busy and often unpredictable environment, nurses must be able to manage their time effectively.
An eye for detail – Missing a detail in a healthcare environment can have disastrous consequences for a patient. A nurse must pay attention to every detail in a patient’s treatment; for instance, ensuring that the exact dosage of medication is administered.
Adaptability – In an ever-changing and generally busy nursing environment, a nurse must be able to adapt to whatever challenges present themselves, assessing the situation quickly and calmly.
Stamina – A nursing role can be taxing physically, mentally and emotionally. A nurse may be on their feet for much of their shift, work long hours, lift and move patients, be expected to make quick decisions in changing situations, and emotionally support patients and their families.
Professionalism – A nurse is expected to act professionally at all times. They must represent their employer and their profession in a respectful, confident and polite way, taking the role and its responsibilities seriously.
Each time you apply for a new role, your nursing resume should be tailor-written to suit that vacancy. The purpose of this tailoring is to demonstrate your suitability for that specific role.
Before you begin to write your resume, read through the job advert and description so that you can answer these questions:
- What aspects of your work experience match the job you wish to apply for?
- What skills do you have that would be a good fit?
- Do you hold the required qualifications?
- What else makes you an excellent candidate for the job?
Once you have answers to the above questions, you are ready to write your nursing resume.
For a nursing position, an employer wants to easily find information about your qualifications and work experience.
A reverse-chronological format, where your work experience reads from the most recent role and finishes with the earliest, is ideal.
Keep your nursing resume to a maximum length of two pages. Use double line spacing and a clear, unfussy font that is easy to scan-read.
This section has two purposes – contact details and identification.
The personal details section of your nursing resume should include:
- Telephone number
- Email address
- Nursing license type and number
Do not state your age or date of birth, marital status, ethnicity, or place of birth.
If it is relevant to the role, you can include that you have a driving license.
Sometimes called a resume objective, your personal statement is a paragraph that explains who you are, the type of role you are looking for, what career goals you have, your skills, and generally what you can bring to the job.
Here is an example:
A self-motivated, capable general RN with eight years’ experience in a hospital setting, the last three years working in palliative care. Possesses a BSc in Nursing and is currently working towards HPCC Hospice and Palliative Nurse certification.
Your personal statement provides a brief explanation of what the employer can expect from the rest of your nursing resume.
Begin with your current or most recent position. Make sure you include:
- Job title
- Dates of employment
- A bulleted list of achievements, tasks and responsibilities
Alongside your daily tasks and responsibilities, also mention your achievements and the soft skills you used in your past jobs.
Successfully supervised a team of six nurses working on an elder care mental health unit.
Your nursing qualifications are paramount in this section but remember to list your non-nursing qualifications and education too, such as your high school diploma.
Begin this section with your highest nursing qualification, followed by lower-level nursing qualifications. Include any licenses you hold.
Next, list any nursing certifications, awards and honors.
After you have stated all of your nursing qualifications, list the non-nursing qualifications and education.
For each item in this section, state where you studied and when.
If you have recently qualified as a nurse or are still mid-course, writing an impressive nursing resume that will grab an employer’s eye is well within your grasp.
As with any job application, the first stage is to scour the job advert and description for what the role entails.
Next, look at your skills and experience, including soft skills. Where is there a match?
You may not have worked as an employed nurse, but you will have developed nursing experience through your training. Focus on that, what you have achieved throughout your training, and the skills you have developed and used in a nursing context.
Use your personal statement to explain your career ambitions and any specialism you are attracted to.
Finally, look at your non-nursing experience, education and interests.
Beyond knowing what to include, here are more things you can do to write a nursing resume that stands out:
However well-crafted your resume is, it is important that you thoroughly check it for typing mistakes, misspellings and bad grammar.
Take your time to read through your resume, correct any errors, and then read it through again.
It may help to take a break between corrections and a second proofread.
When you write your work experience section, quantify your tasks and responsibilities by adding details such as the size of the team you worked with, the number of patients you cared for and the specifics of the care you provided.
Paint a full picture to show your expertise and performance.
Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are used by many US employers to sort through job applications. One of the key sorting methods used by an ATS is a search for keywords that match the job vacancy.
In a nursing context, keywords could include:
- Mental health
Find keywords in the job advert and description and include those in your resume to improve your chances of selection.
Roberta Walker, RN Licence 234567
5420 Blake Avenue, Richmond, VA
Caring, hard-working registered nurse with over six years’ experience across intensive care, chronic disease care, and more recently elder palliative care. Skilled in assessment and treatment of chronically ill patients.
Palliative Care Nurse
Virginia Elder Care, Richmond, VA
September 2018 to present
- Maintained high levels of patient care through my medical expertise, good communication skills and compassion
- Helped patients near the end of their life who experienced pain, difficulty breathing and other symptoms, through the administering of medication and working with their caregivers
- Implemented palliative care plans
- Followed clinical care plans for patients with complex and chronic conditions
- Supported patients and their families, physically and psycho-socially, alongside other healthcare professionals
Primary Care and Chronic Disease Nurse
Carolinas Medical Center, Charleston, SC
September 2016 – September 2018
- Involved in chronic disease management, working alongside and supervising colleagues
- Prescribed medication following clinical assessment
- Organised the collation of health and wellbeing-related data, and used this data to promote awareness
- Diagnosed and treated patients with complex or emergency conditions, in coordination with other healthcare professionals
Intensive Care Clinical Nurse
Carolinas Medical Center, Charleston, SC
July 2014 – September 2016
- Followed patient care plans further to physician assessments
- Cared for patients in recovery from medical or surgical procedures, including wound care and pain management
- Worked as a member of a team of nurses caring for a 24-bed unit
- Kept patient charts up to date
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Catholic University, Washington, DC: 2010 – 2014)
- Adult and Geriatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Certificate
- Hospice and Palliative Nurse Advanced Certificate
By using the best format for your nursing resume, focusing on what employers are looking for, and demonstrating your skills and experience in the best way possible, you can craft a job application that will vastly improve your chances of landing your ideal nursing role.