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What to Include in a Nursing Resume


The variables of accomplishments and experience of nursing candidates are many, from the type of facility and unit you've worked, the number of beds, skills outside your primary area, education, and certification. With so much information to include, you may wonder how you'll put it all together; but, by examining well-written nursing resume samples and considering the options presented here, you'll find that if you approach it one step at a time, you'll end up with a well-ordered resume that clearly highlights your skills and qualifications.

While there are a few formatting options to choose from, like chronological, functional, and a combination, there are certain basics common to all.

In the chronological style, the focus is on presenting your work history in reverse chronological order, with significant accomplishments listed for each position. For those with no employment gaps and a traditional career path, this style works well. The recommended sections for a chronological resume are:
  • Contact info (name/phone/email)
  • Resume summary
  • Work experience
  • Skills
  • Education

The functional style focuses more on accomplishments than employment history by providing an opportunity to list your career achievements in an Accomplishments section which is inserted prior to the Work Experience section. This approach is advantageous for those with employment gaps or who are considering a career change and don't want to be identified by their previous employment. Recommended sections for this style are:
  • Contact info (name/phone/email)
  • Resume summary
  • Accomplishments (new section)
  • Work experience
  • Skills
  • Education

Once you've completed the accomplishments section, the work experience section will be a basic list of previous jobs.

You can find examples of both styles, and how to write a combination style resume by researching nursing resume samples in various formats. There's no cookie-cutter style or right way to write a nursing resume. It's up to you to decide what works best for you.

How to Write the Nursing Resume Summary Statement


Since the resume summary is the first section a potential employer will read, it's important to describe yourself honestly, but as close to the nurse they're looking for as you can. As you compose your resume summary, there are a few things to keep in mind:
  • A resume summary is your best description of what you've done in your career, and, if possible, how your actions improved the organization.
  • The recommended maximum length is three sentences, so take the time to craft each one well.
  • By making a conscious effort to begin sentences with action verbs, you'll not only describe yourself in action, you'll eliminate the first-person pronouns like I, and we, which don't belong anywhere in your resume.
  • By reviewing nursing resume samples, you'll get a flavor of the tone and style of a well-crafted resume summary.

Below are two examples of nursing resume summaries:

Bi-lingual critical care RN with experience in pediatric intensive care, neonatal and cardiac care units. Promoted to Charge Nurse because of demonstrated leadership skills. Instructed staff on use of Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system. Floated to the Level 1 trauma unit when needed.

RN with over 10 years experience in a 25 bed psychiatric unit of a 400 bed community hospital. Maintained a caseload of up to 15 patients. Supervised medication schedules, maintained safe environment, and used restraining techniques when necessary with compassion and understanding. Through accurate medical record keeping, contributed to successful audit of the unit.

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How to Write the Nursing Work Experience Section


By this point, you should have decided whether you're going with the chronological or functional resume style. If you're still undecided, go back to the nursing resume samples you've identified and compare the two styles, not only for appearance but how they put forth the relevant information.

The work experience section in the chronological style begins with your most recent employment. List the organization/location, period of employment, and job title. Each job will be a sub-heading. The hard part is creating 3-6 bullet points for each job that highlight your accomplishments, and, if possible, how your actions positively impacted the organization.

If you're going with the functional style, before you create the work experience section, insert the Accomplishments section, where you'll have the advantage of highlighting all of your best achievements and successes in one place without linking them to any specific employer. Since you have your entire nursing career to draw from, you should be able to come up with at least 6-8 bullet points.

Here are a few examples of bullet points that can be used in either format:
  • Consistently adhered to the protocols, norms, and regulations related to medical records maintenance, resulting in merit award for accuracy.
  • Promoted to Floor Charge Nurse responsible for 60 bed short-term care unit.
  • Conducted community outreach programs like blood drives, general health screenings, immunization clinics, and educating the public on symptoms of disease.

If you narrow your search of nursing resume samples to your specialty, you'll probably find many examples of accomplishments that also apply to your experience.

Action Verbs to Include in Your Nursing Work Experience Section


Since the nursing profession is so hands-on, if you think of your daily activities in the performance of your job, you should be able to come up with action verbs to use to describe your experience. A quick review of nursing resume samples should provide more. Following is a list of action verbs to help guide your thinking away from responsibilities and toward your actual accomplishments:
  • Administer
  • Record
  • Observe
  • Consult
  • Operate
  • Monitor
  • Analyze
  • Teach
  • Explain
  • Screen
  • Counsel
  • Educate
  • Advise
  • Check
  • Change
  • Provide
  • Report
  • Perform
  • Support
  • Float

How to Write the Nursing Skills Section


By referring to the employer's job description, you'll be able to prioritize your skills based on their needs, and in nursing, there are some technical skills that employers want to see, even if they're not a job requirement. You can go back to the nursing resume samples you've identified for formatting suggestions and even some possible skills you have but hadn't considered.

By identifying appropriate categories, you can list your skills in an easy to read, logical format. The following examples certainly don't apply to every nursing specialty but are examples of one possible way to identify your skills:

Technical Skills:
  • Lumbar punctures techniques and conscious sedation
  • Tube feedings and ostomy care
  • Starting and managing IVs
  • Dialysis and management of urinary diversion devices
  • Balloon pumps, 12-lead placements, 12-lead interpretation, AICD insertion

Computer experience:
  • Electronic Medical Record (EMR)
  • Epic software
  • Meditech

Interpersonal:
  • Calm under pressure
  • Patient listener
  • Empathetic
  • Familiar with and comfortable using AIDET (Acknowledge, Introduce, Duration, Explanation, and Thank You) in patient interactions

How to Write the Nursing Education Section


The level of your education determines your status in the nursing profession, more so than in most industries, so be sure to list your highest level of attainment first. The employer only needs to know the school/location/degree obtained.

If you're an LPN who's currently enrolled in a bridge program to become an RN or a BSN, be sure to list it as in progress, and if you have a firm graduation date, you can add that too.

A Certifications/Licensure sub-heading in the education section is critical to nurses who want to show their ongoing educational qualifications. Because of the many areas of specialization, the number of possible certifications is too long to list here, but an example would be ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) certification. Other areas of certification include ambulatory care, gerontology and pediatrics. While certification is voluntary, it could make the difference in a competitive market. Obtaining a nursing license, however, is a must and should be shown as current on your resume.

Another sub-heading, if applicable, would be Professional Associations. It's a pretty safe bet that, depending on your area of specialization, there's a professional nursing association that can offer career information and continuing education credit not to mention that it looks good on your resume.
TIP: Need a cover letter? Click here to view our Nursing cover letters.

Should I Include References in my Nursing Resume


As you look over the nursing resume samples you've found, you won't see references as part of a resume. It's pretty much a given that there is no good reason to include references in your resume, but there are some good reasons not to.
  • They take up valuable resume space that can be put to better use providing relevant information about your qualifications.
  • If you provide references in your resume, you won't know when the employer makes reference check calls.
  • As a result, you won't be able to give your references a heads-up to be expecting a call, and you won't have the opportunity to ask them to let you know how it went and what type of questions were asked.

A simple statement that references are available upon request is enough. Keep in mind that even your references reflect back on you, so try to get supervisors, doctors, or hospital administrators to agree to be references.

Nursing Resume Fails: Mistakes to Avoid


  • If you're leaving your current position because of poor management or understaffing, keep it to yourself. Some of your information might be proprietary, and if a potential employer sees a disregard for confidentiality, you won't get the interview.
  • The importance of proofreading can't be over emphasized. Even when you think you're finished, have a friend read it.
  • Don't overlook the importance of using keywords in your resume. By mirroring the language in the job description, you'll let the potential employer see you as a member of their team. Keywords are also the key to getting past an automated applicant tracking system.
  • While there are medical terms that are common to the profession, different institutions often have their own language when referring to certain aspects of their operation. Going to a potential employer's website will often give you an idea of how they refer to themselves and their offerings.

Job Prospects in the Nursing Industry

For the period 2012 to 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the average growth of all occupations to be 11 percent. All three of the nursing sectors listed below are projected to see growth at a higher percentage than average.

Nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners are expected to be employed at a growth rate of 31 percent for the same time period. This growth will occur because more people will have access to health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act, the increased emphasis on preventative care, and the aging baby-boomers who will present with increased chronic and acute conditions. Job opportunities will occur as a result of attrition and will be in demand in medically undeserved areas like urban and rural area.

Employment of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses is projected to grow 25 percent for many of the same reasons. LPNs and LVNs will be in demand in home health care settings and residential care facilities.

Registered nurses are projected to be employed at a growth rate of 19 percent because of many of the same reason. In addition, with hospitals discharging patients as soon as possible, many are admitted to long-term care facilities and outpatient care that will require a larger nursing staff. Nurses with a bachelor's degree will have better job prospects.


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