Are you a struggling to sort through all the contradicting advice you’ve heard and read about writing your nursing resume? Writing your nursing resume can seem like one more headache in your nursing career. First you had to deal with getting into and graduating from nursing school, and now you are dealing with the daily challenges of working as a Registered Nurse (R.N.). Resume writing for nurses should not be another struggle. You have already made the admirable decision to work as a nurse and help people. Let me return the favor and help you write a nursing resume.
Are you trying to prepare a nurse resume and cover letter? More specifically, are you having trouble with your ER Nurse resume, Graduate Nurse resume, Registered Nurse resume, Staff Nurse Resume, or even your Nursing Student resume?
Then you’ve come to the right place. Read on!
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Create a Nurse Resume in Five Easy Steps: A Practical and Actionable Guide to Resume Writing for Nurses
I am going to show you how to write a nursing resume in five easy steps. This will cover whether to use a nurse resume objective statement, how to create nursing job description content, how to put volunteer experience on a nurse resume, and what nurse resume technical skills and keywords you need. And if you don’t have any experience, I’ll show you how to use what we’ve talked about to write a nurse resume with no work experience.
I’ll even show you nurse resume template content, nurse resume sample content, and even a sample resume for nurses without experience.
1. Write Your Nurse Resume
Objective Summary of Qualifications Statement
First we need to figure out what’s going on top of you nursing resume. You might hear or read that you should put an “Objective” describing the goal of the resume first. Don’t do this.
If somebody is reading your resume, they know what your objective is. It’s to get the job they are looking to fill! Why else would they be reading your resume? Beware anybody who recommends using an objective, it means they are hopelessly out of touch and that they don’t have to deal with the consequences of giving bad advice to Nurses seeking jobs.
So no, we aren’t going to use an objective statement. What we are going to do instead is use a “Summary of Qualifications.”
A summary of qualifications explains your abilities relative to the job you are seeking. Imagine a Venn diagram. One circle is all the skills the jobs you want are looking for in an applicant, and the other circle is all the skills you have. The summary of qualifications should cover everything in middle of those two circles.
Read the difference between an objective statement and a summary of qualifications statement.
Objective Statement: Bad
“To obtain an R.N. position, specifically skilled nursing facility supervision.”
Summary of Qualifications: Good
“A Registered Nurse (R.N.) with five years of skilled nursing facility supervision work experience developing and implementing care plans, delivering patient education, and coordinating patient treatment across multiple health care disciplines.”
The summary statement is better because it is able to explain both what field of nursing you are specifically seeking employment in and why you are qualified to work in that field. The objective statement only explains what kind of nursing job you are seeking. The summary should mirror the skills and language in the job posting while accurately describing your skills and experience. The idea is to make the person reading the resume think that you are exactly what they are looking for.
On a side note, do not include a resume objective or summary if you are currently a nursing student. This statement should only go on your resume if you have over one year of nursing work experience. Clinical nursing experience done during university does not count! And remember, it’s always better to have no objective and no summary then it is to have an objective.
2. Write Nursing Job Descriptions (or Just Copy This Nursing Job Description Content!)
Now that you have your resume summary, you need to add your degree, certifications, and job history. All of that stuff is pretty basic data entry. Where the process can get frustrating is coming up with the bullet points and content for the jobs you’ve had.
- How much should you add?
- How specific should you get?
- What is worth talking about and what isn’t?
Relax. I’ve got you covered.
Open your resume document now. Have you ever played mad libs? That’s basically what we are going to do right now, except the end result won’t be a funny story, it will be resume content that clearly and elegantly communicates your skills and experience to potential employers.
Paste the content below under each nursing job on your nursing resume. Then just insert the correct numbers and details in the blank spaces. Delete any bullet points that don’t apply to your experience. The base of a good nursing resume job description is all here. You only need to complete the details that will separate you from the nurses and personalize your resume.
Your most recent job should have the most content. If you end up repeating yourself across multiple jobs, delete the duplicate content from the older jobs and leave it in the newest ones.
Nursing Job Description Mad Libs Guide:
Underline = replace specific details with your own
Starter Sentence: Examples of sentences you can use as the first sentence of your nursing job description
- Delivered outcome-focused care to zero patients per shift in coordination with Physicians, Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Dieticians, and Social Services staff at a 000-bed short stay rehabilitation facility.
- Supervised zero LPNs and zero CNAs at a 000-bed facility with long-term care and short-term rehab units.
- Delivered comprehensive health screenings, health education, and wellness and flu shot events to 000 managed care patients per day.
- Provided direct patient care to adolescents on behalf of a home care placement agency with 0K patients.
- Provided outcome-focused care to 00 patients per day at a long-term Medicare and Dementia unit.
The Meat of The Content: Examples of sentences you can use throughout your entire nursing description
Based on the above Mad Libs Guide you can now understand what details to replace with your own in the below sample content.
- Administered IV, oral, SQ, IM, and intradermal medications and wound and skin tear treatments as prescribed by the Physician and Physician Assistant.
- Educated patients and families on disease processes, treatments, and medication.
- Assessed patient statuses, vital signs, and labs and test results while communicating any changes or adjustments to Physicians, Therapists, Social Workers, and patient families.
- Wrote, implemented, and revised the Plan of Care for each resident and performed necessary interventions to achieve patient goals.
- Performed three daily initial admission assessments and confirmed medication orders with the Physician.
- Initiated each new admission care plan and modified ongoing care plans as needed based on patient diagnosis and priorities.
- Provided bedside, toileting, and incontinence care while attending to patient needs.
- Administered prescribed medications, changed dressings, cleaned wounds, and monitored vital signs.
- Performed Peripheral IV and indwelling catheter insertion and changed wound vacs.
- Administered and maintained urinary catheters, feeding tubes, and wound vacs.
- Performed admission assessments, discharges, and room changes, and verified admissions orders with the Physician or Physician Assistant.
- Assessed and coordinated patient discharge planning needs with facility staff.
- Completed all required in-service training, staff meetings and continuing education programs to train nurses on IV Infusion Therapy and Management, Cardiac Management, Orthopedic Management, Wound Management, Respiratory Management, and Physical Assessment.
- Ensured compliance with established nursing standards of practice and state laws and regulations to deliver patient care in collaboration with health care teams.
- Administered I.V.s, oral, SQ, IM, and intradermal medications, performed wound care and skin tear treatments, and managed urinary catheters and feeding tubes.
- Oriented and advised admitted patients while conducting initial physical assessments, reporting abnormalities, and verifying medication plans and diagnoses with attending physicians.
- Developed, implemented, evaluated, and revised care plans for each resident, which included measureable and achievable goals based on individual situations and statuses.
- Trained four shift nurses on new techniques and procedures obtained through in-services, education programs, and staff meetings as the shift educator.
- Documented patient system reviews, transfer records, risk assessments, pain levels, and safety precautions.
- Conducted patient discharge planning by delivering education on proper medication usage and reminding patients of future appointments.
- Performed bedside treatments, including tracheostomy tube change and gastrostomy tube replacement, as well as conducting catheterization, antegrade colonic enema procedures, and pain control treatments.
- Performed head-to-toe assessments and performed interventions as appropriate, including administering medication for pain, suctioning, hydrating, and changing tubing.
- Informed providers of changes in patient condition, abnormal diagnostics, and laboratory results.
- Administered and interpreted blood tests to assess blood lipid panels and educated patients on results, including HDL, LDL, cholesterol, triglycerides, and BMI evaluations.
- Provided healthy living recommendations with instructions and strategies to decrease fat intake, increase exercise, and unhealthy habits such as smoking.
- Recorded client test screenings results to provide documentation for insurance company reporting.
3. Nursing Resume Volunteer Experience, Rotations, Etc.
After you complete your work experience section, you should add any nursing volunteer experience into your nursing resume. If you are a recent nursing school graduate, you might want to add your clinical rotations as well. The good news is that both volunteer and clinical rotation experience can be added to your nursing resume in the same way.
1) The timeline of the experience. (month and year – month and year)
2) The organization/facility the experience occurred in or through.
3) The type of volunteering/nursing you did.
4) The amount of hours you spent there.
Once you have this info, create a section called either “Volunteerism” or “Clinical Rotations” (or both.)
Then put the above info in the section.
Each volunteerism entry will look something like this:
- Hospice Volunteer – 185 Hours
- January 2012 – June 2013
- St. David’s Hospital
- Cityville, CA
Clinical rotation entries will look just about the same:
- Medical/Surgical I – 185 Hours
- January 2012 – June 2013
- St. David’s Hospital
- Cityville, CA
Put these sections below your work experience.
4. Nursing Technical Skills (Nursing Keywords for the Win)
Now the only thing left to do is create a section called “Technical Skills.” You are going to fill this nursing technical skills section with the equipment, methods, and skills you have used as a nurse. The idea here is to create a kind of word bank. This is useful for a few different reasons.
The first is that it allows anybody reading your resume to quickly see if you have familiarity with certain processes or specialties. For this reason, you will repeat important words and phrases from the bullet points in the technical skills section. This way all the important terms in your resume will be in one place for a reader to quickly see.
The second reason is more important. Like it or not, we live in a digital age where resumes sometimes don’t even get read by people until they’ve been pre-approved by resume scanning software. To get your resume chosen by that software, you need to include the terms and keywords that the software is looking for. The more of those terms you hit, the more likely your resume will end up in the hands of a real live human being.
So what terms to use? How should you organize these terms? Good questions, but you don’t need to ask them. A starter list of skills you need is just below. Copy and paste these into your resume. Then go through and delete anything that doesn’t apply to you.
By far the best method for identifying a list of skills is to search for nursing terms online. Do this by searching for a combination of the following terms on Google. Google words such as “glossary” and “list” combined by specifics like “nurse” and “nursing procedures”, or specific terms like “nursing instrumentation”, “Foley Catheter Insertion”, etc.
Searching for a combination of keywords will find you detailed lists and glossaries of nursing terms you can include. For example, one minute of Google found these procedures, nursing skills, and more.
- Healthcare Instrumentation: Bladder Scanner, Capillary Blood Glucose measure, Ocean Wet/Oasis Dry Chest Tube Suction, Hoyer Lift, Foley Catheters, Condom Catheters, Dynamap Portable Vital Sign Monitor, Sequential Compression Devices, Thrombo Embolic Deterrent T.E.D. hosiery, Micro-cool Electronic Cooling Pad, Polar Pack Electronic Cooling Pad, Oropharyngeal Suction and Canister Storage, Bedpans, Fraction Pans, Clean Catch specimen Containers, Pneumatic Tube Transport System, Patient Controlled Analgesia, Patient Controlled Epidural Analgesia, Keo Feed TPN, Capillary Blood Glucose measure, Centricity Electronic Medical Record Charting System
- Patient Care: Manual Blood Pressure, Digital Blood Pressure, Discharging and Transferring Patients, Assisting Patients with Bowel and Bladder Needs, Collecting Specimen Samples for Testing, Hand Hygiene, Sterile Gloving Technique, Sterile Dressing Changes, Removal of Central Lines, Starting and Discontinuing IV Catheters, Colostomy Care, Tube Feeding, Total Parenteral Nutrition, Tracheostomy Care, Inserting Naso-gastric Tubes, Wet to Dry Dressing Changes
- Electronic Healthcare Records: Centricity Electronic Medical Records, Epic Electronic Medical Records
- Nursing: Alteplase/Cathflo Injections, PICC Line Management, Foley Catheter Insertion, Sterile Field, CPR, Nursing Assessment, MDS 3.0, IV Certification, EMR, CPOE, Meaningful Use, Quality Measures, Infection Control, Mandated Reports for Infections, Mandated Reports for Patient Abuse/Neglect, Medication Error Reporting, Electronic Medication Administration Records, Bedside Verification, Multi-Patient Caseload, IV Insertion, Developmentally Appropriate Care, Keeping a Professional Demeanor during Crisis Situations, Patient Education, Medication Administration, Appropriate Delegation, Assistance with ADLs, Patient Advocacy, Interpersonal and Therapeutic Communication, Body Systems and Functions, Wound Care, SOAP Documentation, Medication Administration Checks and Routes, Care and Suction, Focused and Targeted Assessments, Comfort Measures, Pain Assessment and Management, Passive and Active Motion Exercises, Specimen Collection
- Medication Administration: Oral, Ear, Ophthalmic, and Injectable Medications, Subcutaneous, Intradermal, and Intramuscular Injections, Intravenous Therapy and Infusion, Start IVs
- Quality Improvement: Performance Measures, Adverse Reaction Reporting, Risk Assessment and Analysis, Root Cause Analysis, Peer Review
- Home Care Management: Admission Criteria, Documentation Requirements, Electronic Medical Record, Safety Practices, Discharge, Hospice, Care of Sick, Respite Care
- Medical: Oxygen Administration, Triage Patient Assessment, EKG Application, 12 Lead Interpretation, Emergency Dispatch, CPR, Endotracheal Intubation, Intravenous Catherization, Intravenous Blood Draw, Intraosseous Catheterization, Cricothyrotomy, Chest Decompression, Infant Delivery, CT, MRI Machines, iStat Machine, Hazardous Materials Training
5. How to write a resume for nurses without experience: Yes you can!
Now, some of you have read this far and are thinking “great, all of this still doesn’t help me because I have no nursing experience.” Well, actually, with a few little tweaks we can use all the info above to create a nursing student resume. Remember, as a nurse with no experience, all you need to do is fill up one page with relevant material. Even with no nursing work experience, that shouldn’t be a problem.
First of all, remember the clinical rotations and volunteerism section? Well, we are going to treat those like jobs. So instead of customizing the nursing job description content for a non-existent job, you are going to put that content underneath your rotation and volunteerism entries.
You might need to write some of your own bullet points to explain those experiences. But the same general idea of the content above will work. Just choose a few bullet points that show some relevant skills that you learned during your rotations or volunteerism. Now you have bullet points that show you actually have performed nursing tasks, even if you don’t have nursing experience.
Next, create a section called “Academic Projects.” What you are going to do here is create a section where you show your most important and relevant academic projects. You are going to use these projects to show knowledge and skills. For each project, create a header that says what the project was (ex. “Diabetes Risk Assessment”) and the time you worked on it (January 2012 – May 2012). Then write bullet points briefly describing the project and explaining how you used nursing knowledge and skills.
Combine all of this with a technical skills section and you should have plenty of information to fill up a page. Also, don’t hesitate to put non-nursing work experience, including the job you had waiting tables during nursing school. You don’t want to spend bullet points and space describing those jobs, but just showing you have actually worked before is good if you don’t have any actual nursing experience on your resume.
Now put Your Nursing Resume All Together
So there it is, everything you need to write a nursing resume, whether you’re an ER nurse, a nursing student, a Surgical Nurse…. You have a structure, content, and keywords that you can customize to fit your unique background. We all know that working as a nurse provides a storied and steady career path according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They say that nursing jobs should grow at a “faster than average” rate and expect many nurses to retire soon, resulting in a shortage.
Don’t wait for those nurses to retire and take action now! Start sending out your nursing resume, and get ready to see how quickly your new nurse resume lands you interviews with your ideal hospitals, facilities, and anywhere else you desire.
Soon enough, you will begin to relate to your fellow nursing colleagues below.
Do you still feel overwhelmed writing your nursing resume after reading the above tips? It is a lot of information to take in and sometimes better to the professionals, like Resume to Interviews, write your resume. Click here to find out how Resume to Interviews can help. Or call (484) 416-0009 to talk to me now.