Resumes for Nurses

Much like medical doctors, nursing occupations are a complex structure of specialty professions.  When writing a resume, a nurse's specialized training, knowledge, and experience require special consideration.

In this article, we're going to run through the basics of putting a resume together.  This includes a brief review of the three types of resumes in use today and how a nurse would go about choosing the style that best matches their abilities and experience.  Finally, we'll close out with a link to an example that illustrates the points made in this discussion.

Resume Styles for Nurses

As is the case with all resumes, an individual in the nursing profession first has to determine which particular style or format will best highlight their skills, knowledge, and work history.  Generally, there are three formats in use today:

  • Functional:  a good choice for nurses or nursing students that don't have a lot of work experience to include in their write up.  The functional resume emphasizes what an individual knows, and not where they've worked.  Skills and knowledge are the key features of this style.
  • Chronological:  a good choice for individuals that have been working as a nurse for several years, or have progressed through the medical profession in a logical fashion.  The primary feature of the chronological resume is the work experience gained over time.
  • Combination:  considered the most marketable of the styles in use today.  The combination resume contains the features of the above two formats.  It is the best choice for nurses with a great deal of experience and a wide array of skills.

Clinical and Related Experience

A nursing career offers its professionals a diverse set of experiences, some of which are so different they are worth explicitly mentioning on a resume.  For example, someone might have worked in a psychiatric or in a maternity ward.  Although the care given patients might follow the same guiding principles, the experiences of the nurse are going to be very different in these two settings.

For this reason, a nurse's resume should include four key sections:

  • Education and Licensing:  includes degrees earned while in school in addition to Board certifications
  • Clinical Experience:  can include experience gained while working in a hospital, nursing home, laboratory, or doctor's office.
  • Achievements:  includes any nominations or awards won in addition to special accomplishments.
  • Experience:  a reverse chronological listing of prior job titles and places of employment.

Sample Resume

The example developed for nurses is a combination resume, which is an all-encompassing style.  It's been modified to accommodate clinical experience as mentioned in the above paragraphs.  Individuals that are new to the nursing profession, or are considering switching professions, can use one of the other formats.

The following is a link to a downloadable Word document in the combination format:  Nurse Resume.

For individuals looking to learn more about this topic, this website also contains a number of resume writing resources on subjects such as how to write a resume as well as additional resume writing samples.


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