So, you want to be a nurse. Congratulations! Right now, you’re probably working towards finishing your degree (or you’ve just graduated) and you’re looking for a position in the medical field that will give you hands-on experience and boost your future job prospects. An exceptional nursing student resume could land you the Grey’s Anatomy job of your dreams — OK, probably with a little more stress and a lot less romance.
Even though the industry is in need of more skilled professionals, in some highly-concentrated areas, standing out as a nursing student can be difficult. When all the other candidates have gone through the same training, it can be hard to explain why you’re more qualified for the job. But never fear! Resume.io is here to help as a leading provider of job search resources. That includes more than 350 occupation-specific writing guides with corresponding resume examples.
This guide, backed by a nursing student resume example, will show you how to:
- Understand the hiring realities of the medical field and what they mean for you as a nursing student
- Tailor your resume to the each specific job posting
- Beat the automated applicant tracking systems in use at most large health institutions today
- Optimize each section of your nursing student resume for the best chance of success: header, summary, employment history, education and skills
- Make professional layout and design choices so your resume looks as good as it reads.
What does a nurse do?
As the world’s population ages and the healthcare industry expands to meet growing demands, (registered) nurses will become more valuable than ever. Your chosen profession can lead to a lifelong career of meaningful connections and rewarding work.
Your first work experiences as a nursing student
As a nursing student, it’s true that you could work your way through nursing school as a server or a tutor. While these are valid options, job experiences in the healthcare field will put you miles ahead when it comes time to look for your first RN position. At this point, the types of jobs you can apply for will most likely depend on how far along you are in your nursing coursework. If you’ve already completed your Certified Nursing Assistant training, you’ll be qualified for CNA jobs, not only in hospitals but also in nursing homes and outpatient care centers. If you don’t have your CNA license, there are still plenty of jobs available to you. You may choose to take a course in medical scribing or you may want to become a tech, helping in phlebotomy or with EKGs, for example.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, your future looks bright! The job market for nurses is expected to grow by 9% between 2020 and 2030, slightly faster than the occupational average. That’s roughly 194,500 openings for nurses each year.
If you have no nursing certifications at all, you may still be qualified to become a sitter in a hospital and provide companionship to sick patients. You could choose to be a caregiver or medical receptionist, or you may even apply for positions in hospital housekeeping.
All of these jobs, whether they provide clinical experience or not, get your foot in the door of a health system and give you the chance to see what goes on behind the scenes. Even if you’re not working directly with patients, your connections with supervisors may later lead to bigger opportunities.
Whatever path you choose to go down, the thing to remember is this: tailor your entry-level nurse resume for each individual position you apply to. That means leaving some work experiences off your medical scribe resume that you might need to include on your EKG tech one. Or changing the wording of your resume summary to convey you are focused on home health work. It might take more effort, but this attention to detail will stand out to a hiring manager. It can give you a leg up on other nursing students with more general resumes.
Beating the ATS
Applicant Tracking Systems ( ATS) are the harsh reality of today’s health worker hiring systems. These algorithms are often built into online job application portals and make life easier for hiring managers. They scan resumes for keywords and rank them against the others in the applicant pool. Only the best candidates are forwarded to the hiring manager's desk for review by human eyes. That’s right — after all that work, your resume may never even reach a real person.
But, there’s hope. And better yet, there are strategies to beat the ATS and make sure you get a shot at the position. You can accomplish this by:
- Understanding what hospitals are looking for in positions typically filled by nursing students.
- Tailoring your resume to the exact skills sets and personality traits needed for the job.
- Incorporating the most relevant keywords from the job description to give yourself the best chance at beating the robots and making it to the hiring manager’s desk.
How to write a nursing student resume
Getting started with any resume writing task becomes less daunting when you see the framework broken into sections as follows:
- Employment history section
- Education section
- Skills section
Together, they should take up no more than a single page, which requires economy of words — language that’s concise and precise with no repetition. Customizing your resume for each specific position, as discussed previously, requires you to be selective about the information you include or omit in each different version.
Choosing the best resume format for a nursing student
The most commonly used chronological resume format is preferred by recruiters. That means your work experience is listed under employer headings, in order from most recent to earliest positions.
But nursing student job applicants might want to consider a different resume format, particularly if their relevant employment history is limited. For instance, a functional resume allows you to emphasize special skills and knowledge that may be valued by the employer you hope to work for. These strengths can be listed in a section labeled “Experience.”
For even more versatility, a hybrid (combination) resume format can be customized to include both chronological and functional elements as applicable. Many student resumes feature the education section ahead of the employment history.
Gain the recruiter’s attention off the top with an eye-pleasing resume header. Displaying your name, occupation and contact information in a distinctive manner sets your resume apart from the rest and makes it easier for duly impressed hiring managers to get in touch.
Take this a conscientious step further by making your cover letter and resume match using consistent design elements. This reflects well on your professionalism and attention to detail.
Nursing student resume summary example: a warm presence
Of all the skills you can master as a nursing student, one of the most advantageous is probably one you already have: passion. In this field, there will be victorious days and challenging ones. But above all, you have to love what you do. We bring up passion in this section because the summary (also known as the profile or personal statement) is the best place to convey this emotion to your future employer.
If you truly have no experience in the medical field, then you may want to create a resume goal or objective, which briefly describes yourself and your intentions. But if you can scrape together even a bit of medical knowledge and training, then it’s best to create a summary.
This short paragraph conveys your top personality traits, a bit of your education and previous work experience and your skills relating to the specific job you’re applying for. Since your other resume sections will be more straightforward and focused on your skills and experiences, don’t be afraid to add a touch of personality to the summary.
Whether it’s compassion, perseverance, determination or stamina, these innate qualities are truly sought after by recruiters in the healthcare industry – so let your true colors shine.
Below is a nursing student resume example summary you can customize.
Dedicated and passionate nursing student with diverse competencies honed in the fast-paced maternity and pediatric care settings of a 200-bed community hospital. Consistently demonstrate a compassionate and friendly attitude as a patient-focused team member. Highly organized, with exceptional written and verbal communication skills. A strong leader who works well under pressure and exudes positivity. Committed to upholding the highest quality of patient care, consistent with the mission of your healthcare organization.
Employment history sample: your real-life credentials
As a nursing student, your biggest resume challenge might just be filling out the employment history section. At this point, your experience may be limited and may include work similar to many other nursing students at your level. Therefore, the difference may come down to how you present yourself. Using precise action verbs and listing your accomplishments in each position is a good way to start.
If your experience is limited, you can include your clinical rotations by listing the job or unit first, followed by the name and location of the hospital or medical center. List your clinical experience in the order that is most relevant to the position you’re applying to. You may choose to list skills under each clinical rotation, but you can save space and keep the resume flowing by creating a cumulative list of all the abilities you acquired during clinicals after you’ve listed the names and locations.
Should you include non-medical work experience on your resume? It’s a tough question, but generally speaking, it’s best to keep your resume focused on not only healthcare, but the specific role you’re applying to. But if you’re up against a blank page, you may choose to include non-medical positions, paying extra attention to how those roles taught you the nursing skills you will need in the job at hand. The ability to work in a fast-paced environment, for example, can be very valuable to a hiring manager.
For other work experiences, you’ll want to give attention to the tasks you performed, as well as the size and status of the institution. At the very minimum, you’ll need the type of facility and the unit you worked in. Facts and figures can go a long way in adding weight to your experience — anything you can say about the number of patients you worked with on a daily basis or the number of tests you ran will show an employer that you can really manage the high-stress life inside hospital walls.
This listing illustrates:
- Organized over 200 patient files as medical receptionist in busy private practice
- Took vital signs and performed essential skills like drawing blood and bandaging wounds as aide in pediatrics unit
- Offered support to older patients as hospital sitter making more than 20 visits a week
- Educated patients and families on best practices for home recovery upon release
- Assisted nurses with daily rounds, administering medication and cleaning and dressing patients.
Below is a nursing student employment history resume sample you can modify.
Intern at Greenfield Hospital, Greenfield
September 2017 - Present
- Regarded by supervisors, peers and patients as a diligent, respectful and personable nursing intern in the pediatrics department.
- Greet patients and help them feel at ease while recording their medical history.
- Commended for thoroughness and accuracy in maintaining and updating meticulous medical records..
- Valued team contributor who works well with nurses, doctors and other medical professionals.
- Attentive and responsive in following instructions and physician orders with promptness and efficiency..
Student Nurse at Greenfield Hospital, Greenfield
September 2015 - September 2017
- Developed a well-rounded base of essential skills as a student nurse in the 28-bed maternity care unit, assisting patients, medical professionals and midwives.
- Provided optimal continuity of care for patients in the antepartum, labor, delivery, post-partum and mother-baby care units.
- Gained a comprehensive range of experience assisting and supporting multidisciplinary team members.
- Documented medical histories, concerns and changes in patient's condition.
Nursing student resume education example: Knowledge is key
As a nursing student, your education is not only important, it is your biggest focus. Therefore, you should take the time to make sure this section accurately captures everything you’ve learned, including additional certifications or memberships. While it may not be recommended for other occupations, nursing students can place their education sections towards the top of their resumes, sandwiched between the summary and experience.
Although job prospects for nurses remain high, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that some regions of the U.S. face heavy competition for nursing jobs in the healthcare industry. Nurses with a bachelor of science in nursing may likely fare better than those without an advanced degree.
You should list your highest degree first, including your GPA and expected graduation date. Then continue with any other degrees you hold, followed by licenses, state designations, national certifications and awards or honors, in that order. These are the guidelines set forth by the American Nurses Credentialing Center to help standardize the way nurses report their education.
Below is the education section from a nursing student resume you can modify.
Master of Nursing, Boston College, Boston
August 2015 - Present
- 3.9 GPA
Bachelor of Biology, Villanova University, Villanova
August 2010 - May 2014
CV skills example: assessing your vitals
In some nursing circles, it's debatable whether a skills section is even necessary on a nursing student CV. If you’ve been advised against it, then make sure to wrap all the most pressing skills into your experience section and summary (a good idea anyway). But if not, a skills section can be valuable when it comes to showing an employer that you’ve got exactly the right qualities for the job at hand.
And what’s more, it’s one of the ATS’ favorite sections when it comes to scanning for keywords. So if you’ve got the space, why not use it to your advantage? You can break down the skills section into hard skills and soft skills, and ideally, your resume should contain a balance of both. Hard skills are your clinical competencies, medical terminology and anything else you learned in your coursework relating to treating patients and using medical equipment.
Inserting the exact same wording from the job description into your skills section is a great tool to fight against the ATS. While the profile summary still needs to be pleasing for human eyes, the skills section’s bullet point format means you can get in the most vital keywords without sacrificing appearance. Just make sure the traits you’re including are actually accurate descriptors of yourself!
Soft skills are your innate personality traits like compassion, patience, gentleness, discipline, stamina and motivation. Hiring managers don’t overlook these traits and you shouldn’t either. Without them you’d be likely to become the most disliked nurse on the floor.
Foreign language skills are some of the most needed abilities in the medical field. If you speak a second or third language, it’s great to highlight that prominently on your resume in the skills section. In the U.S., Spanish is the most sought-after second language, but it’s certainly not the only one in demand.
One way to handle the writing of the skills section is by creating a master list. This comes from brainstorming all your abilities, both hard and soft, picked up during all your work experiences. Once you have this list, you can cherry-pick the skills most relevant to the job at hand. When it comes time to tailor your resume to a new position, simply return to your master list and adjust your skill section as needed.
Check out a nursing student CV sample for the skills section below.
- Patient Care
- Excellent Communication Skills
- Team Building Skills
- Leadership Skills
- Clinical and Academic Experience
Resume layout and design: the right impression
While your resume's summary might be the first thing the hiring manager reads, its layout and design is truly the first thing they see. That’s why it’s so important to put just as much thought into the organization of your resume as the writing of the words on the page.
As a student nurse, you might be tempted to list all your professional experiences in great detail in order to have the best chance of impressing a hiring manager. However, a well-crafted and focused nursing resume will always be more effective than a lengthy, wordy one. One page is standard resume length for most career levels, and especially for students. Quality is key.
For roles in the medical field, your resume should visually convey professionalism and discipline. While a sense of style or a touch of personality might be OK, a resume template that could be described as “whimsical” or “fun” probably aren’t the way to go.
So how do you create a layout that captures this delicate balance? Resume.io’s field-tested resume templates take the guesswork out of pleasing employers, and are professionally designed to give you the best chance of landing the role you want. For the medical field, we recommend a template from the professional style category.
When it comes to submitting your resume, you’ll want to make sure that the formatting you create is the formatting the hiring manager sees. That means saving and uploading your resume as a PDF — the best resume format to be processed by human eyes, and the ATS too.
Key takeaways for a nursing student resume
- The demand for nurses and other medical industry professionals is growing rapidly so now is an excellent time to finish your resume and enter the field.
- Hiring managers are looking for a balance of hard and soft skills – and they’re especially interested in passion, compassion and the ability to work quickly and under pressure.
- List your education before your work experience section and make sure to include your credentials in the right order so hiring managers can get to the good stuff first.
- A clean and professional resume without typos or grammatical errors is essential to beat the ATS and impress a hiring manager. Our resume builder can help with this.
And if you need help polishing your experience on paper, try our field-tested templates and custom builder tool to land your first medical job in no time!