12 Nursing Student Skills for Resume Writing: How to Make your First Nursing Resume Stand Out

Summary: When creating your nursing resume, it’s important to highlight nursing student skills to make your resume shine. Add hard skills like patient assessment, CPR, medication/IV management, patient safety, and EMR documentation. Add soft skills to your nursing student resume, including teamwork, communication, compassion, problem solving, integrity, and commitment to learning.

Nurse sitting at desk holding resume

The transition from nursing school to your first nursing job can be a challenge, especially knowing what to put in your all-important resume. It’s vital to make a good first impression, but what’s the best way to do that with your nursing resume?

When you send in your nursing student resume, the key is to highlight the right skills that employers are looking for in their new nurses. When we consider the top nursing student skills for resume writing, there are two types of skills you should include: hard and soft skills.

At Northeastern University, we are committed to setting our Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) students up to excel in their nursing careers. After earning your BSN, you’ll have core knowledge and skills to make an outstanding first impression when you head into the workforce after graduation.

Why a Nursing Resume Should Include Hard and Soft Skills

Hard skills are the discrete, measurable skills you possess such as the ability to ride a bike or the ability to read. With nursing, hard skills come into play for much of your nursing school education. You have learned all about the patient care skills like assessing patients, giving medications, treating injuries, and so on. Including your hard skills in patient care shows employers that you have mastered your core nursing skills, which makes your resume impressive.

On the other hand, soft skills are a representation of your internal, immeasurable, qualitative skills. These include your patient demeanor, your communication skills, your ability to be calm under pressure, and your compassion. Soft skills are equally important for being a well-rounded nurse. You should highlight your best soft skills on your nursing resume so healthcare employers can see how you’d make a patient-centered, caring nurse.

6 Hard Nursing Student Skills for Your Resume

When you’re applying for a nursing job, what types of hard nursing student skills for resume writing matter? Your prospective employer wants to know you have gleaned all the necessary patient care skills taught in online coursework, simulation labs, and clinical rotations during nursing school. They want to know they can trust you to independently care for patients.

Secrets to being a well-rounded nurse - nurse in scrubs standing outside

Want to know why clinical rotations are so important in nursing school? They prepare you with the skills to take on your first nursing job with confidence. Read more here on why clinical experience is important.

In your skills section of your resume or within the descriptions of your experiences, make sure to address these key skills you have learned in accelerated nursing school at Northeastern. Six top hard skills a nurse should have include:

1. Patient Assessment

Prospective employers want to know whether you’ve mastered evaluating and assessing a patient’s condition and symptoms. Can you accurately take a history, check vitals, assess the severity of a patient’s illness, and prioritize the most imminent concerns?

2. CPR and BLS Skills

Nurses are often the first person in the room if a patient codes or has a dangerous heart rhythm. Healthcare organizations want to know that you can maintain a level head and alert the response team, check pulse and breathing, and begin CPR appropriately.

3. Medication Management

Medications are one of the key responsibilities of nurses, so you should note your experience with administering and charting medications. Let prospective employers know you have mastered this important skill.

4. IV-Line Placement and Infusions

IVs are another one of the bread-and-butter skills of qualified nurses, so reassure employers that you are comfortable placing IV catheters and starting and managing infusions.

5. Patient Safety and Infection Control

Patient safety is a big deal. Hospitals do not want patients breaking an arm or getting a biohazard exposure during a hospital stay. Make note on your resume that you understand fall risk protocols and proper safety measures. Similarly, infection control measures are key for keeping patients and healthcare workers safe, so write down your comfort with the various types of infection prevention and control measures.

6. Charting on the Electronic Medical Record (EMR)

As a nurse, you will need to document all the care you provide your patients. You will also need to use the EMR to reference patient information and care plans. In accelerated nursing school at Northeastern, you learn to use various EMR systems, so note on your resume your experience level with EMRs and which EMRs you have used.

6 Soft Skills to Include on Your Nursing Student Resume

It may seem like hard skills are the most important for keeping your patients safe, but possessing soft skills is also vital for comforting and caring for them. Furthermore, these soft skills ensure you work well within a hospital team.

Make sure to highlight your soft skills on your resume to give healthcare employers an idea of what kind of nurse you are, how you treat your patients and coworkers, and what values guide your actions.

1. Communication

As a nurse, you will need to communicate all day, every day. Whether it’s with patients, families, doctors, nurses, nursing aids, or managers, effective communication is key. On your resume, mention your verbal communication skills, and especially note your patient interaction skills.

Northeastern ABSN student miranda

I love patient interaction. Working with patients, and seeing new people every day, and meeting them, and hearing their stories, I think is very rewarding.

-Miranda Melling, Northeastern graduate

2. Teamwork

In the healthcare environment, you will continually work in teams to accomplish patient goals. Hospitals don’t want nurses who have a hero mindset. Rather, they seek those who understand the role of each team member, for together the team will improve patient outcomes. Healthcare employers want to know you are a contributing team member who fulfills your nursing role while also collaborating with those around you.

3. Compassion

Nursing is the epitome of a compassionate career. Because nurses spend the most time with their patients, healthcare employers want to make sure they hire nurses who care, listen, and empathize with patients. On your nursing resume, tell employers that you have a heart for patients. Show that you connect with them and care for them like you would a close friend.

4. Problem Solving Skills

Nurses deal with challenging situations regularly, and it is beneficial if they can think on their feet and think through problems rationally and effectively. In nursing school, did some of your clinical rotations help you refine these skills? When you apply for nursing jobs, comment on your ability to think laterally and work through problems and challenging scenarios successfully.

5. Integrity

Nurses have patients’ lives in their hands, so healthcare organizations need to know they can trust you to be honest. Integrity means documenting accurately in the EMR, admitting mistakes right away, and using hospital resources appropriately. In your resume, let employers know about your integrity and trustworthiness.

6. Pursuit of Learning

Healthcare is always changing and developing as research and information emerges. You are a new nurse who is jumping into a new career, and it is vital that you are a sponge. Employers want to know that you will take the advice of the veteran nurses and ask questions when you have any doubts about what to do. Make sure you mention your commitment to learning and becoming the best nurse you can possibly be.

Tips for Writing Your Nursing Student Resume

When you start writing your nursing student resume, there are some common pitfalls and best practices to implement for the best results. The small details matter, and once you create a polished resume, the process is much easier for any future jobs you need to add on later.

Do I Have What it Takes to Be a Nurse? 4 Things You Need.

When considering how you level up compared to the nursing standard, consider some of the key factors that make someone a great nurse. Here are four things healthcare employers want in a qualified nurse.

In your resume, put your best food forward, and show your prospective employer how your nursing student skills and preparation set you up to excel as a professional nurse. Here are some key dos and don’ts for your nursing resume:

Do:

  • Break your resume into sections: Summary, Education, Skills, Experiences, Volunteer Work, Certifications/Awards
  • Include your contact information at the top
  • Write a summary paragraph of your interests and what you’re looking for in a job
  • Add both your first bachelor’s degree and your BSN degree
  • Add the units/facilities where you completed your clinical rotations
  • Talk about patient care experience (i.e. CNA, LPN, surgery tech)
  • Show your leadership roles
  • Include community involvement and volunteer experiences
  • Use a resume template or generator so it has a professional aesthetic
  • Include a cover letter when applying for jobs
  • Choose engaging verbs: managed, initiated, launched, led, promoted, handled, etc.
  • Use bulleted lists instead of paragraphs

Don’t:

  • Make your resume longer than the front of one 8.5×11 page
  • Minimize your experiences
  • Include any experiences before college
  • Have an unformatted resume
  • Write in long-form paragraphs
  • Give too much information about each experience. Keep each one pertinent and brief.
  • Say “I”. Resumes are written in a modified third person, and avoid pronouns if possible.
    • Yes: Started and managed IVs independently
    • No: I started and managed IVs independently
  • Choose stale verbs: did, was, had, went, assisted, etc.
  • Forget to edit for spelling and grammar

Putting it all Together

All this information may seem overwhelming, but taking the time now to synthesize a professional resume will pay you off by helping you get a great job. Just remember to highlight your strengths and your top nursing student skills for resume success! When prospective employers see that you are a well-rounded, educated, compassionate, and level-headed nurse, they will jump at the chance to hire you.

Reach Out to Learn About How to Earn Your BSN

If you are interested in starting your nursing career, an accelerated nursing program is a great way to begin. Students who have a prior non-nursing bachelor’s degree can enroll in the Northeastern ABSN program in Burlington or Charlotte and earn their BSN in as few as 16 months.

It’s hard work, but look at the reward. You get to have a BSN. You get to be a registered nurse. You get to go out and help people and work in an amazing field where there are infinite possibilities for what you can do with this career.

-Megan Bellerose, Northeastern ABSN graduate

At Northeastern University, our rigorous accelerated BSN program will prepare you to set foot in your first professional nursing job with confidence. Contact an admissions counselor to learn more.

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