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Should an experienced RN include nursing school clinical experiences on a resume? Can you provide other tips to help update my resume?

Friday February 14, 2014
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Queston:

Dear Donna,

I have been a nurse on the same unit more than five years, ever since graduation. I am looking for a new job in a new city and need help to update my resume. Should I include all of my clinical experiences, which I had from nursing school, on my new resume even though those experiences are more than five years old? Is there certain wording I can use to let potential employers know I am one of the senior and well-respected RNs on the floor where I currently work?

Looking for a New Job

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Looking for a New Job,

Your nursing school experience should no longer be on your resume. Concentrate on the experience gained in your current position. To convey your seniority, one of the bullet points under your current place employment could read something like: Senior and well-respected team member.

You could make a similar statement in your cover letter if you have the opportunity to submit one, or in your summary statement, which is an alternative to an objective on your resume. A summary statement is two or three powerful, punchy sentences at the beginning of your resume that provide an overview of your experience while highlighting your strongest attributes.

Your resume should show diversity of experience, not just clinical skills. It should include any business, administrative or managerial experience you have had, such as working on budgets and schedules, as well as any supervision or charge responsibilities. Mention special projects you worked on such as cost cutting or downsizing. List quality-management activities you were involved in as well as any interdisciplinary committees in which you participated. Mention any teaching or training you have done including acting as a preceptor to new hires, working with students and giving in-service presentations.

Your resume should highlight accomplishments and more unusual experiences. It should not read like a job description. Therefore, it is not necessary to list all the routine duties that, say, a staff nurse performs, such as delivering patient care and administering medication – as these types of duties are understood to be part of the job. Instead, focus on experiences such as those above, or at least focus on experiences that were more important, interesting or out of the ordinary.

There are many elements that go into making a resume current and effective including content, format and appearance. For additional tips and advice read my book, “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses” (www.nurse.com/ce/7250) where you’ll find resume, cover letter and summary samples plus a whole lot more.


“Dear Donna,” Nurse.com’s career management expert, tackles readers’ dilemmas and offers expert advice.SHIRTTAIL: Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nurse.com’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/Asktheexperts/Deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://www. Nurse.com/Events.