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Learn how to create a nursing curriculum vitae

Monday August 22, 2011
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Susan Shevlin, RN
When applying for a nursing position at an executive or collegiate level, applicants often are asked to submit a curriculum vitae. CVs provide an outline of a nurse's educational and professional life with more detailed information than a resume.

From advanced certifications to articles published to leadership accomplishments, CVs demonstrate what each candidate has achieved throughout his or her career. "What I look for in a CV is the personalized story, something that will distinguish the candidate from the rest of the group," said Joanne Reich, RN, MA, NE-A, CNO at Chilton Hospital in Pompton Plains, N.J. "It's also an opportunity to let their passion show through."

The applicant should send the CV with a cover letter, whether submitting electronically or by mail, expressing interest in the specific position, qualifications and where he or she learned about the opening.

"A nurse is better served with a CV if [he or she] has done a lot of publications or is involved in research," said Susan Shevlin, RN, MA, MEd, assistant vice president of talent acquisition at North Shore-LIJ Health System in Great Neck, N.Y.

Nurses also should develop a CV, rather than a resume, when applying for a fellowship or grant funding, said Susan M. O'Brien, RN, EdD, dean of the W. Cary Edwards School of Nursing at Thomas Edison State College in Trenton, N.J. "It's a way for the person to say, 'These are my accomplishments,'" O'Brien said.

Nurses applying for graduate study or faculty positions also should opt for a CV, said Salil D. Akhtar, RN, MA, EdM, a professor at Monroe College School of Nursing in the Bronx, N.Y. He suggests seeking professional assistance when developing a CV. Many colleges, including Monroe, offer those services to alumni.


Susan M. O'Brien, RN
Curriculum vitae creation

The person's name and contact information goes at the top of the CV. Following that, no set format exists, with hiring authorities expressing different preferences.

O'Brien recommends placing one's education next. "Mainly, I'm interested in your education, the schools you went to and the years you went there," O'Brien said. Experience follows, with information about where the applicant taught, for how long and the position held.

Focus on the core areas of education from an accredited school and the entire nursing work history, said Ellen M. Heasley, RN, MPA, BSN, director of nurse recruitment at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.

Reich also wants to see all of the candidate's nursing experience because it can "shed light on career decisions." But in some cases, Shevlin said a nurse could summarize past experience rather than repeating information.

Accomplishments and results in each position matter to Kiersten Kanaley, director of talent acquisition at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. That may include boosting patient and employee satisfaction scores, improving quality outcomes and examples of mentoring staff or reducing turnover and vacancy rates.

"In a nurse leader, we're looking for someone who can show their caring, compassion and competence," Kanaley said.

Atlantic Health System in Summit, N.J., seeks a CV that is specific to the position, with information in chronological order, said Filomena Mazzone, human resources manager/recruitment. She finds that unrelated employment, perhaps while attending school, adds information about the candidate, such as a good work ethic.

Awards, published articles in peer-reviewed journals and presentations should be included. Shevlin looks for activities that relate to the position for which the person has applied. She suggests the applicant tailor the CV to the position.

Lynn Rubenstein, RN-BC, MA, associate dean at the Phillips Beth Israel School of Nursing in Manhattan, checks for certifications and affiliations with professional nursing organizations and honor societies. "This tells me that the individual has kept up with the rapid changes in nursing and healthcare and believes in maintaining high standards," Rubenstein said.

How many items to include in each category varies depending on the job posting. Most hiring authorities do not want to wade through 25 pages of information, especially when some of it includes continuing education courses taken 10 years ago. Most recommend limiting the CV to a few pages. That may mean leaving out articles published years ago or those outside the field in which one is applying.

"In two to three pages, you can get a good sense of where they are in their career trajectory," O'Brien said. The applicant can include related experience, for instance, if the nurse has operated a business, reviewed grants or is fluent in a foreign language, O'Brien added.

Atlantic and NewYork-Presbyterian suggest including pertinent volunteer work. "At NewYork-Presbyterian, it is part of our values to serve the community, and we're always looking for someone to live our mission," Kanaley said.

Pet peeves

A goal statement that does not match the position raises a red flag for O'Brien. "Right off the bat, you say, this person didn't take the time to restructure the goal, so what kind of work are they going to do for me," she said.

A lack of dates on education or specifics about experiences may result in a follow-up email requesting more information or sending the CV to the circular file.

Kanaley recommends simply formatting a CV, since online submission systems may alter the appearance.

Typos show someone who's careless or rushed, Rubenstein said. "That is such a turnoff to me that I have to force myself to continue reading it," she added. "It translates into sloppy work with our students, and that wouldn't be tolerated."


Debra Anscombe Wood, RN, is a freelance writer. Send letters to editorNY@nurse.com or post a comment below.