Optimizing Your Registered Nurse Resume

Over the next 10 to 15 years, more than one-third of the current U.S. nursing population is expected to retire, leaving a gap of more than 300,000 nursing jobs across the country and not enough new nurses to fill the shortages. Nursing schools are working hard to prepare nurses and set them on the right path for success. It is important that both new and established nurses are prepared to put their best professional image forward for career advancement opportunities.

A key component of your professional image is a strong resume. For registered nurses seeking opportunities to advance their career or continue their education, it is especially important that their resumes emphasize their nursing experience and previous education. If you are a registered nurse exploring a career in Advanced Practice Nursing, it is likely that you already possess much of the experience and many of the skills sought after by graduate schools and Master of Science in Nursing (MSN or MS) programs. What is important is optimizing your registered nurse resume to reflect those skills and experiences. Here are several tips that will help you build a strong professional image.

Think of your resume as your individualized marketing tool.

There is no need to follow a rigid format or restrict your resume to just one page anymore if it does not suit your own unique skills. While it is important to be concise and succinct, circumstances may justify that your resume runs over onto a second page — or even a third.

Present your qualifications first.

Highlight your strengths, and incorporate strong action verbs when describing them. Instead of saying “knowledge of chemotherapy mixing and administration,” say “active management of cancer patients, including mixing and administering chemotherapy drugs according to hospital policies and safety standards.” This statement still shows that you know how to mix and administer chemotherapy drugs, but says so in a more professional and active voice.

Detail your nursing experience.

Programs and employers alike want to see a clear picture of your background. Make sure to clearly state where you have been working (rehabilitation, urgent care center, administration, etc.). New nurses should not worry if there is not much to say here; use this time to discuss any volunteer or unpaid work and clinical experiences.
Show your top-performer achievements.

Highlight any committees, community events, or policy changes of which you have been a part. Demonstrate clear examples of how you have gone above and beyond to improve circumstances in your previous or current role.

Polish and proofread.

While it may seem basic, re-read your resume and make sure it is clear. Check for spelling, grammatical, and formatting errors. Even a basic error will skew your professional edge with an employer and show that your attention to detail may not be as keen as you indicate. You may also want to enlist the help of a career counselor for a second opinion when you are finished.


Registered nurse and advanced practice nursing careers are on the rise. Setting your sights on a better job or advanced degree can be done if you study a good registered nurse resume sample, then tailor yours to reflect personal achievements and skill.


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