After graduating from my NP program, I sat down to craft the perfect resume only to be met with the sinking feeling I had nothing to put on it. I became a nurse practitioner early in life through an accelerated program and had zero healthcare experience. Ice cream scooping expertise. Check. Research lab assistant know-how (i.e. caring for various lab animals and cooking up vats of drosophila food). Check. Working with actual human patients? I had nothing to offer.
Feeling discouraged and desperate for a job, I ditched my nearly blank resume draft and sought some pointers from my coolest former clinical advisor. Her advice was reassuring. You do have patient care experience she reminded me. You have completed hundreds of clinical hours over the course of your NP program, highlight them in your resume.
Following the rest of her advice I omitted the fact that I had spent a few summers making milkshakes and vigilantly protecting the large cow statue form theft that stood outside of the ice cream shop where I had once worked. I did include my experience feeding fruit flies and lab rats but gave it a prestigious and educational spin.
So how do you write your first nurse practitioner resume? What is the best way to highlight your accomplishments so they overshadow your lack of experience? Here are the main components new NP’s should include on their resumes:
As on any resume, your first nurse practitioner resume must include a header stating your name followed by your address, phone number and e-mail address. Don’t forget that you are now a certified nurse practitioner. Behind your name include the title, MSN, APRN or FNP-C (depending on your specialty). Whichever your title you prefer to let employers know you are an official NP, include it behind your moniker.
This is also straightforward and should be included on every resume no matter the position for which you are applying. Starting with where you received your nurse practitioner degree, then your nursing degree followed by your undergraduate education (if different than your nursing degree), list the colleges and universities you have attended in descending chronological order. Be sure to include your major and/or specialty as well as the date you completed each program. Stop after your college experience. Do not include where you went to high school. Even if you had the best time ever in 11th grade and were prom king or queen, high school is too far gone to include on your professional documents.
Nurse practitioners must be licensed in order to practice. List the fact that you are a licensed advanced practice nurse as well as a registered nurse and the state(s) in which you are licensed. Additionally, list your certification and certifying body. For example, “Family Nurse Practitioner: Certification Through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners”.
Highlighting your experience is the most important part of your resume. Begin with your most recent employment. If you have never been employed as a nurse practitioner, or if you have only one prior NP position, list your clinical placements to emphasize that you do have experience working with patients in the nurse practitioner role. For example, in the experience section of your resume create a sub heading titled “Specialty Practica in MSN Program”. Then, subsequently list the clinics where you completed your clinical hours, the name of your precepting physician and the number of hours you completed at each site. Listing your clinical placements allows you to present a resume with relevant experience to employers even if you have not formally worked as a nurse practitioner.
Following your NP work experience, list nursing jobs you have held as well and any other healthcare related positions. While these are not specifically NP positions, they have provided you valuable healthcare experience and will be seen as a valuable asset by employers.
Many nurse practitioners and NP students have sought out valuable volunteer opportunities and other experiences giving them additional healthcare knowledge. If you have any experience outside your previous employment that relates the the position for which you are applying, include it in your resume. For example, if you are a pediatric nurse practitioner and regularly volunteer with children, this would be valuable information to include in your resume.
Memberships in organizations like the American Association of Nurse Practitioners show that you are committed to the NP profession. They indicate an interest in being involved with the healthcare community and are looked on favorably by employers. Include any professional memberships in your resume. If you aren’t a member of a professional nurse practitioner organization, now is a good time to think about joining. Sign up for a membership online then include your membership status in your resume.