10 Nursing Skills For Your Resume (+ How to Show Them)

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Nursing is an in-demand profession within the health care sector. Here are some skills you can add to your resume to land your next job as a nurse.

[Featured Image]: A woman with brown hair and wearing a blue uniform. She is smiling and folding her hands. She has a stethoscope around her neck.

Nursing is one of those professions that is often considered a calling [1]. Nurses provide patient care by taking vital signs and administering medication, and during the ongoing pandemic, these roles have been increasing in demand and importance. But according to the American Nurses Association, this shortage inches toward a national crisis [2, 3]. 

Overall, jobs in health care are expected to increase 16 percent from 2020 to 2030, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics [4]. For nurses, the projected growth rate is 9 percent [5]. As a result, there are plenty of nursing opportunities, including specializations, to choose from. 

Here are some skills you can add to your resume to land your next nursing job. You’ll also learn where to place them to elevate your resume.

10 nursing skills to put on your resume

Within the field of nursing, both technical and workplace (sometimes called “soft”) skills are needed. To move forward in your nursing career, you’ll want to demonstrate to employers that you have the skills necessary to be a successful nurse.

Technical skills

As a registered nurse (RN), you’ll provide care for patients in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, doctor’s offices, schools, home health care, and more, to support physicians and other medical professionals. It is important to master these technical skills, and integrate them into your resume when you customize it for a specific job.

1. Monitoring vital signs: All RNs must be able to check and monitor blood pressure, temperature, pulse rate, and respiration rate. You should also know the normal ranges for each type of patient. 

To highlight technical skills, a good rule of thumb is to quantify or provide specific and measurable achievements. For example, you might describe your duties by stating, “Prepared, monitored, and maintained 10 dialysis machines” or “Performed teammate and patient scheduling while managing the training of four clinical teammates and two nursing assistants.”

2. Basic (and urgent) care: Nurses are adept at dressing wounds, drawing blood, inserting catheters, and more. If you are skilled at doing this in specific situations or environments, such as urgent care, you should mention this on your resume. The same goes for the number of patients you treated per shift.

3. Patient safety and well-being: As an RN, you need to know how to maintain a patient’s safety. This can include transporting a patient from their bed to the bathroom, or providing an alternative for using the bathroom. You’ll be responsible for keeping rooms and supplies sanitary to minimize the risk for infection.

4. Comfortable with technology: Nurses need to know how to use technology, as you’re always accessing patient records on a computer and monitoring vital signs.If you took the initiative to improve technology or processes on your team, mention this in your resume.

5. Administering medication: You’ll need to know how to count and identify medications, including understanding what symptoms and diseases they treat. 

Highlighting specialized skills

Some nurses are specialized in fields such as oncology, geriatrics, newborn intensive care unit (NICU), emergency room (ER), and more.

If you are aiming for a particular specialization within nursing—especially if you have received the accreditation—then you should definitely tailor your skills and experiences on your resume to the job you’re applying for.

Further, if you are certified as a nurse practitioner, be sure to note your knowledge of preventative care strategies, as well as your understanding of chronic disease management.

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Workplace skills

In addition to technical skills, every nurse needs to work well with diverse people and environments. Not only are they in charge of caring for patients’ lives and well-being, they often need to lead or at least collaborate on teams within a hospital or clinic. As a nurse, these skills are just as necessary on your resume as technical skills.

6. Communication: Nurses must be able to communicate effectively and accurately about patients to doctors and staff. They are also expected to discuss sensitive issues and translate medical jargon for patients and their families. Sometimes a patient may be upset, so they need to understand body language and be able to empathize. 

On your resume, you can detail the types of people you have experience communicating with, from doctors to patients to hospital support staff.

7. Flexibility: Everybody gets sick at some point. Dealing with diverse individuals with multiple changing needs and conditions requires nurses to be ready for anything. 

You can demonstrate this skill on your resume by mentioning something like “Managed frontline operations for an outpatient clinic,” which requires plenty of flexibility.

8. Leadership: Nurses are responsible for managing nursing assistants and leading teams of nurses. Teamwork, in addition to being able to delegate tasks, is critical.

On your resume, you might describe situations where you displayed strong leadership skills, specifying the number of people you led, and what was achieved as a result of your leadership. A good example of this is: “Supervised a team of seven registered nurses and two nursing aides in the ER” listed under work experiences.

9. Critical thinking: Nurses make logical, evidence-based decisions for their patients and as leaders of their teams. They must be resourceful when solving problems in the workplace. 

In your work experience, you can outline in one sentence a situation in which your ability to think critically helped you create a solution immediately, and how it influenced the outcome.

10. Time management: You’ll want to demonstrate your ability to work under pressure while managing simultaneous (sometimes conflicting) priorities and schedules. RNs who work in the ER or ICU need to keep calm in stressful situations, but all nurses will inevitably find themselves in situations where patients’ lives are threatened by an injury or illness. 

In your resume, you can mention that you managed training schedules for many nurses, or have experience working on a team of six in the ER.

Learn the six principles of nursing

Earn a specialization in Integrative Nursing from the University of Minnesota, in which you will practice with a patient-centered, relationship-based approach that utilizes a variety of integrative healing modalities. 

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How to list skills on your resume

There are three places in your resume where you can list your skills: under work experiences, in the skills section, or in an optional summary

Work experience

The best place to put your nursing skills on your resume is in the descriptions of your work experiences. This is where you have room to explain your key achievements and day-to-day tasks that are specific to you and your nursing career.

Here, technical and workplace skills can be combined within the same description to demonstrate that you are well-rounded.

Example: 

Registered Nurse at American Red Cross / Detroit, Michigan

December 2015 - February 2020

  • Focused on customer service, made connections with over 400 regular blood donors

  • Led a team of four, supervising blood drives and drawing blood at multiple locations

  • Conducted regular assessments to ensure the blood collected met regulatory requirements for safe transfusions

  • Became an ambassador for the American Red Cross, attended and presented at five health-related conferences over two years

Skills section

Another good place to put your skills is, well, in the skills section of your resume. These sections are optional and additive, but they tend to feature key skills in a straightforward and clear manner. There is little doubt that you are a leader if you include leadership in the skills section of your nursing resume.

Example:

Skills

  • Leadership

  • Clinical care and judgment

  • Clinical documentation

  • Dialysis and vital sign monitoring

  • NICU and ER care

Summary

The third place you can add skills to your resume is in a summary. Like the skills section, this is also optional but can serve to introduce yourself succinctly, especially if you have specific skills or specializations you really want the recruiter to know about. 

Example: Passionate and energetic registered nurse with over six years of experience. Specialized in dialysis, NICU, ICU, and ER, including administration of IVs, tracheostomy care, and monitoring neurological activity. Served as American Red Cross ambassador for two years.

Important things to remember

  • Tailor your resume: Whenever you apply for any job, it is important to tailor your resume to the job description. You want to speak the language of the recruiters, using similar jargon and tone to convey that you are a great fit for the team in every way. When they read your resume, they should know that you have the right experience for the specific job role you applied for. 

  • Use specific keywords: These days, approximately 75 percent of employers use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to filter resumes during the hiring process [6]. To avoid getting eliminated by a machine before you even get in front of the recruiter’s eyes, you’ll want to include as many keywords from the original job posting in your resume, without being overly excessive. Your resume should still let your achievements shine and not be filled with sentences stuffed with keywords.

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Article sources

1. New York Times. “Nurses Have Finally Learned What They’re Worth, ​​https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/15/magazine/traveling-nurses.html.” Accessed May 4, 2022.

2. American Nurses Association. “Nurses in the Workforce, https://www.nursingworld.org/practice-policy/workforce/.” Accessed May 4, 2022.

3. American Nurses Association. “ANA Urges US Department of Health and Human Services to Declare Nurse Staffing Shortage a National Crisis, https://www.nursingworld.org/news/news-releases/2021/ana-urges-us-department-of-health-and-human-services-to-declare-nurse-staffing-shortage-a-national-crisis/.” Accessed May 4, 2022.

4. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Healthcare Occupations, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home.htm.” Accessed May 4, 2022.

5. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Registered Nurses, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm.” Accessed May 4, 2022.

6. Harvard Business School. “Hidden Workers: Untapped Talent, https://www.hbs.edu/managing-the-future-of-work/Documents/research/hiddenworkers09032021.pdf.” Accessed May 4, 2022.

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