How to use non-healthcare experience in your nurse CV when applying for a nursing course
Find out how to use experience from any career or education in your student nurse CV to demonstrate the skills that are relevant for a nursing course.
14th October 2010
Whether you are changing your career and applying for a nursing course or you’re writing your CV for the first time, you need to make the most of the experience you have from everything you’ve done previously, whether that’s school, college or employment. It’s likely you have gained some of the essential skills you will need in your nursing career already and by simply drawing attention to these, you can fill your CV with evidence of your capabilities, and potential as a future nurse.
What kind of skills do I have that would be useful in nursing?
There are many different skills that nurses need, some of which you may not be aware you already possess. Simply by analysing your previous experience and thinking of examples where you have acquired new skills, you can enhance your student nurse CV with relevant details about your skill base.
Communication: this is an essential skill for every nurse working in any area of nursing. It’s a skill that everyone has, but the key is to use it effectively. Developing effective communications skills takes time and practice, and usually goes hand in hand with tact and intuition. A good way to demonstrate your communication skills is to think of a situation in which you were key to the solution and give an example of how your effective communication skills were vital in the resolution of the problem.
Organisation: every nurse needs to be organised and able to multi-task. You need to have a system of prioritising your work to make sure every need is met, care plans are updated and all paperwork is correctly filed. You will probably find each nursing department is slighting different in it’s organisation systems, but the responsibility lies with you as a staff nurse to be an organised individual. It’s the effective coordination of many different departments that leads to a positive outcome for the patient, so inter-professional working is absolutely key.
Empathy: be careful not to confuse this with sympathy. It means you are able to understand what a patient might be going through in order to better fulfill their needs. When combined with advocacy, this is a key skill for every nurse to have. Advocacy is mentioned directly in the NMC code of conduct in conjunction with helping anyone in your care to “access the relevant health and social care, information and support.” You can demonstrate empathy by giving details of a situation when you put yourself in someone else’s position in order to better understand their perspective.
Team Worker: team work is an essential part of every day life as a nurse. You must be able to work as part of a multi-disciplinary team of doctors, consultants, allied healthcare professionals and support workers, all of whom are vital to the well-being of the patient. Effective team work also requires that you respect the role of every team member and appreciate that a well structured team is much more efficient than the individuals working alone. You can demonstrate good team work skills in your CV by giving details of a situation where you understood your role in the team, worked to your full potential to support other team members in their roles and together reached a positive outcome.
How can I show these skills in my nursing CV?
It’s very simple, just think of an example in your previous experience where the skills detailed in the section above have assisted you to resolve a situation. You can use any example you like, but be sure to relate how your knowledge and application of that skill were essential at that moment.
It would also be relevant to describe how your skills could be transferred to a nursing environment. You could research a scenario where your team work skills would benefit you as a ward staff nurse, or where your communication skills as a community nurse could help to put into a place a care plan involving several different departments. If you’re struggling to find examples of when you may have gained any skills useful in a nursing job, try to focus on what you have done rather than what you haven’t. Any skills that help you interact with people are going to be useful when you become a nurse, as are any care skills you’ve gained by caring for family members.
Once you’ve decided which examples you’re going to use, write a draft of how you’re going to reference the experiences you’ve had and relate them to the skills you’ve gained. This will probably take a few drafts because you must make sure you write in an objective manner, but that it’s as a concise as possible while still giving enough detail to make your point. Be careful you don’t go the opposite way and write too much in your CV because you may end up running out of things to say when you write your personal statement.
What else should I include in my nurse CV?
You should definitely write your contact details including email address and phone number at the top of the CV. Then you should detail your most recent employment or education (whichever is appropriate) and give a short description of your responsibilities and / or achievements.
You should detail all other qualifications, employment and work history with dates, and employer or education institution names. This helps the admissions officer understand your history, and in conjunction with your personal statements gives a clear insight into you as a person.
If you need help with your personal statement, check out our article on how write a personal statement for a nursing course application.
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