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The Ultimate List of Nursing Skills For a Resume

nurse updating her resume on her laptop

Nurses are in high demand. By 2030, some 1.2 million new registered nurses (RNs) will be needed to address the pressing talent shortages. That said: not all nursing jobs are equally appealing. Many healthcare institutions operate on tight budgets and often can’t offer competitive pay for demanding work hours. 

But those with excellent employment conditions have a competitive recruitment process. You must impress hiring managers right from the jump. Your nursing resume is the best tool for that since it summarizes your nursing skills. 

But does your resume showcase your most marketable skills or merely list all competencies? If you are unsure, use our up-to-date list of must-include skills for a nursing resume (and bonus resume writing tips!). 

What To Put For Skills on a Nursing Resume?

There’s no predetermined number of skills to list a nursing resume must have. Depending on your specialty and experience levels, you should include 3-5 skill examples for the following categories — medical skills, people skills, and technical skills. You can include your most relevant competencies in a resume summary section and spread the other throughout your work history section.

Big List of Skills For Nursing Resume

As you know, the list of skills a nurse develops over time is absolutely massive. But a good resume runs only one page long. Hence, you have to cherry-pick your skills from different categories and organically mention them across your resume and your cover letter

Here are six groups of nursing skills that should be covered on your resume. 

Medical Skills

Nursing skills vary depending on the specialty you choose. Also, not every skill belongs on your resume (or it risks running too long).  Emphasize skills that are most useful in the position you are applying for.

Here are some swipeable examples:

  • Placing IVs
  • Administering medications
  • Patient behavioral assessments
  • Catheterization
  • Blood draws
  • Pain management
  • Care plan assessment
  • Fall risk assessment and prevention
  • Care of tubes and drains
  • Respiratory system assessment
  • Administering oxygen
  • Visual analysis of specimens

As you imagine, this list could be virtually endless. Keep this in mind when you write the skills section of your resume. For example, every experienced nurse knows how to place an IV. If your resume states you have 5+ years of nursing experience, you can skip this fact. Instead, highlight a more specialized skill. For example, your ability to do patient behavioral health assessments could be very important if you are applying for a job at a mental health center.

Patient Care Skills

Patient care skills describe your ability to interact effectively and empathetically with patients.  As you decide which patient care skills to put on your resume for nursing, be sure to highlight a mix of hard and soft skills

Here are some good ones to bring up: 

  • Empathy
  • Patient bathing and hygiene
  • Moving and transferring
  • Patient communication
  • Monitoring
  • Comfort care
  • Family communication
  • Pain management 
  • Patient advocacy
empathetic nurse with a senior patient

Interpersonal Skills

Working as a nurse, you will be required to work with a variety of people. Patients will be your primary focus. Therefore, it is good to get to know them as well as establish their needs to properly deliver the required care. 

Working with families will also be a crucial part of your role,  especially if you specialize in long-term patient care. Family members will understandably have a lot of questions about the health of their loved ones. 

Finally, you will be consistently working with other professionals in your field. Constantly speaking to other colleagues, relaying important information, and so much more. 

Demonstrating strong interpersonal skills on your resume can give you an advantage over other applicants. 

Here are several examples of interpersonal skills for nurses: 

  • Awareness: Being aware of your surroundings can quite literally save lives. Even noticing the smallest difference can change even the most drastic outcomes.
  • Empathy: Possessing empathy for others can honestly make you a better nurse. By understanding your patient from all sides, you can most likely provide them with better care.
  • Flexibility: Remember that each person you care for will have a different personality and, of course, different needs. Displaying flexibility when it comes to doing various medical manipulations, scheduling appointments, or delivering chronic illness care is often expected from experienced nurses.
  • Patience: Working as a nurse, you will likely be subject to a lot of annoyances. Hostile emotions from patients and their families, who likely feel the need to lash out at something or someone. Confusion among patients, and even the inability to articulate their needs. By showing and establishing patience in your nursing career, you will be seen as a more capable nurse.
  • Respect: As a person in general, it is good to showcase respect towards others in any given circumstance, however when you are a nurse it is especially important. As you will be constantly monitored throughout the day by both patients and colleagues.

Self Management Skills

Nursing is a high-paced role, requiring high personal productivity. But that’s not an easy state to be in during long working hours or gruesome days when the department is overflowing. Being able to properly manage your energy levels, attention to detail, and work motivation is what good self-management is all about. 

Here are just a few indications of those with good self-management skills.

  • Self Motivation. Most people rely on extrinsic motivation to power through their workdays — getting praise, approval, or another type of recognition from others. Nurses, however, must rely more on intrinsic (internal) motivation as external triggers may not always be readily available. A person with good self-management skills won’t need any external motivators to help them finish their work.
  • Self Discipline. Work can be difficult with any job, but it still has to be done. This is why self-discipline is so important. By possessing it, you will be more capable of powering through tougher medical tasks. People with good self-discipline tend to be more motivated, and have better organizational and time management skills. All of these are much-valued by healthcare institutions.
  • Adaptability. Adaptability has recently been proven to be one of, if not the most important, self-management skills. The global pandemic taught us how to quickly and efficiently adapt to changing circumstances. Yet, most nursing roles require adaptability even in “normal” times as patients rarely crash on schedule and other events often disrupt the regular workflows.
  • Prioritization. For nurses, there’s rarely a low-priority task. Everything has to be done immediately. Still, everything cannot always be a priority. Experienced nurse knows how to prioritize tasks on their agenda and deal with conflicting requirements from superiors. Prioritization is probably one of the more difficult skills to master, so if this is something you already excel at, illustrate this on your resume. 

Discover even more self-management skills for your resume

Digital Literacy Skills

The ability to work with computers, data, and technology has become a must for almost every job, nursing included. Globally, hospitals are increasingly investing in electronic data capture (45%), advanced healthcare applications such as telemedicine apps (34%), and better data sharing standards (21%). 

Hence, nurses are now required to possess a broader range of digital literacy skills such as experience with EHR/EMR software, connected medical equipment, and other online healthcare tools. 

Here are several digital literacy skills you might want to bring up on your nursing resume: 

  • Computer literacy – EHR/EMR, office software, digital record-keeping 
  • Electronic prescriptions / e-Prescribing
  • Data entry and standardization 
  • Online appointment management 
  • Digital tests/lab results ordering 
  • Cybersecurity best practices 
  • Telehealth appointment management 
  • Patient portal management 

Administrative Skills

Solid administrative skills are the capabilities that many nurses need if they are in a position of leadership, even unofficially. Because nurses are so intimately involved with the daily operations of the medical center or hospital, they are often the first to notice administrative and operational issues. This is why it is so important that you have well-developed skills in this area, and the ability to carry them out proactively.

If you regularly take on responsibilities for ensuring that your floor, department, or medical center runs smoothly, you already have a set of resume-worthy qualities. 

Here are a few ways to describe them in your resume: 

  • Vendor communications and management
  • Insurance company communications and follow-up
  • Nursing and other staff evaluations
  • Process improvements and optimization 
  • Budgeting and financial reporting
  • Staff policy development and implementation 
  • Work schedule development and shift management 
  • Staff mentorship, training, and upskilling 

Discover even more administrative skills examples for your resume

Final Thoughts

Most employers will first scan your resume for relevant nursing skills before giving it a thorough read. That’s why you should always make your core competencies prominent. 

For most nursing applicants, the best approach is to create a featured skills section of between three and nine core skill areas. You can add additional skills to each of these categories as needed. These should be the capabilities that are most relevant to the job you are pursuing. 

Then, add any other skills in the education and job history sections of your resume. Give these contexts by showing how you applied these skills in your daily work as a nursing professional. By following this simple strategy, you can create an A-level resume and ace your job application!

Author

  • Elena runs content operations at Freesumes since 2017. She works closely with copywriters, designers, and invited career experts to ensure that all content meets our highest editorial standards. Up to date, she wrote over 200 career-related pieces around resume writing, career advice... more

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