Top Volunteer Experiences RNs Need to Build Their Resume
By Alana Luna, contributor
Graduating from college is a laudable achievement, but then you have to start building your nursing resume. With limited real-world experience and the ink on your diploma barely dry, how can you snag a recruiter’s attention?
Many people believe the key to hearing “you’re hired” is including a list of your charitable endeavors. Here’s a look at the top nursing volunteer experiences that may help your application rise to the top of the heap.
6 Ways to Make Your Nursing Resume Standout
1. Fundraising for nonprofit healthcare organizations
In addition to being an RN and completing her BSN, Kathy Whitlock serves as the director of clinical operations for MedExpress. In that capacity, Whitlock sees quite a few nursing resumes cross her desk, and she knows exactly what to look for.
“I believe volunteerism often reflects an applicant's character - which, in many cases, is just as important to me as actual experience and background,” says Whitlock. She recommends that nurses opt for volunteer opportunities that “benefit those who are vulnerable or less fortunate” to showcase their dedication to raising up the community as a whole.
2. Going beyond the bedside
Nurses work hard to amass diverse skill sets and master high technical medical procedures, but sometimes what patients truly desire is some compassion and companionship. Studies indicate that patients who have companionship after surgery tend to heal faster, and when you’re willing to address the patient’s holistic needs rather than just their medical requirements, you’re showcasing your understanding of healing factors that go beyond stitches and antibiotics.
3. Working with disadvantaged children
Though the Affordable Care Act has made significant strides in helping reduce the number of children without healthcare coverage, some Americans under the age of 18 still don’t have insurance. Committing your time to organizations that conduct low-cost or free wellness checks, immunizations and other crucial services is a fantastic way to demonstrate your understanding of what your community’s kids need most.
“Any volunteer activities that help underprivileged children who may not have convenient access to healthcare are very noble and really impress me,” admits Whitlock.
4. Humanitarian trips to a foreign country
Making a difference locally is impressive, but some recruiters want to see more worldly experience on your nursing resume.
Sarah Johnston owns The Briefcase Coach, a resume writing business. “I have observed that the #1 off-the-cusp question nurses get in a job interview is ‘Oh, I see here on your resume you went to X third world country on a medical mission trip. Tell me about that experience.’”
Johnson continues, “Hiring managers and recruiters generally love this experience and see it as altruistic and great professional development.”
5. Volunteer for a professional association
Find new references for your nursing resume and expand your nursing volunteer experience at the same time by connecting with professional associations both in and out of your industry. Christopher K. Lee, founder and career consultant for Purpose Redeemed, suggests branching out and expanding your horizons.
“Whether you're looking to move into management, getting involved in a health administration group will open new doors,” explains Lee. “For example, the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) has local groups across the country. If you live in or near a metropolitan area, there is likely a local chapter. In rural areas, chapters may be fledgling. However, this may be an even better opportunity to organize and step into leadership.”
6. Get involved with disaster relief organizations
Nurse volunteers swept in after Hurricane Katrina to administer tetanus shots, patch up minor injuries and perform other key health care tasks. The same selfless rush toward danger has taken nurses to fire zones, tsunami sites, blizzard-riddled cities and beyond.
Whether you’re just beginning to build a brilliant career or looking for ways to perfect your nursing resume as you interview for a new position, including your top nursing volunteer experiences could prove to be the deciding factor that tilts the scales in your direction.