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Guide to Nursing Skills: A Checklist For Your Career & Resume [+Tips]

Guide to Nursing Skills: A Checklist For Your Career & Resume [+Tips]

To be a great nurse you must have a set of strong nursing skills. But what are they exactly? Read on to find out. And learn which ones are the best nursing skills for your resume.

Considering a career in nursing?

 

Great!

 

This guide will help you see if you have what it takes to become a successful nurse.

 

Already a nurse looking for a job?

 

Lovely!

 

We’ll show you how to give your nursing skills a proper treatment on your resume.

 

This article will show you:

 

  • A checklist of basic skills required for nursing.
  • Lists of specialized nursing skills for a resume.
  • Examples of how to put nursing skills on a resume.
  • Instructions on how to show off your nursing skills on a resume.

 

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sample resume templates

Sample resume made with our builder—See more templates and create your resume here.

 

Want to learn how to write the best resumes for healthcare professionals? Read our guides:

 

 

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Nursing Skills for Various Specialties

 

Here’s the thing:

 

It’s not enough to simply have the best nursing skills—

 

You need to put them in the spotlight on your nursing resume.

 

Here’s a list of popular nursing resume skills for you to consider:

 

Examples of Nursing Skills for a Resume—List

 

  • Administering and monitoring moderate sedation
  • Appearance/character of urine and stool assessment
  • Assessing the respiratory system
  • Care of drains/tubes
  • Chest tube management
  • Collaboration and Teamwork
  • Critical decision-making
  • Fall risk assessment/prevention
  • General medicine expertise
  • IV Therapy
  • National patient safety goals/core measures
  • Nebulizer treatments
  • Obtaining cultures for septic workup (e.g. blood, sputum, catheter tips)
  • Obtaining peripheral venous blood
  • Patient rights
  • Performing complex dressing changes
  • Restraints/use of least restrictive device
  • Seizure precautions
  • Specimen collection

 

When selecting the right nursing skills for your resume, it’s crucial to focus on the skills characteristic of your specialization.

 

Take a look at the specialized clinical nursing skills checklist below to pick out your strongest nursing resume skills:

 

ICU Nursing Skills List

 

  • Automatic Internal Cardioverter Defib (AICD)
  • Cardiogenic/Hypovolemic Shock patient care
  • Chest Tubes (Pleur-Evac)
  • Hickman/Broviac/Groshong catheter
  • Identification and intervention during complications (CSG leak, clot, herniation, tension pneumothorax, aspiration, pulmonary edema, etc.)
  • Nebulizer treatments
  • Pain management
  • Renal failure (acute/chronic) patient care
  • Seizure precautions
  • Ventricular Assist Device (RVAD/LVAD) patient care

 

Visit our ICU Nurse Resume Writing Guide for more examples of intensive care unit nursing skills and step-by-step instructions on how to write a resume.

 

Certified Nursing Assistant Skills List

 

  • Assisting with using a bedpan
  • Changing bed linen
  • Radial pulse
  • Measuring and recording respiration
  • Catheter care
  • Electronic documentation
  • Following care plans
  • Adaptive equipment and safety devices
  • Recording vital signs
  • Mentoring

 

Check out our CNA Resume Writing Guide to see more examples of CNA nursing resume skills.

 

Emergency Nursing Skills List

 

  • Burn patients
  • Care of drains/tubes
  • CCU
  • ER Level 1 (Trauma)
  • ICU
  • Pain management
  • Specimen Collections
  • Telemetry/Stepdown
  • Transport and set-up
  • Use of hypothermia blanket

 

Take a look at our ER Nurse Resume Writing Guide for a comprehensive list of ER nursing resume skills.

 

Med-Surg Nursing Skills List

 

  • Administering and monitoring IV anticoagulants
  • General medicine/surgery expertise
  • Inserting IVs/IV therapy
  • IV Certified
  • Monitoring and assessing I&O
  • Obtaining peripheral venous blood
  • Performing complex dressing changes
  • Using PCA System
  • Using PICC, Hickman, Central Line
  • Using SCD or venodyne devices

 

Our Med-Surg Nurse Resume Writing Guide will not only show you how to make a job winning resume but also offer a detailed Med-Surg nursing resume skills list.

 

Pediatric Nursing Skills List

 

  • Administering and monitoring 02 therapy
  • Administering blood and blood values
  • Appearance/character of urine and stool assessment
  • Assessing the respiratory system
  • Bowel sound assessment
  • Caring for child patients with Meningococcemia
  • Chest tube management
  • Immunocompromised patient care
  • Knowledge of Jehovah Witness patient protocol
  • Obtaining cultures for septic workup (e.g. blood, sputum, catheter tips)

 

Go to our Pediatric Nurse Resume Writing Guide to explore more examples of pediatric nursing skills for a resume.

 

Labor and Delivery Nursing Skills List

 

  • Application of external ECG/TOCO EFM
  • Assisting with the insertion of IUPC
  • Conducting NST/BSST
  • Emergency C-section set up
  • Management of fetal demise/stillborn
  • Pitocin Titration for induction/augmentation
  • Procedures for prolapsed cord, placenta previa, hemorrhage, shoulder dystocia, etc.

 

In our Labor and Delivery Nurse Resume Writing Guide, you can see more examples of nursing skills for labor and delivery nurses.

 

LPN Nursing Skills List

 

  • Acute and rehabilitative care
  • Admitting and discharging
  • Care plan assessment
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • GI feeding and tubes
  • Meditech documentation
  • Patient/family education
  • PICC Line care
  • Pre-death monitoring

 

Read our LPN Resume Writing Guide for even more LPN nursing resume skills and a detailed guide on how to write an LPN resume.

 

Looking for more information on practical nursing resume skills? Check out our nursing resume writing guides for different nursing specializations:

 

 

Once you’ve decided which nursing skills are the ones you’d like to show off on your resume, you’ll have to make sure they truly stand out.

 

Remember—

 

To a hiring manager, you’re just a sheet of paper in a huge heap.

 

The best way to get a job is to make sure your resume screams you’re the best right in the recruiter’s face.

 

How to make sure your nursing skills are highlighted on your resume?

 

Tailor your resume to the job description.

 

Here’s how:

 

  • Start off with your current or last position. Follow it up with the previous ones.
  • Make sure each entry lists your job title, dates, and the name of the hospital/company.
  • Don’t write full paragraphs. List your experience as bullet points (6-7 per job will do.)
  • Don’t just describe your duties. Learn to present them as your accomplishments on your resume.
  • To achieve maximum impact, start each bullet with a resume action verb.
  • Try to quantify your experience and put numbers (or percentages) where possible.

 

Before we move on, realize this:

 

More and more American healthcare institutions rely on the so-called ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) for recruitment purposes.

 

Why?

 

Because job offers may attract as many as 250+ candidates, which makes it extremely hard for hiring managers to get to the resumes that actually meet the position requirements.

 

If you don’t want your application to go straight to the rejected folder, you need to make sure you use the right resume keywords to describe your nursing skills for a resume.

 

How to identify these keywords?

 

Revisit the job offer and describe your experience and nursing resume skills using the phrases you find there.

 

For example, your nursing assistant resume skills could be presented like this:

 

Nursing Assistant Skills for a Resume

 

  • Provided patient care assignments as delegated by and under the direction of an RN.
  • Respected and regarded the dignity of patients, families, visitors, and fellow employees to ensure a professional, responsible and courteous environment.
  • Cooperated with 3+ department and unit teams inter- and intra-departmentally to facilitate the department's and unit's ability to meet goals and objectives.

 

This way, you can be sure the relevant keywords are included, and you’ve presented exactly the nursing skills the employer is searching.

 

But—

 

You can do even more to give your nursing skills maximum exposure on a resume.

 

Cherry-pick up to three of your achievements you can quantify and you take pride in and put them in a separate key achievements subsection:

 

Critical Care Nursing Skills for a Resume

 

  • Consistently met high standards of service by achieving an average of over 95% compliance rate.
  • Won Nurse of the Year Award by scoring 93% in an internal patient experience survey

 

If you single out your biggest wins like this, you can be sure your best intensive care unit nursing skills won’t go unnoticed.

 

Finally—

 

Put your strongest nursing skills in a dedicated key skills section to draw the recruiter’s attention to your strongest side.

 

The trick is not to populate the section with random nursing skills.

 

Pick out the clinical nursing skills and techniques that you excel at. Plus, look back at your job description section to pick out the skills you’d really like to show off.

 

Pro Tip: Select up to 10 key nursing skills to put in your resume’s key skills section. And go for the ones you have a very strong grasp of to avoid Presenter’s Paradox.

 

And one more thing.

 

You can also use the objective of a nurse resume to present your nursing skills.

 

Here’s what it could look like:

 

Skills Summary for a Nursing Resume

 

Compassionate and adaptable Registered Nurse with 10+ years of experience in high patient turnover hospital units. Eager to support the Hospital of St John the Baptist with superb organizational and ER nursing skills. In the previous role managed a team of 5 ER nurses in an 18-bed Level-2 Emergency Room.

 

The example above proves you can pepper your entire registered nurse resume with relevant nursing skills and sought-after character traits of a nurse.

 

So—

 

Make sure you put every square inch of your resume to good use and demonstrate your nursing expertise.

 

Not sure how to go about writing your job-winning resume? Here’s a guide to get you on the right track: How to Make a Resume for a Job: from Application to Interview in 24h

 

Or maybe you’re a nursing student struggling with getting their resume right? Don’t worry and head straight to our guide: Nursing Student Resume Template & Guide for New Grads

 

When making a resume in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check. Start building your resume here.

When you’re done, Zety’s resume builder will score your resume and tell you exactly how to make it better.

 

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Basic Nursing Skills

 

It should come as no surprise:

 

Nursing jobs require you to display a wide array of skills, ranging from the knowledge of clinical nursing skills and techniques to various soft skills.

 

Some of the most popular nursing clinical skills cover such areas as:

 

  • Vital signs (e.g. assessing body temperature, peripheral pulse, apical pulse, or blood pressure)
  • General health assessment (e.g. using a bed scale, assessing cardiovascular system, etc.)
  • Patient safety (e.g. fall prevention, various kinds of restraints, etc.)
  • Asepsis and Infection Control (e.g. preparing a sterile field)
  • Medications (e.g. administering medications via tubes or injections, or subcutaneous infusion)
  • Perioperative nursing (e.g. exercises, or recovery room care)

 

As your nursing career progresses, you’ll come to focus on a particular set of technical nursing skills relevant to your specialization such as ICU nursing skills, or urology nursing skills.

 

In fact, each nursing profession has its own dedicated nursing skills checklist.

 

Undeniably, the best nurses are true masters of their craft but—

 

They also share certain skills and character traits you’ll hardly find on any list of skills required for nursing.

 

Here’s a list of 10 basic nursing skills:

 

  1. Communication
  2. Critical thinking
  3. Time management
  4. Empathy
  5. Leadership skills
  6. Ethics
  7. Attention to detail
  8. Confidence
  9. Adaptability
  10. Stamina

 

Let’s take a closer look at each of them:

 

Communication Skills in Nursing

 

In nursing jobs, more than anywhere else, effective communication skills are vital.

 

Most of the time you’ll be dealing with the people and patient's family members who aren’t at their best. Your patients could be grumpy, irritated, spiteful, uncooperative, worried, grieving, or in shock. You name it.

 

And even though you’ll never fully know what you can expect of them, they’ll always expect one thing of you, namely professionalism. And your professionalism will be judged by the way you communicate with others.

 

Your nursing communication skills are part of a larger skill set, namely interpersonal skills. Keep developing them to become a master communicator.

 

Critical Thinking Skills in Nursing

 

Critical thinking skills always come in handy in dynamic situations with lots of variables. Like deciding on the best course of treatment for your patients.

 

Nurses must be able to think on their feet, weigh in pros and cons, and make informed choices with the patient’s life at the back of their minds. Critical thinking skills in nursing pertain to many different aspects of patient care. From administering medications to making conclusions about the patient’s condition based on the readouts to administering CPR when necessary.

 

Critical thinking skills consist of several interrelated abilities. You can develop your critical thinking skills in nursing by improving your analytical skills and conceptual skills.

 

Time Management Skills in Nursing

 

It goes without saying, time-management skills in nursing are of the essence.

 

In fact, one study identified prioritization as one of the most crucial factors shaping patient experiences.

 

Ever-changing situations, issues calling for your immediate attention, large numbers of patients to take care of, and all this happening simultaneously. All these require you to be a master prioritizer, especially if you happen to be working in an emergency room.

 

It’s impossible to bilocate, but the ability to efficiently allocate your time will take you far. So make sure to keep working on your organizational skills.

 

Empathy in Nursing

 

It all starts with empathy.

 

You do need to have solid clinical nursing skills, but without empathy, you shouldn’t be really considering nursing as a career. The best nurses can relate to the feelings and pain a patient is going through, and channel their compassion constructively, not letting the negative emotions bring them down.

 

And truth be told, a compassionate nurse who cares is sometimes the only thing a patient needs to get better.

 

Leadership Skills in Nursing

 

Nursing leadership skills are a crucial element of a nurse’s professional development.

 

Just remember, leadership is not about your seniority level. It’s about setting an example, inspiring people into action, building trust, and making others feel safe. This is why leadership and decision-making skills are important in nursing.

 

Ethics

 

Strong work ethic has become a bit of a buzzword in modern business.

 

But the nursing profession is much more than business. It’s a mission. And work ethic is one of the essential nursing skills. A strong belief that your hard work serves the greater good and its value transcends hospital walls is fundamental to being a great nurse.

 

Attention to Detail

 

Nursing isn’t for the faint of heart. Nor is it for the careless.

 

Precision and attention to detail are the nursing skills that can mean the difference between a patient’s life or death. Simple as that.

 

If you’re unsure of your attentiveness, you can try doing several things to improve your attention to detail.

 

Confidence

 

Acting and talking in a confident manner is a sign that you know what you’re doing. And it’s not only a crucial nursing skill. It’s also reassuring to the patients, their family members, co-workers, and other medical personnel.

 

Healthcare is not a solitary profession, you need to be sure you’re cooperating with a team of professionals. If someone isn’t sure of what they’re doing, the morale of the entire team might get undermined eventually. On the other hand, would you like to be catheterized by a nurse whose voice is faltering and hands are shaking?

 

Take your time and practice your personal leadership skills to gain confidence and take your nursing skills to new heights.

 

Adaptability

 

When you consider all the skills needed for nursing, adaptability mustn’t go unnoticed.

 

In fact, adaptability should be every nurse's middle name. Why? If there’s one thing that you could expect in your daily nursing work, it would be the unexpected.

 

In such circumstances, only the adaptable can thrive, which segues us into the last item on our nursing skills checklist:

 

Pro Tip: An iCIMS study identified adaptability as the second most desired skill by the employers. Also, adaptability is one of the most crucial employability skills.

 

Stamina

 

Even though stamina comes last on our essential nursing skills list, it’s far from being the least important nursing skill.

 

Quite the opposite. Nursing work is both mentally and physically strenuous, without enough stamina no nurse would be able to go through their working day.

 

Want to find out what skills to put on a resume to boost your chances of landing a job? Here’s a guide just for you: 99 Key Skills for a Resume—Best List of Examples for All Types of Jobs 

 

Plus, a great cover letter that matches your resume will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write it in our cover letter builder here. Here's what it may look like:

 

matching set of resume and cover letter

See more cover letter templates and start writing.

 

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BONUS: Nursing Skills Books

 

Here’s a list of recommended reads for all those who wish to grow professionally and develop their nursing skills:

 

 

Key Takeaways

 

Here’s a summary of all you need to know about nursing skills and how to describe them on your resume for nursing jobs:

 

  • Nursing skills can be divided into two broad categories: clinical nursing skills and soft skills.
  • The technical nursing skills are different for each nursing specialization.
  • Good nurses share certain common soft skills and character traits, such as compassion or adaptability.
  • It’s crucial to display the relevant nursing resume skills to go past the ATS scan and impress the recruiter.

 

Do you have any questions about nursing skills? Maybe you’d like to share some tips on how to develop them or show them on your resume. Give us a shout out in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you!

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Maciej Duszyński
Maciej is a career expert with a solid background in the education management industry. Worked with people at all stages of their career paths: from interns to directors to C-suite members, he now helps you find your dream job.

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