Important Nursing and Nurse Practitioner Skills for Your Resume

Nursing is a difficult, rewarding profession that requires a variety of hard skills. Nurses need to have a lot of medical knowledge and need to be able to perform certain procedures (such as giving vaccinations and drawing blood). These days, they also need to be tech-savvy, because they often have to update patient charts through a hospital’s online database.

Nurses also need some soft skills. They have to be patient and empathetic towards both patients and patients’ families. They need to have strong communication skills to relay information to patients and their families, and also to work effectively with doctors and other nurses.

Skills to Include on Your RN Resume
Read below for a list of five of the most important nursing skills, as well as a longer list of other skills employers seek in nurses. Develop these skills and emphasize them in job applications, resumes, cover letters, and interviews. Having a combination of these hard and soft skills will set you up to be a successful nurse or nurse practitioner, and the closer a match your credentials are to what the employer is looking for, the better your chances of getting hired.

Keep in mind that this list is for RNs (registered nurses). Read here for a list of skills for nursing assistants, and see below for a list of skills needed for nurse practitioners.

Examples of Nursing Skills
Communication Skills
Nurses must have excellent communication skills because so much of what they do involves transmitting information, from instructing and educating patients to briefing doctors and other nurses on changes in a patient’s status. Matters are complicated by the fact that many patients know little about medicine, so health information must be translated into less technical terms. Communicating compassion, respect, and confidence to patients and family who may be frightened or angry are critical. Nurses also have to listen carefully to patients and family to collect important information.

Critical Thinking Skills
Healthcare involves solving puzzles. While most nurses are not responsible for diagnosis or deciding on the course of care, they still must respond correctly to emerging situations, and their input is often invaluable. Some of these decisions are obvious, based on established standards of care, but others are not. Critical thinking skills are highly valued in candidates for employment.

Not all patients are pleasant and polite. Some can be abusive or ungrateful. All deserve compassionate care. The ability to be kind and considerate to someone who is misbehaving, even in the face of one’s discomfort and exhaustion, is critical in nursing.

Observational Skills
Small, subtle changes, such as a strange odor to the breath or a detail of a patient’s lifestyle shared in casual conversation, could be very important diagnostic signs. While nurses are not typically responsible for diagnosis, the doctor might not be present when the change happens, or when the patient shares the information. Nurses have to notice these details and recognize them as important.

Physical Endurance
Nurses often have to move heavy equipment and even patients, and they work very long hours. Physical strength and endurance are therefore very important. Nurses who are not in good condition themselves are liable to develop health problems of their own, requiring care, rather than giving it.

Resume Example Focused on Nursing Skills
Review an example of a resume for a nursing position, then review a list of skills to include on your own resume.

How to Use Skills Lists
You can use these skills lists throughout your job search process in three ways.

Firstly, you can use these skill words in your resume. In the description of your work history, you might want to use some of these keywords. You can also add them to your resume summary if you have one.
Secondly, you can use these in your cover letter. In the body of your letter, mention one or two of these skills, and give a specific example of a time when you demonstrated each of those skills at work.
Finally, you can use these skill words in your interview. Make sure you have at least one example of a time you demonstrated each of the top five skills listed here.
Of course, each job will require different skills and experiences, so make sure you read the job description carefully and focus on the skills listed by the employer.

Also, review our lists of skills listed by job and type of skill.

Practical Nursing Skills List

A – G
Adolescent Care
Administration of Medications
Antibiotic Therapy
Assisting in Surgery
Assisting with Exams and Treatment
Bedside Monitoring
Bladder Irrigation
Blood Administration
Blood Glucose Testing Devices
Cap Change
Cardiac Care
Care of Gastrostomy Tube
Catheter Care
Central Line Dressing
Chemotherapy Administration
Critical Thinking
Data Management
Dressing Application
Dressing Change
Dry Sterile Dressing Application
Electronic Health Records
Emergency Room Care
Family Education
Geriatric Care

H – M
Healthcare Software
Home Care
Hospice Care
Infection Control
Intramuscularly Injections
IV Therapy
Lab Testing
Maintaining Patient Charts
Management of Open Wounds
Maternal Care
Monitoring Vital Signs

N – S
Neonatal Care
Operating Room
Pain Management
Patient Assessment
Patient Education
Patient Evaluation
Patient History
Patient Monitoring
Patient Care
Pediatric Care
Physical Assessments
Physical Endurance
Prenatal Care
Psychiatric Care
Record Keeping
Seizure Precautions
Shunt Dressing Change
Specific Gravity
Sterile Scrub Sponge Change
Suctioning of the Tracheotomy Tube
Surgery Preparation
Suture Removal

T – Z
Telemetry Care
Time Management
Total Parenteral Nutrition and Lipids
Tracheotomy Care
Transparent Wound Dressings
Urine Testing
Wet Sterile Dressing
Withdrawal of Blood Samples
Wound Irrigation
Nurse Practitioner Skills

A – C
Accurately Documenting Patient Condition and Treatment Plans
Adhering to Ethical Principles
Applying Current Research to Medical Practice
Attention to Detail
Coding and Billing for Services
Consulting with Other Health Team Members
Coping with Pressure
Critical Thinking
Customer Service

D – I
Decision Making
Developing Rapport with Patients
Devising Protocols for Nursing Practices
Diffusing Stressful Situations
Evaluating Medical Services
Evaluating Staff Performance
Formulating Care Plans
Healthcare Provider CPR
Interpreting Medical Tests

L – O
Maintaining Confidentiality and Protecting Sensitive Data
Making Referrals to Specialists
Managing Medications
Manual Dexterity
Ongoing Learning
Ordering Physical Therapy and Other Treatments

P – Z
Performing Minor Surgeries
Preparing Health Education Materials
Prescribing Medication
Problem Solving
Promoting Healthy Lifestyles
Taking Initiative
Time Management
Training Staff

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