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Career Coach

How to Incorporate Student Experience

Published February 5, 2014 5:50 PM by Renee Dahring
Dear Career Coach:

I am an experienced PA and was reading your resume tips for NPs. However, I'm wondering about your guidance on listing clinical rotations. You mentioned listing clinical rotations is only a good idea if you are a new grad NP. Do you think the same applies for PAs who have completed rotations in surgery and other procedural specialties? (ER, general, surgical, derm/plastics, etc.)

Dear Reader:

To answer this question you should ask yourself:

  1. Will it confuse the reader as to my status? i.e., new grad vs. experienced
  2. Is the experience pertinent? 
  3. Does it make me more competitive?

Generally, whether you are an NP or PA, if you have obtained your first position it's time to retire the student rotations section from your resume. One of the reasons is to eliminate confusion for the prospective employer. It is one way of saying "I am no longer a new graduate - I am a practicing clinician with actual work experience." 

If you are a new graduate, your student rotation section is the most effective method to demonstrate to the employer that you possess the pertinent skills. What you did as a student is really the only valid experience you have in the advanced practice role. And because the job opening is for an advanced practice clinician (not an RN or EMT) this section becomes crucial. 

Many new grads mistakenly believe their RN or other healthcare experience is going to be more valuable than it really is and they will devote too much space on their resume to their previous non NP/PA jobs.

It's OK to briefly include your previous healthcare positions on your resume but you are far better off putting more emphasis on outlining your student clinical rotations. Why? Because your RN or EMT skills aren't going to give you much of an advantage if your competition is experienced NPs and PAs. And quite frankly, if an employer wishes to know more about your jobs prior to school they will ask you in the interview. 

In your example of seeking specialty practice, I believe that your student rotation experience is pertinent and would make you more competitive. Since specialty rotations can vary from student to student the prospective employer would have no idea that you had spent time in the related rotation. Speaking of pertinent, I would only include the rotation(s) that applies to the job you are seeking or you risk violating the above criteria. 

To avoid confusion of your status, I would note your student experience in a separate section from your work experience and clearly label the section "related experience." Keep it brief, include information such as the number of hours, the types of cases and identify your responsibilities and accomplishments.

Your cover letter is also another avenue for you to expand on the past experiences you had as a student.

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    Occupation: Nurse Practitioners and NP Recruiters
    Setting: correctional healthcare/career consulting/teaching
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