How to Incorporate Student Experience
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.)
To answer this question you should ask yourself:
- Will it confuse the reader as to my status? i.e.,
new grad vs. experienced
- Is the experience pertinent?
- 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
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
Your cover letter is also another avenue for you to expand
on the past experiences you had as a student.