Showcasing Your Experience as a New Grad
It's spring! And that means one thing - New Grads. I am going to devote my next few blogs to the graduating class of 2015.
First, let's talk about communicating experience on your resume. New Grads have 2 common misconceptions.
Until I have my first NP or PA job I have no experience.
If you believe this you are selling yourself and your skills short. Your clinical rotations are your most recent and most relevant experience and it is critical that your rotations be front and center on your resume. Create a section on your resume and label it something like "student experience" or "clinical rotations." Under this heading you will list each of your clinical sites much as you would list a paid job. Note the number of hours in each rotation, the focus of the rotation (peds, gyn, etc.) and the skills you mastered during that rotation. It's also helpful to give an example of the number of patients you saw each day - this gives the prospective employer an idea of your productivity. Consult your clinical logs if you need a reminder of what sort of cases and patients you were seeing. Avoid uninformative statements like "proficient at physical exams, assessing and diagnosing." That is the definition of a NP/PA rather than a summary of your individual accomplishments and it won't help you stand out from other applicants. Focus instead on skills you mastered or conditions you managed.
My jobs before and during school count as my experience.
This is a common mistake. NPs tend to want to highlight their nursing experience. Employers want to know that you worked as a nurse but you shouldn't over emphasize this section on your resume. Remember, you are competing against experienced NPs for positions. Experienced NPs that were also nurses too! You shouldn't devote valuable resume space to detailing your job duties as an RN. A simple one or two line entry is sufficient. If employers want to know more about your nursing position they will ask you in an interview.
PAs should follow the same principal for your previous healthcare related jobs. Include the position, but keep it simple. The name of the employer, dates of employment and your job title should be sufficient.
For both NP and PA new grads it isn't necessary to prove to an employer you are reliable and can hold a job. It's understood that if you can make it through a grueling NP or PA program you are no slouch. New grad NPs and PAs should also NEVER include non-medical or non-healthcare work experience on their resume. The only exception is if you were in the military or held a high level position such as a CEO.