The Résumé Rx

New Grad Nurse Practitioner (NP) Resumes: Should you use a resume or CV?

Amanda Guarniere

Some of the most common questions I get from new graduate nurse practitioners are whether you need a resume or a CV,  what’s the different between a resume and CV, and what is a CV in the first place?. Many experienced RNs just aren’t sure how their documents and nursing professional resume in particular should change once they transition into the role of NP.

Many are surprised to hear that the confusion isn’t just among new NPs and nursing professionals – most employers probably are not sure of the actual difference either!

In the video below, you’ll learn:

  • The traditional difference between a résumé and a C.V.
  • Who I think needs a true C.V., and who needs a detailed résumé
  • The story behind the longest C.V. I ever wrote

Keep scrolling to read my explanation for whether you need a resume or C.V. as a nurse practitioner.

The Difference Between a Resume or CV

Truthfully, this is a big topic, but I’m going to do my best to break down my thoughts. As a NP school student, or soon to be new grad NP, I’m sure you’re getting ready. to put together this document to support your upcoming job search, so I want to provide you with my clear recommendation.

The first thing I’ll say is many people, including myself, use the terms resume and CV interchangeably. So don’t ever get hung up on a position that requests a resume and you think you have a CV, or a position that requests CV and you think you have a resume. Because chances are, 9 times out of 10, that even the employer is actually referring to the same thing! Even though they are technically different documents, intended for different professionals in different situations.

If you are preparing for a clinical career as a nurse practitioner (meaning a career where you’re going to be seeing patients), chances are you’re documents of a CV and a resume are going to be pretty similar.

C.V. stands for curriculum vitae. What that means literally in Latin, is your life’s work. So a traditional CV is a chronological report of pretty much every professional thing you have ever done. Whereas a traditional resume is a one to three page document that includes relevant information for the job for which you are applying.

Said another way: a CV can be many, many, many pages long, and is a chronological – almost biography – of your professional work listed out. A resume on the other hand, is typically two to three pages of curated information. The information featured on your resume can (and should) vary depending on the specific job you’re applying to and is intended to highlight the relevant parts of your professional career that are applicable to the direction you’re going in next.

Do NPs Need a Resume or CV?

So who needs a resume? The majority of NP school students, most likely!

If you are a NP student who has followed on a traditional career path: starting as a RN, going to nurse practitioner school, graduating and planning a clinical career seeing patients in a clinic or the hospital – you’re someone who I would recommend crafts and submits a traditional resume.

A CV is better suited for someone who perhaps has a long standing history of an academic career. Maybe this is a faculty member who is planning to move into a research career, or applying to clinical instructor positions, or doing something a little bit more academic. In that case, you’re likely better suited to craft a CV for your next application.

Now, what if you are someone who’s doing both of those things? Let’s say you have, or you want to have both a clinical and an academic career. Not a problem: you can have both a traditional resume and a CV as a nurse practitioner. But if you are planning for your first clinical NP job, chances are, you need what I would call a traditional nursing resume that highlights your clinical career achievements thus far, on 1-3 pages.

If you’re ready to write your own résumé and/or CV and you want an easy way to get it done, then my Nurse Résumé Template Bundle is a great tool to help transform your documents.

Shop the Nurse Resume Template Bundle

What Sections to Include on an NP Resume

Regardless of whether you’re going to craft a resume or CV, there are sections that I recommend for pretty much all nurse practitioners. If you are planning to apply for a new job or position as a nurse practitioner, these sections should be included.

The first section you want to include is your professional profile or your professional summary.

This is the formerly known objective section. This is where you summarize everything and explain to whoever you’re sending this document to the value you will add in your potential position as NP.

Next, you want to feature your education.

You’ll put all the relevant degrees that you have in this section. If you have additional degrees outside of your nursing profession, perhaps nursing is a second career for you, you can choose to leave these off if you’d like. You don’t necessarily have to include everything. You can decide exactly what to feature and what to leave off, but know that education is an important section that you will want to include.

Next you will want to include your licenses and your certifications.

Here you can put current licenses, certifications, and things that are in progress. For example, if you took your boards but your state license hasn’t been issued yet, you can mark that is in progress. But this section is where you put your board certifications, your state licenses, your CPR certifications, and any additional certifications that are relevant to your position, or that you want to document.

Next you’ll of course want to include your work experience.

I usually encourage you to include the most relevant work experience in reverse chronological order, meaning the most recent thing first. You should always include the location, the role that you had, and a number of bullet points that provide context of what you actually did, what you achieved and what you accomplished in that role.

Next, you want to include your professional memberships.

Hopefully as a student and as someone preparing to graduate, you have researched and joined one or two professional memberships. This really speaks to your commitment to the nursing profession. If you hold any committee or titles, you can put those in there as well, as well as the date that you joined. I usually recommend that you include only active memberships, not anything former.

Next, you’ll want to include honors or awards.

If you’ve achieved honors or awards that are relevant to your nursing or NP career or show leadership, these are great to highlight! These types of recognition can attest to your character and are a good thing to include if you have them.

Next, you can include a section highlighting clinical research or publications.

Not every NP student will have clinical research, publications, or poster presentations under their belt, but if you do have these and they’ve performed well, certainly consider including a select publications section! This is a nice way to show that you are committed to your career and that you are committed to research and evidence based practice. If you had a Master’s or doctoral thesis that was either published or presented in some way, you can include this in a select publications section, or a research section.

Lastly, consider sharing volunteer work.

I hope that you have done some community service or some volunteerism either through your workplace, through your school or otherwise through your community. If you have any of these that are relevant within the past five to 10 years, I would include these in a volunteerism or community service section.

So those are the sections that I recommend all nurse practitioners include in their documents, regardless of whether you’re building an NP resume or CV.

Specific Sections for an NP CV

If you think that you need a CV or if you’re applying to an academic position, a faculty position, then there are some additional sections that you will like to include.

  • First, if you’ve had any previous faculty appointments, you will want to list all those and the dates.
  • If you’ve submitted any abstracts or had additional publications, then you will want to list those in the in the appropriate sections.
  • If you’ve attended any symposia, or have done any large presentations, you will want to include those.
  • If you’ve presented at any conferences, you will want to include the topics and the dates of those presentations as well.
  • And don’t forget about any national or international meetings, any work that you did in advocacy for the profession, any board memberships, and any additional committees, either through your employer, through the university or college that you worked in, or anything else that serves the healthcare community at large.

As you can see, a CV can easily turn into multiple multiple pages. Personally, I had the honor and privilege of writing the CV for my former advisor in nurse practitioner school, and she is an accomplished clinical professional. She owns her own clinical practice and an accomplished faculty member at an Ivy League school. She’s even a tenured professor! She has so many accomplishments! And her CV? Her CV was 13 pages long.

That’s really the main difference when I think about a CV versus resume.

Someone who’s had a prolific academic career, such as my former advisor: she has a 13 page CV! But would she use that CV to apply for a job that’s strictly clinical? No, she wouldn’t. She would trim it down to a two to three page, highlight reel of her career and focus more on the clinical things.

The point here is you want to make sure that your documents are relevant and focused on the position that you’re applying to. If it’s a clinical position, have a document that highlights your clinical career. If it’s an academic position, then you’ll likely be wanting to submit that CV that is truly a representation of your life’s work: in other words everything that you’ve done professionally.

I hope this breakdown has been helpful to you as you sort through the documentation that you need as a nurse practitioner. Don’t forget, I have some resources there specifically for you as a NP. If you are writing your own resume or CV, you are in luck because my templates for nursing professionals really make this a whole lot easier. My template bundle includes resume and CV templates that have all of these sections already formatted for you. So all you have to do is add in your specific information!

If you are someone who knows you’ve got the info but you just needed to be prompted and put it in the right place then my resume templates may be exactly what you’re looking for.

Shop the Nurse Resume Template Bundle