For those of you about to graduate (yay!!) you are undoubtedly already thinking about the dreaded job hunt and all the good times (and stress) that it entails. While you may not yet be able to apply for any positions until you pass NCLEX, you can start getting your nursing portfolio together…doesn’t that sound like THE perfect thing to work on over Thanksgiving break? Ok, maybe not, but it may be something you will want to create and have ready for that first interview a few months from now.

What is a nursing portfolio? It’s basically a synopsis of your achievements throughout nursing school packaged together with your resume. But, more importantly, it’s a way to help make yourself stand out from the crowd, show prospective employers you take yourself seriously, and show you are giving this job search thing all the attention and care you gave to your education. Basically, it’s to show that you TOTALLY ROCK.

So, what’s in a nursing portfolio? All kinds of goodies!

  • The Cover: my cover simply has my name, license and education level, the job I was applying for (RN-STRONG candidate) and my cell phone. By the way, RN-STRONG was the  name of the new-grad program at my hospital.
  • The Cover Letter
  • Your Resume
    • This can be tricky for new grad students, since we basically have no nursing experience when first getting out of school. For my resume, I included the following in this order:
      • Education
      • Certs & Licensing (my RN license, my BLS, ACLS, Cardiac Monitoring course, TNCC and County IV Certification)
      • Honors & Awards from nursing school
      • Preceptorship (here is where I wrote about my 270-hr preceptorship, what I learned, what I did)
      • Clinical Placements (I listed the departments, number of hours and hospitals)
      • Nursing Experience: this included volunteer service and my student nurse highlights
      • Professional Experience: this is good to include for those who have had other careers or jobs with translatable skills
      • Lectures Attended: if you attend workshops, lectures and seminars related to nursing, list those…it shows your interested in staying current in the field.
      • References
    • Faculty Letters: Letters of recommendation from faculty at my school.
    • Employer Letters: If you can get past employers to write recommendation letters for you, go for it! You may need to coach them a little bit so they know which of your attributes to highlight…great at customer service, highly organized, able to juggle multiple priorities, conscientious, caring, patient…etc.
    • Nursing Philosophy: For my leadership class we had to write out our nursing philosophy statement…I figured I’d make it count for something! My statement contains the following sections: Introduction, what nursing means to me, my personal philosophy of heath/wellness, the health care consumer (the patient…wrote about patient-centers care), the environment of nursing (I wrote about an environment that fosters communication, teamwork, respect), Value Development (how my values will help me be a good nurse), 5-year plan (my goals for my career in the next five years. Not sure anyone read it, but I thought it sounded good, so I included it!
    • Clinical Evaluations & Skills: This is where I kept all those clinical evals I’d saved up. Also I included the mater list of all skills we learned in nursing school so they could see I knew how to insert an NGT, by golly!
    • Transcripts: You’ll want to show off all those Straight A’s!
    • Certs & License: I included copies of my certs and my license. So they’d know I was legit, man!
    • Honors: I won some award from a local hospital, got a scholarship, joined Sigma Theta Tau…if you’ve got something honorable, include it…toot your own horn!
    • Course work: I included a really cool and complex concept map for my ICU clinical that I thought would show my ability to analyze a LOT of information about a patient. I also added the LATTE acronym that I made up and a case management paper. Only include things that show you are excellent…you don’t want to include every single thing you ever did…the top 4-5 highlights.
    • Immunizations: I also included a list of current immunizations, but I don’t even know if this is necessary. I was being uber thorough…surprised?

I put it all into a 1/2 inch 3-ring binder with a flexible cover, added Nursing Portfoliotabs (I LOVE TABS!) and used it as a leave-behind for job interviews. Coming up soon…a list of interview questions and some ways to answer them! I am full of the funs these days!

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Enjoy your break, do something kind for yourself, see a friend and spend at least one afternoon in your pajamas….PROMISE ME you will, ok?

Be safe out there!

Nurse Mo


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