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10 Ways to Gain Nursing Work Experience

No matter where you work, employers highly value nursing job experience. Companies want to hire individuals with proven skillsets who can contribute to operations right off the bat. This makes it tricky for fresh graduates and nursing students to find work early in their careers. As early as possible, you want to build your resume with relevant work experience that will make you attractive to prospective employers. This article will cover 10 unique ways you can gain that work experience.

Look for volunteer work

Volunteering is a great way to get work experience. Local hospitals, clinics, community outreach programs and other healthcare facilities are often looking for such volunteers. You can volunteer after school or work or all throughout summer break, if you are still studying. Not only do you get nursing work experience, it shows your prospective employers or schools that you are invested in helping others and truly contributing to the community.

Find internship offers

Internship programs let you work within a healthcare setting for a limited amount of time. Whether you are in high school or college, this nursing experience hones both your nursing skills and knowledge under the tutelage of industry experts. If you leave a good impression, you will expand your professional networks and open up future job opportunities. You can find internships either through your school, network or job listing websites.

Nurse shadowing

When you “shadow'' a nurse, you follow them as they carry out their regular duties. While you shadow them, you will gain nursing work experience under their supervision and instruction. Along the way, you will learn more about nursing and can even start networking. You can find shadowing opportunities either through your school or from local organizations.

Find non-clinical healthcare work

Clinical nursing experience is not the only opportunity available to you. There are many job opportunities within the healthcare field that do not involve direct medical practice, but they still let you build nursing work experience. Nurse research, hospice, or working at a group home lets you learn about the nursing industry and network.

Gain certification in Basic Life Support and First Aid

Basic life support classes (or BLS) and First Aid skills taught by the American Red Cross is an incredibly fruitful experience for nurses. These courses teach you crucial skills, including (but not limited to), cardiopulmonary resuscitation, caring for burns, lacerations, neck and back injuries and more. At the very end, students will be tested on both their knowledge and practical application. Finishing these classes shows your school or facility that you are driven to broaden your nursing experiences and knowledge.

Join HOSA Future Health Professionals

HOSA is an international group meant to support the growth of future healthcare workers and the healthcare industry at large. Through this program, students have the opportunity to apply for scholarships, set realistic career goals and develop necessary readiness and leadership skills,

Become a Certified Nursing Assistant

Becoming a CNA lets you gain nursing working experience the earliest. CNAs primarily assist patients with their daily tasks like bathing and dressing, feeding, moving them from room to room. It will vary depending on the program, but CNA classes typically take around 8 weeks to finish. While pay is lower than most registered nurses, you can take RN courses while you work. As a bonus, CNA experience also looks good in university applications.

Take on a summer job

Summer jobs are an opportunity to earn money on the side while gaining relevant nursing work experience. Caregiver, lab assistant, nurse aide and transporter are just a few great options. Note that the opportunities available to you depend on your prior education. For example, young high school students will not have as many lucrative or challenging nursing work experiences compared to college students and graduates.

Highlight other relevant work experience

Direct nursing experiences are not the only items you can add to a resume. If you have worked extensively in other industries, you can highlight them provided that they showcase relevant soft skills. Examples include attention to detail, communication with teammates and customers, critical thinking and more.

Build and consult your network

Networking is as valuable to nursing as it is to any other profession. When you network, you form friendships and connections with people within your industry. This could be other nurses, family and friends, fellow nursing students, alumni and more. Networking also lets you find more job opportunities, as your friends can notify you early about open positions or recommend you to their employers. You can find a lot of job opportunities on your own, but you can find even more with the help of others.

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