Magazine article American Nurse Today

Creating and Developing a Professional CV: Your CV Should Highlight the Leadership Skills You Display Every Day

Magazine article American Nurse Today

Creating and Developing a Professional CV: Your CV Should Highlight the Leadership Skills You Display Every Day

Article excerpt

NURSE LEADERSHIP within health care was a key focus of the 2010 Institute of Medicine/Robert Wood Johnson landmark report on the future of nursing. But what is a leadership role? Do you have to be the director of nursing to be in a leadership role? No. Can bedside clinicians hold leadership roles and have a strong voice? Yes. Nurses demonstrate their inherent leadership every day through the work they do to organize, plan, and manage patient care, and influence outcomes.

Promoting yourself as a leader and showcasing your professional career as a nurse can be accomplished in various ways, including with a professional curriculum vitae (CV). Historically, the CV was considered important for faculty positions in academic settings. In today's complex, competitive healthcare world, the CV is vital for nurses in all settings and at all levels of their careers.

CV defined

The CV really is all about you. It documents your accomplishments and experiences as a nurse, and beyond. Don't think of it as a resume. Typically, resumes are general, concise, and short--only one to two pages. They include name, contact information, educational history, work experience, and references. Sometimes potential employers or academic organizations (if you're applying to school) require this short synopsis of your nursing experience.

A CV, on the other hand, is a specific, detailed document of your life's journey as a nurse. In addition to highlighting information found in a resume, your CV should include sections about your professional presentations, publications, committee work, and community service. It should illustrate your achievements as well as what you give back to nursing and your community.

(Visit to see a sample CV.)

Let's get started

Creating your CV requires thought and organization, so the earlier in your career you start, the easier updating and maintaining it will be. The following tips will help you format and organize your CV.


Keep your CV simple, professional, and easy to follow. No fancy fonts, clip art, or graphics. Use a font that's easy to read, such as Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman. The flow from section to section should be logical to a reader.


Several headings are required in the CV, including your name with credentials (for example, Susan Mary Jones, BSN, RN, CCRN), contact information, educational history, and work experience. Note your highest earned academic degree immediately after your name, then indicate your professional licensure followed by certifications. Note certifications last because they might not be continued if criteria for renewal aren't met. Separate your credentials with a comma. If you include your personal email, don't use your "suzybabe" address; create a professional one.

Use the print preview tool of your word-processing program so you can see what the CV will look like to a reader, then make adjustments as needed.


Decide what sections to include in your CV. For example, if you've presented topics at hospital council meetings or on your unit, include a professional presentations section. Presentations promote leadership in nursing, and they don't have to occur at the national or international level to be included. On the other hand, if you haven't completed research projects or participated on a research team, don't include a research initiatives section. All items within each section should be listed in reverse chronologic order (most current first). (See What should you include in your CV?)

If you're a new nurse, you may want to include a non-nurse job if your responsibilities related to nursing-type skills (for example, leadership, organization, teamwork, multitasking). If just before nursing school you worked at the local garden center, for example, and managed employees, ordered inventory, and addressed customer complaints, include it in the CV. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.