This is the time of year when soon-to-be-graduating nursing students start to panic. Their college years are almost over. In two short months, they will be graduating and preparing for the NCLEX exam - It’s time to get a job. As if there isn’t enough going on, they are faced with the critically important task of writing a resume. I am posting some suggestions I offer to them below: 

Some ways to describe student nurse /PCA duties:
Instead of  "I gave baths and assisted with ADLs"
Say I assisted patients in meeting their personal care needs and provided individualized attention/interventions while encouraging patient involvement in self-care, promoting independence,  and maintaining dignity

Instead of:  "I was a float"
Try:  I have experience adapting to any hospital unit / a variety of clinical areas /changing situations/environments.  I have the ability to quickly establish rapport and a positive working relationship with nurses and ancillary staff. I can quickly orient myself to unit, independently take initiatives/ require minimal assistance/ encouragement/ instruction…

I can function as an integrated member of the staff/team in any situation and deliver the safe, effective/efficient care to complex pts. I can readily/easily adapt methods/ interventions to a wide range of situations.

Instead of  "I was a sitter"
Try: I have experience providing focused, one-to-one care and ensuring a safe, nurturing/caring/positive environment for patient’s who are at a significant risk for injury or complications.

Other descriptions of duties
-Acted as pt advocate, expressing pt concerns/needs/desires to nurses and other staff who were unable to devote/ spend as much time with patient

-Utilized the time spent providing personal care/bathing to: perform thorough skin assessments, assess nutrition and hydration, look for signs of neglect and abuse, spot early signs of skin breakdown and/or identify pts who were at risk, promote measures to prevent skin breakdown, initiate toileting schedule,  etc

- Ensure adequate nutrition and hydration, assess for problems with chewing and/or swallowing /eating difficulties that may increase risk of aspiration/ poor nutrition.  Assisted pt/family with increasing safety awareness/promting a safe environment;  set-up meal, encourage independence/feed self,  ensure proper positioning to promote adequate food absorption and digestion, prevent aspiration, etc.

-Accurately monitored/assessed and reported/recorded intake and output, nutrition/hydration status.

-Educated pts/families on fall prevention, safety risks, use of call bell, importance of calling for assistance, etc.

-Ensured adequate lighting, clear pathways, safe transfers, promoted/reinforced proper positioning, transfer techniques, use of assistive devices.

-Ensured that all items were within reach and pt was comfortable, adjusting temperature, lighting, clothing, bedding/ linen was clean, dry and wrinkle free.

- Assisted with communication with families, making pt/family needs known, answered questions, directed to appropriate sources to answer questions, etc. 

- Promote socialization, conversation, allow patient to express concerns in a non-judgemental, non hurried environment.

- Assessed level of orientation, ability to read and understand written material (menu, paper) and comprehend what was read, ability to make decisions (meal choices), etc.