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Nursing Student Jobs: Build Skills and Gain Experience

two nurses smiling

Jobs are key to helping nursing students gain real-world experience, and various positions are available for aspiring nurses or even aspiring student nurses who have yet to be licensed or obtain certification. 

If you need to beef up your resume and enhance your nursing skills, learn from Morgan Lima, RN, MSN, ACRN (@theteachablenurse) on where to look for jobs for nursing students, how to use keywords to find open positions, and how to highlight your experience when applying for future nursing jobs below!

Here are some key points you should take note of from the webinar:

What are traditional jobs for nursing students?

Traditionally, jobs for nursing students are nurse externships and nursing assistants. 

Nurse externships are formal programs through hospitals connected with nursing schools. Nursing students who have completed a certain level of education are recruited by hospitals, and the program typically takes place in the summer with briefer time commitments during the school year.

Externships allow nursing students to practice their skills as they learn from seasoned nurses and medical professionals, gaining meaningful nursing experience.

A nursing assistant, on the other hand, is another hospital-based job. Nursing assistants are also referred to as care partners, care or nurse techs, or nurse’s aids. 

This position doesn’t require a nursing degree or license, but you must be able to perform the fundamental nursing skills without supervision. This includes vital signs, catheterization, bed baths, and mobility assistance.

If these options are available and feasible for your schedule, great! But if you’re looking for opportunities when school isn’t in session or something more outside the box, non-traditional nursing jobs are an amazing way to build your resume. 

The Best Jobs for Nursing Students to boost their skills 

Non-traditional jobs for future or present student nurses are a way to gain experience, get your foot in the door of an organization, and discover if a field of medicine is right for you. The following is a list of potential jobs for nursing students, how to find them, and examples of the nursing skills to list on your resume.

Camp counselor 

tent under the stars

Description: Camping with kids in the summer heat? You heard that right! A camp counselor position requires a set of skills and qualities most nursing students have. Camps that cater to the needs of kids with diabetes, developmental delays, grief, or kidney disease can be a worthwhile employment option for the summer as these camps require leaders who are educated in both the physical and psychosocial needs of campers.

Job example: At a camp with kids with diabetes, you may perform tasks such as blood glucose checks, vital signs, monitoring dietary intake, and insulin administration. You’ll have a greater responsibility than a traditional camp counselor position.

To find this position, you’d navigate to the American Diabetes Association website and search for their camp locations. Here, you can send your information to the main contact personnel at a camp as well as a list of your qualifications and relevant skills.

Where to search: Explore foundation websites for the medical condition you’re interested in. You can also find information in parenting magazines and websites with information on local camps.

How to search: Search keywords such as “camp counselor”, “camp volunteer”, or “camp medic”. Other jobs at a camp may be an internship, medical assistant, or camp nurse assistant. Email the camp leader and ask if there’s any need for someone with your skillset. 

What to consider: Don’t feel qualified? Ask if they provide training specific to the type of camp. Other counselors may not have a healthcare background, giving you an advantage, but you should think about if the position is volunteer-based. No matter if it’s paid or unpaid, the experience you gain will be priceless.

Skills: Other than listing all your skills on your resume, write what tasks you performed and what aspects of the job were relevant to healthcare. Use the following example as a guide.

Resume example: 

May – August 2023 Camp Counselor, Camp ACDC

  • Led a cabin for 12 girls diagnosed with diabetes
  • Performed glucose checks on campers
  • Titatred doses of insulin based on specific protocols 
  • Counted carbohydrate content for each meal
  • Triaged girls who felt ill at the camp

Healthcare non-profit internship

girl at desk

Description: For this one, let’s use Morgan’s experience as an example to show how an internship is truly what you make of it. At first, the internship description included answering the phone, sending gas cards to qualifying dialysis patients, and helping set up and tear down events. 

Job example: Morgan was able to advocate for more responsibility. As a result, she performed over 100 blood pressure screenings, collected urine samples and tested for elevated creatinine, created educational materials on kidney disease, shadowed a dialysis nurse, and networked with a nephrology provider who wrote her a letter of recommendation.

Where to search: Mostly, you can find these opportunities through word of mouth or a web search of healthcare organizations you’re interested in, You can also look for postings on social media or job boards.

How to search: Google healthcare non-profits or charities with your city’s name to find a list of foundations within your area. If possible, find the supervisor’s email address to see if they have any openings.

What to consider: Think about if this position is paid or unpaid, your roles and responsibilities, opportunities, if you’ll practice technical nursing skills, if travel is involved and if you’re required to provide your own transportation, seasonality, and if it is an office-based or community-based position. 

Ambulatory clinic assistant

nurse

Description: This nursing job may be more traditional than others, but it is a great way to learn about multiple disciplines and network with medical professionals. Even if you have yet to master the fundamentals of nursing, there are multiple ways to contribute to the clinical setting regardless of your level of schooling. 

Job example: Have your pick of specialty clinics! You can choose from:

  • Fertility clinics
  • Pediatric
  • Outpatient surgery
  • Dermatology clinics
  • OBGYN

Where to search: Start with a hospital system near you or where you currently do your clinical rotation. You can also search for contact information for the clinical leader or use the hospital system’s job board.

What to consider: Some positions may require certification. You can earn a medical certification through programs such as the Red Cross, but you may be able to practice without certifications while working under an RN or LPN’s supervision as well.

Skills: At a clinic, you’ll learn the following procedures:

  • Clinic functions and roles workflow
  • Duties of clinical nurse
  • Nursing skills under the supervision of a nurse
  • Observe specific procedures 
  • Room patients
  • HIPAA compliance
  • Practice advocating for patient
  • Continuing education opportunities

Caregiving

ADPIE mnemonic

Description: Being a caregiver requires a high level of skill and commitment. You’ll provide intimate, life-preserving care including support with daily living activities and medication management.

Example: You may work with people recovering from a traumatic injury, individuals with special medical needs or developmental delays, or perform infant to geriatric care.

Where to search: Start with a caregiving agency, search on Care.com, or explore local Facebook groups. You can also ask your nursing school for any recommendations.

How to search: When on Facebook, search by your city’s name and the keyword “caregivers”. On Care.com, you can always search for jobs within a comfortable mile radius and specify the client population you want to work with. 

What to consider: As a caregiver, you can set your desired rate and have flexible hours. You should highlight specific skills learned in nursing school, but don’t list all your classes or ones that aren’t relevant to the role.

Skills: You’ll most likely gain experience by performing the following tasks.

  • Medication administration 
  • Bathing, toileting, and feeding 
  • Medication preparation/polypharmacy
  • Vital signs and increasing assessment skills
  • Mobility safety and body mechanics 
  • Communicating with the client and their family
  • Listening in on doctor’s appointments
  • Possible GI management and experience with rehab equipment
  • Lines, drains, and wound care

Resume example:

January 2023 – present Caregiver

  • Provided 1:1 for 72-year-old client
  • Assisted with activities of daily living
  • Managed client’s medication
  • Performed blood glucose checks via finger prick twice daily
  • Managed client’s feeding tube
  • Performed wound care on a sacral wound until healed

Medical scribe

laptop on a desk

Description: You don’t have to be licensed to be a scribe. This position could be a good fit if you haven’t mastered your technical skills quite yet. You will follow the provider from patient to patient while taking notes, thus creating an electronic health record (EHR).

Where to search: Look on a hospital’s job board, ask nursing professors, shadow a scribe, and reach out to other departments at your school.

How to search: Use Scribe America to search for positions based on location.

Skills: As a result, you’ll be better versed in medical diction and terminology and get your foot in the door by networking with interdisciplinary departments.

Student research assistant

student studying with coffee in their hand

Description: Job duties vary depending on the research study. Oftentimes, principal investigators need recruiters to consent people to studies. This is typically a short-term commitment, and you should search for opportunities in a field you’re interested in.

Where to search: Find university hospital job boards and ask professors at your school if they need help with any research projects.

How to search: Search for “student research worker”, “unlicensed research assistant”, and
“student research assistant”.

Non-traditional Jobs for Licensed Nurses

Who says you have to take a traditional job as a licensed nurse? Consider these options when you gain your licensure. 

  • Research nurse
  • Case manager
  • Nurse educator (hospital)
  • Nursing informatics (required master’s degree)
  • Utilization review nurse
  • Nurse health coach
  • Forensic nurse
  • Health screening nurse for life insurance companies
  • Legal nurse consultant
  • Wound care nurse
  • Home health nurse
  • School nurse
  • Amusement park nurse
  • Cruise ship nurse
  • NCLEX nursing instructor

No matter what path you choose, your future as a nurse is bound to be bright. Now, let the job search begin!

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