How much volunteer work should a nurse list on a resume?

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Career Advice MailboxDear Donna,

Should I list volunteer work on my resume, and if so, how and where? I have been volunteering since I was in high school. How far back should I go?

Dear Wondering About Volunteer Work on a Resume,

Certain volunteer work can enhance your resume and showcase some additional skills and attributes. If you have done a lot of volunteer work, as many nurses have, it may not be necessary or practical to list it all. If you are a new nurse who went directly to nursing school from high school, then your high school volunteer activities might be relevant because they are more recent and you don’t have a body of work experience yet to show.

If you have been out of nursing school for a while, unless you did something extremely relevant or out of the ordinary in high school for volunteer work, I would not go back that far.

Overall, be selective with what you choose to include. Make sure to include past and present activities that demonstrate leadership and other important and relevant skills and experiences, as well as civic involvement. Be sure to include all healthcare-related volunteer experience and work with youth groups, the elderly, the homeless, etc. Be cautious when listing work with organizations that would reveal religious or political affiliations. Aside from being personal and protected, this type of information can work against you.

You can use a separate heading on your resume such as “Volunteer/Community” to list these activities. This heading should go toward the end of your resume after more important headings such as Education, Licenses/Certifications and Professional Affiliations.

Best wishes,

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