Community Service and Your Nursing Career


Published: 04 December 2019

As nurses, when we think about our careers, we often think of the various positions we’ve held, the facilities or organisations that have employed us, and other aspects of our professional lives.

But do we also think of our nursing career in relation to how we can give back to our communities while also building our personal/professional brand?

Community Service and Your Resume

While a nursing resume should always communicate your professional experience, skills, educational background and accomplishments, another important resume section pertains to community service and/or volunteerism.

Highlighting work you’ve done in your community doesn't necessarily make or break your resume or increase your chances of getting an interview and possibly being hired. However, if you’re in the healthcare job market, you should definitely be considering how you might differentiate yourself from the competition, and community service is one way to round out the ‘story’ your resume tells about your core values and how you show up in the world.

Food bank queue | Image

If, for instance, you find yourself applying for a nursing position in a clinic that provides care for marginalised populations, a mention on your resume of several years of volunteerism at the local homeless shelter might pique the interest of a nurse hiring manager.

Community service emphasises your humanity and illustrates the ways in which you utilise your skills as a nurse - and other non-medical skills, as well - in the interest of the welfare of others.

Demonstrating your compassionate nature through volunteerism could be a factor that makes you just that more appealing than the next applicant.

Volunteerism, Skill Development and Opportunity

Depending on the volunteer position that you choose to pursue, there may be new skills that you develop along the way, some of which may be helpful at any point in your career.

Let’s say you volunteer at a city homeless shelter that relies on both donations from the community and grant money from foundations and charitable organisations. When the time comes for a particular grant to be renewed, you sign up as a member of the fundraising/grant-writing committee at the shelter.

Through this experience, you learn a great deal about fundraising and feel very grateful for the opportunity to gain knowledge of things that are a far cry from what you learned during your nursing studies.

Several years later, you apply for a position as the executive director of a medical clinic for at-risk individuals in need of low-cost or free medical care. When you interview with the clinic’s board of directors, you realise that, while they’re certainly interested in your clinical skills, they’re even more thrilled that you’ve written several successful grants.

In the end, that very skill is the one that makes you stand out among the crowd of applicants for the position, and you’re hired largely due to what you know from time spent at the shelter.

Community service also looks good on an application for a university degree program, since the school may be seeking applicants who have a sense of compassion for those less fortunate.

Both hiring managers for clinical nursing positions and university admissions teams may look favourably upon the ways in which you’ve given back to your fellow citizens.

They may also look positively upon your memberships in various nursing or medical associations, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt your personal brand if you’ve occupied a leadership position in several of those organisations.

Volunteerism highlights your giving nature and desire to help others.

Who doesn’t want those qualities in a nurse?

People planting trees | Image

Volunteering Feels Good

In the end, volunteering and giving back to society simply feels good.

Being a nursing professional in itself shows your giving nature, but going above and beyond to serve others outside of the workplace says even more about who you are as a person.

Service to others is what often drives us to want to become nurses.

Consider how you can weave volunteerism into your life in order to feel personally fulfilled and bolster the case that you’re a valuable nursing professional and citizen worthy of respect, gainful employment and a long and happy career.


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Keith Carlson View profile
Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, is a holistic career coach for nurses, award-winning nurse blogger, writer, podcaster, speaker, author, and popular career columnist. With two decades of nursing experience, Keith deeply understands the issues faced by 21st-century nurses. Keith’s two podcasts, RNFM Radio and The Nurse Keith Show, offer inspiration and practical support to nurses seeking to create meaningful, satisfying lives and careers. Keith’s message of savvy career management and professional satisfaction reaches tens of thousands of nurses worldwide. Keith can be found on many social media platforms---including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Instagram - as well as at and Digital Doorway.