It has been a very busy semester to say the least. Not necessarily in terms of academic workload, but more with preparing for 5th semester (residency) and job searching.

I decided to submit an abstract for a project I have been working on to the ACNL 2018 Innovations Conference and was accepted! I also submitted my top 5 choices for residency and will update you in May with my placement! I also have been putting together my portfolio, preparing my resume/cover letter, and preparing to apply to externships.

As always, I will be doing a breakdown of 4th semester and all my tips/tricks/mistakes. However, there were a couple important things I wish I knew that I think you should know now.


I have been putting together an online and hard copy portfolio to have ready for interviews when it is time. It is important to not rush this and embed your personality into this. I love that APU has a class solely focused on preparing you for becoming an RN (586 Leadership).

However, I wish I had thought about this sooner. Why? I have been having to go through all my old work (luckily I save it all) so I can add my best work. I also had to go scavenging for pictures because they are saved in so many random places.

Here is what I recommend to ease the process:

1. Save a “Portfolio Work” file.

Make a copy of any presentations, projects, and/or presentations that you think you might want to add to your portfolio and save it in this file. This will make it so much easier to go through later and select your best work.

2. Save a “Portfolio Pictures”file.

Takes pictures at any school, nursing, clinical, volunteer event, etc. and save them here! Luckily, I love having pictures to record the moment, but some classmates did not! Like the saying goes… a picture is worth a thousand words… and it makes you portfolio more personal! Even though, I have pictures I had to spend more time than I would have liked tracking them down to ass to my portfolio.

I will post a link to my portfolio once it is finished for you all to use as an example!

Poster Presentations

I would have never thought that as a student I would be considered to present at a conference. How wrong I was! APU has a research symposium every March that accepts student submissions. Several nursing conferences also do so when you hear about a nursing conference don’t hesitate to submit your abstract! APU students take Research and Scientific Writing. Both of the final projects in this class can be submitted to present at conferences!

I recommend printing out some brochures/flyers to give out with a little summary of your project and your contact information. You might meet the person who will be hiring you!

Also, this is a great addition to your resume/CV/portfolio! Don’t be afraid to hang with the big dogs for a little 😉

Poster Resources:

1. Powerpoint

Find out the poster dimensions (different sizes for each conference) and use powerpoint to “build” it. You can go to the page setup to make the “slide” the size of your “poster”. This way everything will be proportional to your poster needs. This powerpoint posted by the ACNL Innovations Conference was very helpful in guiding my poster making process!

2. Office Depot

Once your powerpoint slide of your poster is complete, save that slide as a PDF. You can use this to submit it to the company you want to make your poster. I research the San Diego area and decided on Office Depot. I prefer to support local businesses, but Office Depot was cheaper than most business AND they delivered for free!

Clinical Journal

APU requires that you keep a journal for most of your clinical rotations, which is nice. Make sure you save or have access to these because they are absolutely invaluable in preparing for interviews! Almost all the questions will be a clinical question (ex: “Tell me a time when a patient…” or “Tell me a time when another nurse…”). I will dedicate a post solely to resumes, cover letters, and interview questions once I am applying to hospitals so you can all see what worked well (or didn’t) and add it to your repertoire.

In the mean time, save these in a file. During residency (externship if you do one), make sure to keep a clinical journal (although is is not required) because this is where you will get the most experience to talk about in your interviews!