A nursing career allows individuals to help patients in a nurturing environment, and to find their existential fulfillment. As a result, many learners decide to pursue a career in the field, and you are one of these individuals!
Eager to receive an acceptance letter? You know that you’ll need to submit the application material in a timely fashion, and part of that process involves crafting a stellar personal statement for nursing school.
According to a report by CNN, many applicants are rejected from nursing schools, unfortunately. Even when you feel that you have solid writing skills, you must hone these talents and gear them specifically toward that nursing school personal statement.
After all, you are looking to boost your chances of acceptance. Following a process and learning key pointers about this essay will help you to succeed.
Don’t simply sit down at the computer and start clicking away on the keyboard. Crafting a compelling personal statement for your target nursing school involves a significant amount of preparatory work. As seasoned writers know, the art of writing is a process.
Step 1: Research the Schools
Each school is going to have its unique requirements, and you want to know what those requirements are. Researching different programs serves multiple purposes. For example, you can start to rank the programs in order of your preference. Secondly, you get to determine what schools are reach schools and which institutions are your safety schools.
This process will also help you to get a sense of how competitive your personal statement should be. The best According to a ranking of 2023 Best Colleges for Nursing in America, the University of Pennsylvania, Emory University, and Duke University are listed as the top three.
If you’re applying to one of those institutions, you should go through your personal statement with a fine-tooth comb!
Step 2: Write Freely
At some point in your educational career, you’ve likely been asked to write freely about a topic. As you start seeing the prompts from different nursing programs, feel free to type your ideas, preferably, in a word-processing program on your computer.
You could challenge yourself to address one or more of the following prompts:
- What was your reason for choosing nursing as a career? Do you have any additional information that you would like the admissions committee to know about you that has not been previously considered in the application? (2000 characters)
- Discuss your interest and understanding of the clinical nurse leader role. What experiences have contributed to your interest? (2000 characters)
- The goal of the Doctor of Nursing Program is to prepare nurse leaders at the highest level of nursing practice to improve patient outcomes and translate research into practice. Describe experiences that exhibit your leadership skills. (2000 characters)
- Discuss the clinical specialty area you are interested in pursuing. What experiences have contributed to your interest? (2000 characters)
- Discuss a population of interest in your work setting. What experiences have you had with this population? What health care needs do you see in this target group? (2000 characters)
Check out more nursing school personal statement questions.
While the schools to which you are applying might not ask the exact questions, you have at least started to get your creativity flowing in terms of what you might write.
Step 3: Talk to an Admissions Counselor
As you’re narrowing down your choice of nursing schools, consider scheduling an appointment with an admissions counselor. Aim to schedule an on-campus appointment if possible as this gives you a real feel of the school environment. Where it is impossible to get one, as with the current Covid-19 pandemic, consider a virtual or telephone appointment.
An admissions counselor will provide you with guidance that is specific to their nursing school’s acceptable personal statement. In other words, different schools have varying expectations. While the admissions counselor may not answer all your questions, you still have a chance to receive valuable insight.
Step 4: Review Genre Conventions
Whether you applying at the undergraduate level or graduate level, you are already familiar with certain genre conventions. What you must recognize is that a personal statement can be quite different from other academic pieces that you have done. Penn State offers some great pointers on elements that characterize a personal statement.
For example, you might think that a personal statement needs to follow a five-paragraph format with a thesis statement as the last sentence of the introduction. While some personal statements take on this format, others employ a more reflective structure.
Step 5: Thoroughly Check Requirements
You want to make sure you know exactly how many nursing school personal statements you have to write for your application and what the requirements are for each one. Take an example from medical school. When students apply to medical school, they typically have to write one larger essay followed by several shorter ones.
Knowing the expectations of the specific programs to which you are applying can help you budget your time appropriately. Pay close attention to deadlines as well. Submitting an application after the posted deadline is a sure way to seriously lower your odds of getting admitted.
The Writing Process
Once you have completed the research phase and gathered preliminary information, you may think that you’re ready to craft the final version of your essay. However, writing is an intricate process. Allowing yourself adequate time to go through this process will heighten your chances of drafting a captivating essay.
Step 1: Print or Write down the Prompt
You must adhere to the prompt. Period. Keep in mind how crucial it is to follow protocols in the field of nursing. If you cannot follow the guidelines for a nursing school personal statement, the admissions committee may doubt your abilities in the field.
Printing out the prompt or jotting it down is quite useful because you can visually assess if you have checked off all of the requirements. Pay attention to how the prompt is worded. Further, note any length requirements; you may have to write at least a certain number of words or ensure that your essay does not exceed a specified number of characters.
When essays have character limits, make sure to find out if the character limit includes or excludes spaces. As you go through the writing process, you can check off each requirement on the prompt.
Step 2: Use a Brainstorming Strategy
I am confident you have great brainstorming techniques up your sleeves. If not, The Writing Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers some very handy brainstorming techniques that you could use.
Try to resist the urge to skip right ahead to the full first draft. Brainstorming allows you to get your ideas out. For example, you might look at the prompt and make a list of whatever ideas comes to your mind. You don’t need to worry about organizing them or fully developing the content yet. You could also craft a formal outline as you brainstorm ideas. See which strategy works best for you.
Some writers like to use the actual writing out of sentences as a brainstorming technique. With this approach, you could just write or type whatever ideas come to mind. Setting a timer for this activity is useful. Then, you can go back in to shape your ideas.
Step 3: Craft the First Draft
Writing can be intimidating. You might feel as though you are totally committing to whatever words you put on paper. But the drafting process helps to overcome this anxiety. Sitting down to write the first draft means that you know you will make changes. As a result, you do not feel as pressured.
For some, writing is an enjoyable process; for others, just the thought alone is enough stress and a nuisance. If you fall into the latter group, budget your time. You could allocate an hour each day for a week to put together the first draft. This strategy works even when you love writing.
Step 4: Start with What You Know
Many writers become so concerned with the first sentence of their introduction that they end up losing valuable ideas for the rest of the essay. For example, imagine that you have four main ideas that you would like to explore in your nursing school personal statement. Your natural inclination might be to write about the experience that happened earliest chronologically before you tackle the others.
Consider the fact that you might feel more comfortable writing about the second or third chronological experience instead. Start with those paragraphs. You can then build the essay around them. Getting started is often the most difficult part of a writing project, so starting with what you know can help to inspire the rest of the piece.
Step 5: Prioritize Higher-Order Issues
In writing, topics such as organization, addressing the prompt, and developing ideas are often considered more important than issues like grammar and spelling. Of course, you want to present polished grammar and proper sentence structure in your nursing personal statement, but these issues are less important in your first draft.
When you are creating your first draft, pay attention to the content. Work to get the paragraphs into reasonable order, and aim to develop your ideas as much as you can. You will worry about the grammar, sentence structure, and proofreading issues when you go to revise.
Step 6: Put the Essay Aside
As mentioned earlier, planning your time is vital when it comes to the writing process. Therefore, as unorthodox as it may sound, you need to disconnect yourself from the work for quite some time before reviewing. Putting your work away for at least a day is a smart move. By doing so, you have the proper amount of time to really assess the changes that you want to make.
It’s tempting to immediately go into your paper to revise after writing the first draft, and this urge is particularly strong when the deadline is soon. You might miss important information though. Waiting allows you to recall more important details that you want to be included in the essay. Taking a break from your personal statement allows you that necessary mental space to potentially come up with fresh ideas.
Removing yourself from the project for some time also helps with editing. When you are first writing, you may include some unnecessary details about events related to nursing or your reasons for becoming a nurse. These details may be important to you, but they might not be important for your essay. Putting your work aside for some time will help you gain that perspective.
Besides, picking up on proofreading and editing errors is difficult when you have just written the paper. Your mind is likely to read the work as though it is correct because you just wrote it and you know what the text is supposed to say.
When you come back to read the text later, you are likely to catch these mistakes. For some, printing out the essay and editing it by hand seems to work great. Make sure to read the text out loud to catch errors. In other words, you may hear issues more readily than you see them.
Step 7: Visit a Writing Center
If available to you, a writing center is extremely valuable. Ben Rafoth in Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing explains why writing centers are so valuable. The main idea here is that you get the chance to review the work with a tutor. Having the insight of a professional or a peer on your work is crucial.
Writing centers function in a variety of ways. Some tutors may require students to read their papers aloud while others might make markings on the student’s paper. If you are already a student at a college, you likely have access to a writing center right on campus.
If you do not, ask a few people to read over and review your essay (me shamelessly plugging in our services page here 🤦). Sharing your work with others might feel frightening, but keep in mind that an outside reader can offer you important insights.
Step 8: Revise and Revise Some More
One round of revisions is typically not enough for an important piece of writing. You want to make sure that your personal statement for your target nursing school is as polished as it gets. Now you will have to decide how many times is enough revision.
But as a rule of thumb, aim for at least 3 rounds of revisions. As you go through each essay each round, you will likely notice grammar and sentence-level issues that need fixing. At some point, however, you will feel confident with your paper. Then, you are ready to submit the document.
Topics and Approaches to Consider
In addition to allowing your writing to develop over time, you also need to make sure you are selecting appropriate content. But remember, you must always strive to address the specific prompt from your target nursing program. Consider the following clever tips to make your writing shine:
Tip 1: Start with an Anecdote
You want to grab the attention of your readers at the beginning of your nursing school personal statement. Beginning with an authentic anecdote is one way to do so. For example, you might bring in a specific experience that encouraged you to want to become a nurse or a situation that had a profound influence on your life.
Remember the importance of authenticity when taking this approach. You might feel like you need to manipulate the experience to make it sound more dramatic than it was. However, bear in mind that a commitment to honesty is imperative to your nursing goals.
As a word of caution, the admissions team has quite possibly read numerous nursing personal statements in the past, which means they can sniff out your inauthenticity from a mile away! You do not want that, now do you?
Tip 2: Talk about Yourself
Many students fall into the trap of talking about other people more than they discuss themselves. You might have a profound story about how a medical situation with one of your grandparents inspired you to become a nurse, or you might want to share details about an internship that you had with a particular nurse.
What you do not want to do is end up writing more about your grandparent or the nurse with whom you worked than you do about yourself.
While these individuals may very well have played a crucial role in your decision to pursue a nursing career, they are not the ones applying to a nursing school. You are essentially trying to sell yourself to the admissions committee. Talk about how these experiences shaped you and what you learned from the situations. Keep the focus on yourself.
Tip 3: Discuss the Target School
Chances are that you are applying to multiple nursing programs. If you are thinking of applying to only one program, casting your net wider is definitely wiser. After all, you don’t know for certain that you will gain admittance into your program of choice. When you apply to different schools, you should tailor the personal statement to each institution.
It’s quite possible that each school will ask you a similar question or that the prompts will resemble each other. While you might be compelled to do a one-size-fits-all personal statement for each of the nursing schools, that would be a sure recipe to get a rejection letter. The writing will sound as though it has been repurposed.
The admissions committee wants to see why you are a good fit for that specific school, not simply nursing schools in general. Now, of course, you can potentially use the same base. For example, you might want to share the same volunteer experiences or internship experiences with each school. However, you should have a section that is thoughtfully tailored to the individual school.
Incorporate specific details about the school that show why you want to go there. You could highlight particular classes that interest you or discuss a few of your role models who are that school’s alumni- basically, anything that, without a doubt, demonstrates that your essay is intended for the specific school.
Take a look at the following excerpt from an actual personal statement. While it is not for a nursing application, it should elaborate on the point.
“RIT is an excellent choice for me because it has successfully carved out a reputation for itself as a leading technology university. The availability of top-notch facilities, like the Simone Center for Student Innovation and RIT Venture creations Incubator, continue to set the university apart from its peers. As a result, the university sports a vibrant entrepreneurial culture that is leveraged on technology to inspire learners to identify problems that require innovative solutions. Importantly, I believe the MS TIME program will enable me to experience entrepreneurship in a reimagined way, like never before.”
Tip 4: Know What to Avoid
You already know that you should avoid manipulating personal stories and writing generic essays. You should also avoid begging for admission into the school. Further, avoid integrating clichés into your writing. Instead, look for personal ways to convey your ideas instead of simply regurgitating.
Avoid plagiarism as it can affect you professionally. Running your work through a plagiarism checker will weed out accidental plagiarism. When you read samples, you absolutely must not copy them.
Nursing School Personal Statement Examples
How about we examine (and comment on) some excerpts from samples of personal statements- to give you a general idea and hopefully get you started. Ready? Let’s go!
“Nursing is a very versatile field and the subjects I am currently studying have many links with adult nursing. Studying psychology has made me aware that the mental health of a patient is just as important as their physical well-being. I have learnt that the brain and the body are never in harmony, which can explain why we are such a diverse species in the way we act, or the beliefs we hold…”
– Read the rest here
Commentary: The student does a splendid job of connecting his educational experience to the nursing field. He might want to watch for absolutes, such as the word “never.” But as long as you can back up your assertion, you are free to say what’s on your mind. The student should, however, break down this wall of text into two separate paragraphs, for readability purposes.
“After a series of illnesses and injuries during my early childhood, I was introduced to the role and care of Nurses. It was from here I became fascinated and realised this could be a satisfying future outlet for my empathetic self. I feel that nurses are truly inspirational professionals. They provide an inestimable service to society whilst working in a highly demanding and very challenging career, assisting individuals and their families through difficult times when they are at their most vulnerable. I feel I am ready to embark on this career and start to fulfill this ambition of mine to become a children’s nurse.
I believe nursing is a career in which I will excel because of my compassion for those who are at their most vulnerable. My ability to empathise with individuals would provide a positive nurse and patient relationship, putting the child and family at ease, allowing the family to approach me for support and guidance and therefore meet specific needs of the child and their family. Self-confidence is something I consider to be highly important within a nursing career. Having self-belief when working under pressure and in stressful situations is crucial when ensuring high quality care is delivered. Nursing can be a stressful career where traumatic situations are common…”
– Read the rest here
Commentary: This is an excellent example of how to start a personal statement for nursing school, and transition effortlessly from the introductory paragraph to the next. The student here clearly connects her experiences as a child to her desire to be a children’s nurse. And just from reading this sample, you feel she is well qualified for admission!
“I want to be a nurse to do something worthwhile with my career, I don’t want to waste my days working behind a computer, I want to be a nurse to utilise all of the best parts of my character…”
– Read the rest here
Commentary: What’s useful here is that the student speaks with confidence. He seems to have a pretty clear direction from the start. However, the writing does contain comma splices, which is a grammar mistake. While the word “something” is vague, it wouldn’t be if the student elaborated on the same paragraph or the next one.
Also, the student here could better consider the audience. In this case, the audience might consist of admission committee members who work on a computer all day, and they might feel a little offended from reading the first line. Even if their personal feelings aren’t supposed to come into play when assessing the essay, the readers are likely not going into the rest of the essay brimming with enthusiasm.
In addition, the student should consider improving the opening line by focusing more on his specific goals and by eliminating information that could potentially alienate the audience.
“My motivation towards nursing did not emanate from anywhere. I relate it to the experiences that I have had since I was young. As I reflect on my life back, I remember that I grew in a family where my father and mother were nurses in the nearby hospital. I witnessed the care and love they extended to the infirm, some of who came to the hospital in dire conditions. As we lived in the staff quarters, I got a chance to sneak to my father’s office and saw how he handled the patients of different ages. I was encouraged to see him listen and take the history of every patient, something that enabled him to make an accurate treatment decision. since then, I wanted to extend the good works that I witnessed with my immediate parents…”
– Read the rest here
Commentary: This student does not have very advanced writing skills, which is why you can see her commit some grammar mistakes. For example, she ought to write “sneak into” instead of “sneak to”. However, she does a great job demonstrating how her past has led her to want to pursue a career in nursing. Do not be afraid to tell such a story on your nursing school personal statement. Just don’t dwell too much on it. And ensure the story is legit.
Writing a personal statement might seem like an overwhelming endeavor. After all, you do have to take several steps before you are ready to submit a polished essay and hopefully get accepted into your program of choice.
Keep in mind that your efforts will be worth it. Obviously, other aspects of your application come into play- Factors such as your GPA, recommendation letter, etc.
However, it is on your nursing school personal statement that you have the chance to really craft your story how you deem fit and showcase yourself in the best possible light. By putting the necessary time and effort into it, you could find yourself studying to become a nurse when the next semester begins.
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