How to Write a Personal Statement for Nursing School
Whether you are looking forward to advancing your nursing career or you are just getting started to look into nursing as a study path for your higher education, one of the most important things you will have to do is to write a compelling personal statement to the admissions committee to convince them why you have what it takes to be accepted into that nursing program you have been dreaming about and whether you have what it takes. Based on what you write, you will either be accepted or not.
Sounds daunting? It does not have to be.
This article breaks down for you what a nursing school personal statement is, what essential information you should include in the personal statement, tips for writing a solid personal statement, errors to watch out for, tips for writing and editing your statement among other useful information that will have you feeling confident about sending out that personal statement with your application to your school of choice.
But first things first,
What is A Nursing Personal Statement?
When you are applying for a nursing program in a nursing school, there is a section of the application process that requires you to write an essay that gives a detailed account of who you are, what you are passionate about, why you want to study nursing, what experience you have (if any), your skills and achievements. In short, you are writing a detailed account of who you are, what you have done, the skills that you have, what you like, and why you want to get into nursing school. This is what is known as a nursing personal statement.
This statement gives the selection panel a chance to get an in-depth look at you on a personal level.
Most of the statements you will encounter will have the same format. In other special circumstances, a particular university or institution will offer its own preferred set of guidelines. Regardless of the criteria, take the writing of your statement seriously. Learn how to structure your content and organize your flow of thoughts and ideas.
What is the Importance of a Nursing Personal Statement?
Writing your own nursing personal statement is important because
- It highlights your personality, achievements, and experiences on a personal level that gives a deeper understanding to the selection panel of who you are as a person.
- It gives the admission committee the opportunity to find the best fit and candidates who share the values of the institution and the nursing courses offered.
- It gives the selection panel a basis for some of the interview questions and topics should you make it to the interview stage.
- Some universities will use it as a tie-breaker between candidates who have the same scores. a student with the best statement among the two gets to be selected.
- It is used as a gauge for the level of motivation for candidates on their journey to become a nurse.
What Should be included in the nursing personal statements
Although different nursing schools or universities may have a different set of requirements depending on their selection criteria and guidelines, many of the personal statements will follow a common set of guidelines. But even though the guideline might be standard, the content should be unique and tailored to you.
When writing your personal statement the following key basic components should be included in your content to give it authority. They are
Your Education Background
This sector offers you a chance to elaborate on any relevant education you might have acquired throughout your life that might help demonstrate your suitability in the nursing career. These might include
- Attending CPR classes where you were awarded a certificate of participation
- Taking an advanced class in biology will show your curiosity and urge for continual learning, specifically to
- Taking first aid classes demonstrates the skill of empathy and compassion which are valuable in nursing.
- If you conducted research on a topic like why there is a vaccination gap in developing countries, talk about it in this segment and go ahead and explain some of the important discoveries you made in your finding. This is a great way not only to show the panel your eagerness to learn and advance your knowledge, but also a motivation towards your journey to nursing.
If you had the opportunity to work in caregiving or a health care institution, you should definitely include this in your personal statement.
However, if you have previous work experience in any industry, include that too and show some of the important skills that you learned while on the job. Remember to use specific examples and instances from your work to demonstrate the abilities you acquired.
Your employer can be a great referee and can write a letter of recommendation for you. They are also the right individual in the capacity of going through your first draft while offering advice and mentorship opportunity.
Though this is not a requirement for admission, it goes a long way in boosting your chances of acceptance because it reflects the kind of qualities necessary in the nursing field. For example, while working with the youth, you will demonstrate that your patience and listening skills were polished and greatly nurtured.
The following are other examples of volunteer work and the corresponding skills you might have acquired.
- Volunteering in a homeless shelter demonstrates empathy and compassion.
- Being a social worker in an elderly care facility proves your ability to be patient.
- Volunteering in an animal shelter shows you are a caring individual.
- Participating in youth mentorship programs demonstrates leadership and interpersonal skills.
- Volunteer work at a hospital can demonstrate that you had a first-hand look into what goes on in nursing practice and the challenges that come with it.
Through volunteer work, you can also get a letter of recommendation from your supervisors who will be able to demonstrate to the admitting committee the skills and experiences that you acquired. This will go a long way in stamping authority to your personality thus your chances of getting accepted
When coming up with skills that you have had a chance to experience, make sure to tie them up with how they will relate to your career in the nursing sector. Some of the relevant skills acquired during the course of either your volunteer work or work experience are
- Leadership skills. This is demonstrated by the ability to offer guidance and direction to a team you are working with. for example as a scout.
- Empathy. This is the ability to be understanding. You can list this as one of the things you learned while working at an animal shelter.
- Interpersonal skills. This is practiced through interaction with people in a shared space.
- Communication and teamwork skills. Sharpened by working with a diverse group of people in your previous job or volunteering
- Critical thinking. Demonstrate this by showing how you rose to particular challenges that you faced at work.
- Organizational skills. Explain how through your great organizational abilities were able to save your company time on some of the projects.
Unique Attributes That Set You Apart
What is it about you that makes you stand out? What is it about the personality that will make you uniquely qualified to be a nurse? If you love working with kids and have had the opportunity of working with kids before, this is the kind of unique story that would make you a good fit for the application of a course in pediatric nursing.
Your story does not have to be conventional either. You perhaps never envisioned a career in nursing but a set of life experiences got you away from your accounting job to a path towards nursing. This is an example of how unique and versatile your experience could be. Communicate to the panel the set of life experiences that have set you on a different trajectory and the varied abilities and expertise that you are bringing with you from that seemingly unconventional field.
This communicates your personality and highlights the story that is unique to you and your journey.
If you have that personal story that motivated your journey toward the pursuit of a nursing career, this is the part you let that shine.
For example, were you a caregiver to a sick relative? Were you hospitalized at some point and seeing the nursing performing their duties was the motivation for that? Is one of your parents a nurse and how does their life inspire you? If yes, write them down here. This is an excellent way to set your application apart from the rest and it also gives you a personal and emotional connection of your passion toward the nursing career.
How to Write a Nursing Personal statement.
Conduct your research
Get in-depth knowledge of the type of program you are applying for. It is important that you are able to demonstrate your understanding of the field you are applying to. There are various programs offered in nursing school so taking time to go through each of these individual programs will give you a better understanding of what each course has to offer in line with your goals, motivation, and abilities,
For most applications, the institutions will expect you to apply for a specific program.
For you to be considered, you will have to explain based on your research why you are a good fit for that program. For example, if it is your wish as a student to apply for mental health nursing, you are expected to demonstrate resilience, advocacy for people, listening skills, communication skills, and the ability to show empathy. You might also choose to reflect on your personal experience- or that of a family member- with mental health and how that was a motivating factor for you choosing mental health nursing as a career path.
Another example is, should you choose to focus on becoming a children’s nurse, you should show genuine interest in that field. You could mention key moments of your interaction with children at a hospital facility that helped shape your decision to become a children’s nurse as opposed to a career in adult nursing. You should also go further and come up with a comprehensive list of the challenges that you expect to face as a nurse in that clinical setting.
Research does not end with the program you are applying for only, it also extends to the university. Mention how their core values are in line with you as an individual and the goals you want to achieve for yourself, the university community, and the health care fraternity.
By demonstrating your in-depth research on the program, the university, the values, the challenges you expect to encounter in your chosen career path, you set yourself apart from the pool of the many applicants by showing you have explored all the possibilities and therefore increasing your chances of getting selected to join the university.
Follow the specific prompt
Pay close attention to details.
Each program has specific rules and guidelines that need to be adhered to. Strictly adhere to what is being asked then follow the instructions step by step. Accuracy in abiding by the rules will help the admissions committee determine whether you have a keen eye for detail
What is your motivation?
You most likely have a list of compelling factors that has driven you to seek a career in the nursing field. This is your chance to give your personal account of those inspirations. Make a list and from that list select your strongest sources of motivation and have them appear in your personal statement
They should all be in line with the particular nursing degree you want to study for. Explain in detail your desire for helping people with specific examples related to health care, the constant seeking of expanding your knowledge for personal growth as well as advancing your career in the nursing sphere.
This is where your personality shines through and puts the person in a personal statement so do not shy away from sharing your brilliance.
Own your story
There is a journey that you have walked that is only unique to you towards your pursuit of nursing education. Share it.
Storytelling is a powerful tool for capturing that journey and capturing the attention of your reader. You might be working two jobs but a certain life-altering moment saw you interact with an er nurse practitioner and since then you have had your focus in the medical field.
Be sure to reference your personal experiences across different sections of the personal statement as it helps the committee make a personal connection with you and sets you apart from other applicants.
Format for Writing A Nursing personal statement
This is the introduction to your personal statement. To make it interesting, make the first sentence of your introduction an anecdote then proceed to explain why you want to be a nurse using a story. this will foster a connection between you and the reader urging them to read on.
To write a powerful introduction that stands out right from the opening line, consider these useful tips
- Link your introduction to your personality.
- Explain what it is about you that has made you interested in pursuing a nursing degree. Use sentences that foster a connection and persuade the reader to expect more in your personal statement body.
- Keep it brief but engaging. This is an introduction to what you will be covering in the main body so do not use too many words that will make the reader lose interest. A good word limit for your introduction should be two to three sentences.
In this section, you will include your educational background, work experience, and certifications if you have any. write about your degrees, work awards, certifications, positions that you have held in your workplace as well as the responsibilities and roles that you played and for how long. If you were awarded any accolades, list them down
Here, mention your skills and talents and how they would relate to the nursing programs that you are applying for. while mentioning your skills, remember the storytelling aspect and use that as you describe them in detail. it is particularly important to list down the relevant skills that will be useful in the health care field.
Explain what qualities about you would make you a good fit for the nursing profession, what you look forward to bringing to the university, the health care field, and the students you will interact with once you get accepted into the program to study to become a nurse.
Demonstrate your eagerness to learn and acquire knowledge in the nursing practice and other activities that you are looking forward to performing to enhance the whole university experience. You can also list some extracurricular activities you are excited to join.
This is the conclusion that ties together all that you have been talking about in the body. Explain your reason and interest in enrolling in that particular course. Use personal life experiences t0 bring out this point clearly.
A powerful conclusion is important because it leaves a strong impression and has the ability to make your personal statement more memorable and appealing. Some additional tips for creating powerful conclusions include
- A specific reference to your professional goals. You can list some short-term goals( goals you intend to achieve during your stay at the university), and your long-term goals ( goals you intend to pursue in your career once you are done with the university program). this demonstrates focus and a clear plan.
- Link to your opening statement. Tie your goals and what you want to bring to the university back to the reason why you wish to be accepted into the university. Show enthusiasm and a yearning for the life experiences that await when you become a nurse.
- Summarise your content. Briefly break down the content of your personal statement by explaining the main points in two or three lines to make a powerful finishing paragraph
Tips for writing a perfect personal statement
It is crucial that your personal statement stand out from various others, here are some of the tips you can implement right from the time you plan to the time you start the writing process and finally to the submission phase
- Plan ahead. It takes several weeks to come up with a personal statement you are happy to submit. so take time and lay down everything that you will need. If you wait until the last minute you will make a lot of avoidable errors.
- Go through the school’s programs, websites, check out what other students are saying for you to determine whether the values and the program are in line with your beliefs, ambitions, and personal values.
- When writing, relax and avoid overthinking. Aim to capture the reader with a natural tone and voice. This will make the writing flow smoothly and not appear forced
- Structure and organize your content. Make sure that your thought process flows smoothly from one idea to the next. Aim to develop your ideas and concepts fully so that the reader has an easy time reading through your work without getting confused. Remember that the panel is going through hundreds of other applications and yours might be disqualified if they catch errors.
- Read sample personal statement examples. This is important in enabling you to get a general idea of how to structure and organize your own personal statement. You must however never copy and paste. Every personal statement is unique to the author who drafted it. The idea is to become comfortable with what you will write on your own.
- Be truthful. Do not exaggerate your story or fabricate lies. The personal statement is only the beginning of your journey towards admission. there will be an interviewing stage where you will be caught if you lied.
- Demonstrate to the committee how advancing your education towards earning a nursing degree in health care will be beneficial towards your nursing goals. Show that you understand the commitment, dedication, and requirements that it takes to become a registered nurse and that you are a valuable candidate for that position because you are willing to fulfill those needs. When demonstrating remember to back up your words with specific examples.
- Work in phases. Right from the planning, researching, writing, editing, and proofreading of your statement, it is important to break down the sections into smaller manageable units. Organizing your workload this way will make it easier to maintain motivation throughout your work. This is also important in keeping your flow of thought easy to follow and to avoid burnout.
- Keep it short and simple. Short words read better than long words. Remember that while you are giving a personal account of your life experiences and personality, you do not need to give your whole life story. It is important to keep it brief and relevant to the topic while also keeping in mind that you have a limited word count.
- Include your hobbies and interests. Life as a nurse or as a student can be quite hectic and demanding. But that should not mean it should consume all your waking hours. So go ahead and list those hobbies and interests that you have outside of work or even some of the activities that you are looking forward to doing outside of your studies when you join the school. If you like to play an instrument, say you are looking forward to joining the music club of your university. The panel reading your statement will be delighted to know that there is more about you.
- Maintain a positive outlook. Show optimism and enthusiasm by using the appropriate tone, choice of words, and examples that paint an optimistic view. Because you would have already done the research of the program and you have an idea of what you are going to study, tell the panel some fascinating topics or units that you are looking forward to expanding your knowledge in. This proves to the panel that you are enthusiastic about the program that you already started reading ahead.
- Use active voice. This is important for maintaining clarity in the content and engaging the reader on a deeper personal level. You do not want to show that things happened to you in passing, put yourself at the center and show how you took charge or handled things. This makes your application captivating to read.
- Polish your writing skills. You might have done the research, have an impressive list of certifications and volunteering programs but do you know how to put all these in a way that makes it easy for your statement to read well? If not, practice ahead well before you start writing your first draft. this will make you comfortable and experienced enough to write your own statement with confidence. your goal is for the panel reading your statement to find it smooth and coherent.
Tips for Editing and Proofreading
Editing and proofreading are just as important as the writing and the content of your personal statements. You want to be sure that what you are communicating comes out just as you intend for it to read- with the right tone, voice, selection of words, and proper use of punctuation. Here are some important tips that will help you in the editing process of your personal statement
- Take a step back. After writing your initial draft, walk away from it for a few days. You will be able to refresh your mind and gain a clear perspective and view that will be much needed in spotting errors when you start the editing process.
- Read it out loud. Go over it word by word. Over and over again. Does it sound like you want it? Is there a better way you could make it sound? Are there too many words? Too few perhaps? These are some of the important questions you should ask yourself as you read and review your work. It enables you to hear your words out loud as if someone else were reading them and gives a fresh perspective and insight that will help you notice mistakes.
- Have someone go over it. A new set of eyes might make all the difference. Someone else might be able to catch on to something that you might have missed because they are not connected with the content on a personal level like you as the writer. So if you have a mentor or an employer or a supervisor who is willing to go over your work and review it, even better for your content.
8 Mistakes To Look Out for When Writing a Personal Statement
Avoid grammatical errors. This goes without saying, no one will take your nursing personal statement seriously if it is filled with grammatical mistakes. It just demonstrates carelessness, poor planning, and a lack of seriousness- everything that you do not want to demonstrate. So take time and go through your application process over and over again so that you do not get caught off-guard. You can employ the use of grammar detection software tools to assist you in this.
Avoid offering explanations for irrelevant things. You have a limited word limit so make sure every word you use has been carefully selected and considered. You, therefore, do not need to waste a few minutes explaining what a nurse does. The admissions committee are professionals in the nursing field and are well aware of those terms. So get straight to your point.
Do not leave out crucial details. During the planning process, make sure you have written down all the important information that you want to go into your nursing school personal statement. When writing the first draft, put that list in order from the most important.
Avoid general statements and cliches. Instead of saying “I am compassionate with good leadership abilities”, you should go ahead and dem0nstarte particular incidences either in patient care, volunteer programs, or from work experiences, that showed your compassion and ability to step up to a leadership role. This gives your personal statement more credibility and authority.
No namedropping. While it is great that you landed an opportunity to work with some of the well-known leaders in your field or in the medical field, this should not be the key takeaway, instead, emphasize what working with those people or institutions taught you, the values that you admire about them, the work ethic and the discipline that they exuded that inspired you to take along with you as you apply for a nursing program. These are some of the things that will stand out from hundreds of other personal statement examples.
Avoid long book details. A reading culture is good and very important, especially in the field you are applying for. It is however not a good idea to go into details and make a synopsis of your statement. This will not only take up much of your limited word count, but it is also unnecessary. Instead, you can write down some of the important lessons that stood out for you and show a relationship between those lessons and the relevancy of your content.
Do not use vague colorful language. While saying a statement like “I want to help people” might sound like a good reason to become a nurse, it is too vague. There are hundreds of other jobs that help people. Instead, narrow down and give a specific reason you will fit into the health career with examples of how you will be helpful to people as a nurse.
Do not use complex vocabulary. It might be tempting to use complex words in a bid to impress the selecting panel, but do not do it. Use language and vocabulary that you would use in everyday life. Keep it neat, professional, and easy to understand. it is important that your content reads smoothly coherently.
As we can see from the detailed article, a lot of things go towards the perfecting of your nursing statement. Set aside adequate time to prepare. If you are not sure what kind of program will be suitable for you, do your research on the many available options for nursing programs, take time to really figure out whether you want to practice adult nursing or whether your personality and experiences would be more suitable for a children’s nurse. Do you have the qualities it takes to work as a mental health care nurse? What about the career progression? Have you taken time to plan out where you envision your career growth to? What about the challenges that will come along? Are you aware of some of them? How will you cope with it? Is the institution you are applying to in line with your personal core values? These are some of the pertinent questions that you will need to ask yourself as you conduct your research.
Remember to take breaks in between as you write your content. Relax in the process be truthful and candid about your journey, and remember to ask for help during the revision of your draft.
Finally, practice and implement all the guidelines while looking out for mistakes to avoid. These tips will help you gain that confidence boost to write and send out that statement to your nursing dream school.
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