Tips to Write a Personal Statement for Nursing School
When you make the decision to pursue a nursing career, there are a lot of additional choices you need to make. Chief among them is which nursing school you wish to attend. It has to be the right fit for you in many ways. But have you ever taken a moment to consider the flip side? How do nursing schools determine which prospective students get admitted? In addition to your testing scores, a personal statement for nursing school is what an admissions committee will use to gauge whether or not you’d succeed in their program.
A nursing school personal statement is an essay that introduces you to your prospective university. Through your writing, you share with the admissions and evaluations committee why you want to be a nurse, your motivation for choosing the school, and reasons you would be a positive addition to their program. This is an opportunity to show off your interest in nursing, display your personality, and flesh out achievements mentioned in your resume.
Understanding how to write about your background and career ambitions isn’t likely something you’ll innately know how to do. While it may be tempting to try to woo the admissions council by telling them you plan on being the best nursing student that ever walked through their doors, there’s got to be a good balance of aspirations and measured expectations in your personal statement.
Below, we describe the steps of how to write a personal statement for nursing school, provide a sample statement, and share some useful advice to help your statement stand out from the crowd.
Nursing School Application Essay Structure
While other parts of your application — like your transcript and test results — share useful facts about you, your essay is what truly sets you apart. Your nursing personal statement opening lines should be gripping enough to hold your reader’s attention. Consider adding an anecdote or story about your experiences with nursing. This can help make a human connection with the committee and help them to understand your motivations for pursing the field.
This is also a great place to tie in a general overview of your reasons for becoming a nurse. Try not to get too in depth — that’s the purpose of the body paragraphs. This introductory section is normally a single paragraph.
In these paragraphs, describe your related personal experiences and give concrete reasons why you wish to attend their particular nursing program as opposed to any random nursing program. If the school provided a writing prompt for their nursing school personal statement, be sure to address their question thoroughly.
You can also give more context here. If certain life experiences impacted your grades, provide an explanation. If you have little or no volunteer experience in healthcare settings, explain what you spent your time doing. This section is typically three paragraphs, but could be longer if that’s what’s best for your essay.
What impression do you want your personal statement to leave on the admissions team? Use your creativity to bring closure and pique their curiosity. Emphasize key points made in your body paragraphs, but don’t simply restate them. Find a way to weave them in more subtly. This section is usually one paragraph.
Steps in The Writing Process
Step 1: Research
The first step is to learn about the nursing program and pinpoint the reason why they’re among your top choices. The admissions teams will likely be sifting through hundreds of personal essays, so be sure to show how their specific nursing program is a great fit for you.
Try researching awards or accolades the program has received in the past. Often, you’ll be able to find this information on the school’s website as the administration would be eager to share that kind of recognition with the public. For example, if a program was named among the best schools for men in nursing by the American Association for Men in Nursing, or if the school was recognized by the Campus Pride Index (which recognizes initiatives for LGBTQIA+ students), you might want to say why such a distinction is important to you.
If you’ve already visited the school, describing your on-campus experience in your personal statement for nursing school is like a goldmine of persuasion. It shows that you have a realistic expectation of the school and its faculty. Don’t worry if you haven’t visited yet. You can still pull a lot from indirect experience and online research.
Here are some questions to consider:
- Have you heard positive reviews about their school?
- What are their NCLEX pass rates?
- Is their location a good fit for you?
- What do you like about their school culture?
- Do they offer a specific program that is of interest to you?
Step 2: Brainstorm
Now it’s time to put pen to paper. Since universities take pride in the accomplishments of their students, use your personal statement to show what you bring to the table. Throw whatever comes to mind onto the page. It’s easier to build from an imperfect list of ideas than attempt to create a masterpiece from nothing. Consider the following questions to generate some ideas:
- Which of your character qualities would make you a good nurse?
- What personal experiences led you to choose nursing?
- Have you spent time in healthcare settings? What was it like?
- What achievements would you like to highlight?
- How has your understanding of nursing grown?
Step 3: Draft
Next, pull from your brainstormed list and organize your thoughts into paragraph form. Be sure to include a clear introduction, solid body paragraphs, and a strong conclusion. Remember that you’re not going to write a perfect personal statement — nursing school doesn’t require perfection. You simply want to generate something you can mold into the essay you’ll be proud of. Here are some considerations as you get started:.
- Are you using all of your brainstorming content or only certain ideas?
- Why are you selecting this particular brainstorming content to include in your essay?
- Does your first draft answer any prompts the school provided?
- Does your draft have the makings of a compelling final essay?
Step 4: Edit
This is where you begin to refine your work. Pay attention to the big picture first, like the paragraph structure and main ideas. Double check to see if the examples you used have the desired effect.
Next, zoom in on the details. Make sure your sentences are smooth. Check for spelling and grammatical errors. Change sentences that simply don’t sound right. A personal statement for nursing school is approximately two pages, but check to see if the application provides a specific number of words. Try to stay within 50 words of the limit.
At this point, it’s a good idea to read your personal statement for nursing school out loud. You’ll catch things that flew under the radar when you read it internally. Try not to do this more than two or three times, otherwise you might get caught in a time-wasting loop of endless revisions.
- Does your personality shine through?
- Are your transitions smooth?
- Does each paragraph have a unique purpose?
- Are you clearly getting across the points you want to make?
- Do you have a strong conclusion?
Step 5: Proofread
Next, find a trusted proofreader. No matter how thorough you are, there could still be things you don’t catch. Someone else may think of an improvement that didn’t occur to you.
Your personal statement for nursing school is a part of your ticket to your future. It’s important to make every step count. Do your best to find someone who will take this seriously and provide valuable information — a professional is ideal, like a guidance counselor or a teacher. You could also choose a peer who has a knack for writing.
It can also be helpful to ask more than one person, but try to limit outside opinions to no more than three people. If a particular comment comes up more than once, it’s probably worth revising. On the other hand, you don’t have to incorporate every single opinion. Sift through what they say to pinpoint what feels right to you.
- Does your proofreader truly care about your success?
- Will your proofreader return your essay in a timely manner?
- Does your proofreader have a unique skill set that could benefit your essay?
- Can your proofreader keep an eye out for the big picture and the small details?
Useful Tips for Your Nursing Personal Statement
If you happen to work well under pressure, great! Do what’s best for you. But generally, procrastinating won’t produce your best work. This is especially true when you consider that you’re probably drafting nursing school application essays for multiple programs.
Then, you’ll need to factor in that your proofreaders’ lives don’t revolve around your essay. You’ll need to allow time for this process. Start months in advance so that your personal statement for nursing school is one less thing to worry about during the busy college application process.
Make Your Essay Heartfelt
What’s more memorable: a dry list of facts or an engaging story that makes you feel? The latter, of course! Don’t simply restate your resume. Create a story that highlights your humanity while incorporating some of your achievements. Touch their minds — and hearts — as best you can. People are more likely to remember facts when they’re coupled with emotions. Try to create an emotional connection to cement how strongly you feel about pursuing their nursing program.
You may have plenty of powerful anecdotes and successes from your resume, but you have to choose which ones will be the most impactful. How can you best display your soft skills? Which story elicits the strongest emotional response? A lot rides on your personal essay, so make every word count. These nuances will help you stand out in a nursing personal statement.
Nursing Personal Statement Example
Need more inspiration? It can be helpful to check out personal statement for nursing school examples as you plan your own essay. See below for a sample essay:
Dear Daisy University Admissions Team,
My grandmother, the matriarch of my family, is the most courageous person I’ve ever known. That is why the day she fell down a flight of stairs will forever haunt me — her agony and helplessness made her unrecognizable. It is also why her recovery is so inspiring, and that couldn’t have happened without the compassionate nurses who supported her.
From the moment we entered the emergency department to the last home health visit, nurses played a pivotal role. One of the greatest gifts you can give is to help improve someone’s quality of life. I want to be able to do that for someone else one day. I want to become a nurse because it’s truly an honorable profession. This experience is also one of the reasons why Daisy University’s nursing program is my top choice. I love your program’s emphasis on caring for the elderly population. It cemented my decision to pursue a career in nursing.
I strive to make meaningful choices. I volunteered at Sunflower Hospital for three years because that is where my grandmother was admitted. I wanted to give back to the place that had been so impactful and receive a well-rounded introduction to the healthcare system. It was eye-opening to experience the facility from the staff’s perspective. One of my main tasks was to feed patients, but as simple as that sounds, it taught me the value of emotional intelligence. Patients often confided in me, and I had to be empathetic in a professional way. Sometimes they revealed concerns or needs that I later communicated to their nurse. The little I could do meant the world to me.
I had to be mindful of the various dietary precautions to ensure the patient’s safety. I even had to send food back to the cafeteria because their meals did not match the doctor’s orders. Communicating with different departments showed me how each part comes together to care for patients. I witnessed nurses providing excellent care while under stress, serving as the central communication point for within the healthcare team, and advocating for patients’ needs. This helped me realize how much effort went into caring for my grandmother. My appreciation for their efforts, and fascination with the field, grew exponentially.
While getting my associate’s degree at Primrose Community College, I worked as a tech at Lily Hospital for one year. This role further opened my eyes to what it takes to be a successful nurse. I had to fine-tune my time management, prioritization, and be on the lookout for any signs of discomfort or issues that warranted medical attention. Previously, at Sunflower Hospital, I took it upon myself to communicate patient complaints to the healthcare team. At Lily Hospital, it was my duty to communicate these issues and any other pertinent information. I worked closely with the nurses. They depended on me to complete my tasks so they were better able to do theirs. This gave me an even deeper insight into the importance and complexity of their work.
Watching my grandmother’s healing process sparked my curiosity and desire to become a nurse, and the lessons I have learned through my work experience showed me the realities of this profession. I naturally possess many of the soft skills necessary to be a great nurse, and I’ve pursued opportunities to hone them. My tour of the Daisy University nursing program revealed that your staff has the qualities I admire most, like attentiveness, patience, and clear communication. Additionally, your focus on geriatrics is the perfect fit because that is the specialty field of nursing I want to pursue. I’m confident in my ability to succeed in your program, and throughout my career.
I appreciate your time,
Make Your Personal Statement for Nursing School Shine
Ready, set, write! You’ve got this. Now, you’re even more prepared to create a winning nursing application essay and make it through school. After you gain some nursing experience, grow your career by creating a flexible schedule with IntelyCare.