These outstanding nursing school personal statement examples have been approved by our admission experts who have helped countless students get into their top choice nursing programs.
Whether you are at the beginning stages of a nursing career looking to apply to nursing school or wanting to further your career by becoming a nurse practitioner or a clinical nurse specialist, you will probably have to write a nursing school personal statement to gain admission to your program of choice. Although personal essays may or may not be required, and this will ultimately depend on the program, applying to nursing school is an important endeavor, and your personal statement deserves great attention.
In this blog, we are going to guide you in the process of crafting a strong personal statement that highlights your skills as well as the characteristics you possess that make you a good fit for the program.
I stood there not knowing what to do and being completely sure I had made the biggest mistake of my life. My decision to travel to a remote area of the Amazon jungle in Colombia to work as an elementary school tutor felt like the right one at first, but as soon as I got there, I regretted it. Being faced with the harsh reality of a struggling community made me feel completely out of place. It was heart breaking to witness such a palpable scarcity of resources and realize that there was not much that I could do. It took a lot of determination and adaptability to overcome the shock. Eventually, I learned to navigate this new world and embrace my role in the community. I planned lessons for the children and used all my free time to teach their parents to read and write. I developed teaching materials adapting them to my students’ context in order to make them meaningful. In the end, I realized I had become part of their lives, and I was humbled to have met such an amazing group of people. This experience taught me the true meaning of altruism and the value of hard work. This, alongside the cultural sensitivity that I developed, is what I am bringing with me to this new step in mi life.
Becoming a nurse has been my goal for a long time. As a child, due to an unfortunate kitchen accident, I burned my arms with hot water and had to stay in the hospital for serval days. I remember being very scared and in pain, but there was a lady in a white uniform who would come to visit me every afternoon. I always enjoyed seeing her because she spoke to me in a way that almost seemed like she was telling me a story, and that put me at ease. One day, I asked her why she always wore white, and she said she was a nurse. ‘A nurse’, I said to myself, thinking that was exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up. She was kind and compassionate, and she knew how to explain things. Those traits that I learned from her are the same skills that I have been honing ever since, as I know they will be essential in my future profession.
Something else I know to be essential in nursing is the ability to successfully build rapport with those under your care. As a tutor, I was always good at connecting with my students, and I tried to make learning relevant and meaningful to them. During my very first week of tutoring many years ago, one of my students would always get bored in reading class, and I was not sure why. One day, as I felt I was not being able to connect with him, I decided to try something new. I developed a completely different lesson plan, and I brought a different text to our session. I remembered that he had once mentioned that he liked monsters, and I told him we were going to read about them that day. His face lit up, and from that day forward, he enjoyed the class. By exercising patience and creativity, I was able to connect with him, and I enhanced my ability to interact with others and build rapport, which is something I hope to continue doing as a nurse.
This learning was put in practice while volunteering at a low-income community center for three years. It was an experience that provided me with the opportunity to enhance my collaboration and communication skills and validated my desire to become a nurse. In that fast-paced environment, I was constantly working on projects and initiatives to bring resources to underserved communities. For one of the events, the sponsor company requested completing a report with data from multiple parties. The amount of information that I handled, along with the short deadlines requested, would prove to be a challenge even for the most experienced leader. However, the idea that effective communication within the team was necessary in order to accomplish our common goal was very clear to me. Additionally, and most importantly, being able to advocate for those who do not have a voice was an absolute a privilege; a privilege that drives my aspiration to be a nurse and my desire to be able to do the same for my patients in the future.
When I ask myself what motivates me to become a nurse, the answer is always the same: caring for others is a noble act, for sure, but devoting my life to making someone’s day a little better is the most beautiful life choice I can make. Every experience I have had has helped me develop the skills that I am going to need moving forward. A long time ago, I thought I had made the wrong choice by going to a remote rural area of the Amazon jungle. When that turned out to be one of my most meaningful experiences, my world changed, and my path changed. I have always wanted to go back there, but the time is not right just yet. There is something I have to do first because, when I finally go back, this time I will do it as a nurse. (Word count: 888)
I could see my breath crystalize in the air as I exhaled, dribbling and dodging the opposing players on my way to the goal. “I’m open,” shouted my teammate, poised right in front of the penalty box, waving his arms. Two more players stood between me and the goal. I hesitated, wondering if I should trust my teammate or try to score the winning point. Turning, I launched the ball into the air with a swift kick, and watched nervously as my teammate stopped it and sent it soaring above the goalie’s head. As the crowd erupted in celebratory cheers, the game time buzzer rang out across the field and I knew I had done the right thing. Every team victory that season was a personal victory, sparking a feeling of elation that I seek to replicate as a member of whichever health care team I have the privilege of joining.
My biggest soccer fan was always my grandmother, who even brought orange slices for the team to practices, claiming, “The little things are the most important!” Several winters ago, my grandmother unknowingly exposed me to nursing when was hospitalized with pneumonia so severe that we were unsure if she would survive. Though her whole care team was dedicated, her nurse Jackie always went above and beyond to make sure my grandmother was comfortable and happy. Every day, Jackie would pop her head into the room and say “How’s my girl today?” or stop what she was doing to run a cool cloth over my grandmother’s feverish forehead. Each time I had to leave the hospital was gut-wrenching, but I felt better knowing that nurse Jackie treated my grandmother with such empathy. I remember being in awe of her kindness when I found out she left my grandmother sticky notes filled with encouraging messages while she was sleeping. When my grandmother asked her why she spent so much time on such little things when she had so many patients to attend to, Jackie winked and whispered, “The little things are the most important!” While I did not know I wanted to be a nurse in that moment, observing the profound impact Jackie made on my grandmother sparked a strong desire to explore the medical field.
Inspired by Jackie’s compassion for patients like my grandmother, I aimed to make the same difference when I signed up to volunteer at Riverview Hospital. With lofty goals of becoming a physician, I threw myself into my volunteering efforts, often coming in early or staying late to help stock supplies. Whenever I had a spare moment, I would chat with a patient, rearrange their pillows, or a myriad of other small things. One of the most striking aspects of my volunteering experience was how little time Riverview doctors were able to spend with their patients due to the sheer number of people to whom they had to attend. Nurses, on the other hand, had near constant interaction with longer-term patients: assisting them to the bathroom, administering medications, or changing IV fluid bags while chatting with them about how they were feeling. I was reminded of Jackie when I watched how tenderly one of the nurses changed their wincing patient’s bandages, all while trying to distract them with friendly conversation. Even aside from the comforting gestures I witnessed so frequently, it was the little things that made such a huge difference in patients’ wellbeing. Without nurses there to help execute the game play, the team would never score! Always a team-player, I knew I wanted to be a nurse.
Though my time spent on the soccer field is less and less these days, I am thrilled about the possibility of joining a new team and working hard to bring us to victory. My introduction to nursing through nurse Jackie could not have been better. Seeing the relief she brought to my grandmother in her most vulnerable state inspired me to do the same for others. Watching the nurses at Riverview Hospital expertly fulfill their duties while treating each patient as an individual cemented my desire to become a nurse who remembers that the little things are the most important. I want to be there with the assist right before the buzzer, helping my patients win, because every victory on a care team will be personal. (Word count: 719)
“Help!” my friend Jack screamed as his faced swelled up due to an extreme allergic reaction to a candy bar he had just eaten. At the time, I did not know what to do, except to call for an ambulance. As we arrived at the hospital, I stayed by my friend’s side to offer my support. I saw the physicians and nurses swarmed around him, ready to take action. After my friend’s condition had been stabilized, he was left with the fear of another anaphylactic episode. It was his nurse that was able to calm his fears as she educated him on anaphylaxis and how to make the appropriate dietary changes. While I did not know how to respond with medical attention when my friend needed me, I gained a new purpose. I was inspired to become a nurse and to guide patients in times of uncertainty through compassion and education.
To build my understanding of the nursing profession, I pursued experiences that would allow me to gain first-hand experience in the healthcare field. I secured a volunteer position at a children’s hospital where I was responsible for checking patients in and ensuring they were comfortable as they waited for their appointments. I was eager to practice helping calm patient nerves, just as the nurse had done for my friend Jack. Through consoling a memorable patient, named ‘Ryan,’ I learned the importance of working in a team of professionals. ‘Ryan’ was crying as he waited for his appointment since he was experiencing pain due to a broken leg. I talked to Ryan in an attempt to calm him down, but I was initially unsuccessful. To hone my approach, I asked a nurse on staff at the hospital how she approached children that are in pain. She shared with me that it is helpful to try to get their mind off the pain, for example by distracting them with an entertaining story. The next time I saw a patient crying like ‘Ryan’ had been, I was armed with funny jokes and engaging stories from my own childhood that I could share to take their mind off of the pain they were experiencing. From my time as a hospital volunteer, I learned that feedback from a team is critical to advancing professionally and providing optimal patient care. I look forward to becoming a nurse myself and working with my team of healthcare professionals to achieve this common goal.
In my final year of university, I became involved with clinical research; as a research assistant, I approached patients in the same children’s hospital in which I had earlier been a volunteer, but now I worked to enroll patients in our research study. My purpose was to explain the goal of the study to families in the hospital, educating them on its potential impact and answering any questions they had about enrolling. This task was challenging because I was approaching families that I had not yet built a rapport with and I needed to establish trust before asking if they wanted to enroll their child in our study. This required empathy for the hardship they were experiencing with a sick child, as well as and understanding of how to relay complex information in a way that was approachable to a variety of audiences. I learned that it is best to first ask the patient, or their family, what their understanding of a topic is to establish a baseline from which to build a conversation. In the future, as a nurse, I hope to apply what I have learned to build rapport with patients and their families for greater healthcare outcomes while ensuring that my patients are comfortable under my care.
Since my friend Jack’s anaphylactic episode, I have taken the initiative to explore the field of nursing and to build the teamwork and communication skills needed to be a successful future nurse. I look forward to my first day of nursing school where I will be surrounded by peers that share the same vision for the future as me: to train as a nurse in order to provide outstanding care to those in distress alongside a team of dedicated professionals.
The process of creating a strong personal statement starts even before you begin writing. There is a certain amount of preparation that should take place to identify the specific information you want to include in your essay. So, make sure you take all the necessary steps before you are faced with the daunting, but fun, task of writing your first draft. Remember to give yourself between 6 to 8 weeks to write your statement. Be prepared to write several drafts as you edit and change your essay!
The first step is what we call the brainstorming stage. You will need to do some soul searching and write many ideas as they come to you. Working on this step can take you anywhere between a couple of hours to a whole week. It really depends on you and how much you can actually remember from your personal history. There are two types of information that you will need to brainstorm at this stage:
- personal information
- information about the program
The first one is going to come from you, from your memories, and from your background, while the second one is going to come from the programs you are interested in. Here, we discuss each one in detail:
1. Personal information: The goal behind this step is to start gathering information about your personal story and about any experiences that you have had from which you learned something valuable. The idea is to consider all those events in your life that may have contributed to your decision to apply to nursing school. In order to do this, think about your life as a child, the characteristics of the place where you were born and raised, any meaningful experiences that may have sparked your interest in the nursing field, any contact that you had with the healthcare world, or any healthcare workers in your family that had some influence on you. Then consider your high school and teenage years and any events that may have increased your interest in becoming a nurse. How did you finalize your decision to apply to nursing school? Did you have an ‘a-ha’ moment, or was it a more gradual process? Whatever the answers to these questions may be, be sure to identify these key moments because they will be useful for addressing the thesis of your essay, which is why you decided to devote your life to a career in nursing.
Tip: Look at these examples of meaningful experiences that can potentially spark, or validate, an individual’s interest to become a nurse: being raised in a rural area with limited access to health care and wanting to do something about it in the future, growing up in an urban setting where great social disparity is evident and identifying opportunities to contribute to levelling up these differences, going through a personal injury or diagnosis that created opportunities to interact with nurses in a clinical setting, going through the illness of a loved one and seeing the impact that nurses have on a patient’s journey, volunteering at something related to the health sciences or an unrelated field with plenty of opportunities for helping others and interacting with them, conducting research in something related to the field, being involved in extracurricular activities that can lead to reaching a high level of compassion or maturity, and so on.
As previously mentioned, the main goal of the brainstorming stage is to identify your reason for wanting to become a nurse as well as the relevant personal experiences that you can reference to support this decision. We suggest you make a list of five to seven experiences that you could potentially include in your essay. This list is going to be significantly reduced later one, but it is good to have a good amount to start with. As soon as you identify these meaningful experiences, be sure to also identify what you learned from them; that is, the skills you developed, the characteristics you refined, or any learning that resulted from going through these events in your life. Think about this carefully and select those skills that align with the ones your program of choice values. The information collected here is going to be essential later on when you start writing your essay.
Tip: Look at these skills that are essential in the nursing field, and which you have probably developed throughout your life, and see which ones you can directly connect to your personal experiences🡪 Resilience, dedication, passion, emotional connection, motivation and drive, collaboration, teamwork, perseverance, sense of social responsibility, empathy, time management, organizational skills, value of emotional well-being, etc.
2. Information about the program: Gather as much information as you can about the program so you can identify the specific things you like about it. It is very important to know the reason, or reasons, why you want to apply to a specific program. In order to do this, you can look at the program’s website and pinpoint two or three specific aspects that interest you. See if these are aspects that you have had some past experience with, and will be able to contribute to, if you are admitted. Remember that besides telling universities what you hope to get from them, you will also need to show how you can actually complement their program. Showing what you can bring to the table, by referencing specific experiences you have had in these areas of interest, is the best way for programs to know that you will be successful if you are admitted.
Identify the areas that you are interested in - we can’t stress this enough. Do you like the program’s curriculum? If so, what do you like about it? Do you like the research lab? Why do you like it? Have you done research in the past? Has this prepared you to make good use of this lab and contribute to whatever research they do here? Do you like the extracurricular initiatives the program offers? Do these align with any extracurricular activities you did in the past? Do you like the opportunities for patient interaction that the program provides? Why? Have you had patient interactions before? What did you learn from them that you can use moving forward? Knowing the specific reasons why you have chosen this program in particular is essential to write a strong essay later on. So, get to work, and make a list of reasons. We suggest you focus on two or three areas maximum. Quality is more important than quantity, and you want to be concise in order to be effective.
Congratulations on brainstorming all this essential information! Once you organize it, you can focus on the structure of your nursing school personal essay.
Like any other type of personal statement, your nursing school statement is an academic paper and, as such, it should follow the same guidelines as any academic essay. Here are some aspects to be considered:
1. Spelling and grammar: It might feel like we are stating the obvious, but your essay should be impeccably well-written. This does not mean using elaborate and sophisticated language but ensuring that there are no typos, grammatical errors, or spelling issues of any kind. These errors take away from the quality and professionalism that you want to convey, so be sure to pay attention to potential issues. In order to minimize them, you will need to read and proofread your essay several times. Of course, the more you read it the more sense it is going to make to you, but this does not necessarily mean that everything is in order. It just means that, after you have worked on it for several hours, you will have to let it rest for a couple of days before reading it again. Another good strategy is reading it out loud or reading it to someone else. This will help you identify errors, incoherencies, or elements that detract from your narrative.
2. Length: It is up to each program to determine the word limit they require from applicants. This information is available on the programs’ websites and will probably be given to you as part of your application package.
Tip: As each school’s requirements and application process varies, it is advisable to look for more information regarding the profession and latest topics and trends on the Canadian Nurses Association, the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing, or The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) (in the US).
In terms of length, it is very important that you stay within the limit because this shows, not only that you can be concise, but also that you can follow directions. If, after completing your first draft, you realize that you are over the limit, you will need to address this issue before moving on to drafting the second version. In order to do so, you can see what information is not serving a purpose and could be deleted without affecting the narrative that you have created. As writers, we tend to believe that everything on our essays is absolutely essential but, when faced with word limit issues, we soon discover that there is, in fact, some information that can be left out after all. That being said, it is important to be mindful of the limit since the moment you start writing. This is because you want to avoid having to reduce your essay excessively at later stages, as deleting too much information here and there will negatively impact the cohesiveness of your text.
3. Content: Besides all the information that you brainstormed from your own personal history and from the programs’ websites regarding the areas that interest you, there is something else that should be part of the content of your essay, and that is, the prompt. You need to be aware of the prompt of the essay provided to you by the program, and you always want to address it. Some programs will ask for a general essay describing your motivations to become a nurse, in which case the information you gathered during the brainstorming stage will suffice, while others will give you a specific question to answer, in which case one paragraph of your essay should be devoted to answering said question.
Tip: To get an idea of the kinds of questions programs may ask you to answer in your personal essay, check some examples of nursing school interview questions:
4. The structure: Like any other academic essay, your nursing school personal statement should follow an academic structure and be organized in three major sections: introduction, body, and conclusion. See below for information on what each of these sections should include:
a. Introduction: This is your opening paragraph and, as such, it is the first impression you are going to cause on your readers; that is, the members of the admission committee. Important to remember here is the fact that an introduction can make or break your essay, so you need to come up with a very good one. The purpose of an introduction is to act as a road map that allows the reader to understand where your story is going. That being said, the most important part of your introduction is the opening sentence. This is the one that will draw the reader in and make them want to keep reading. Your opening sentence can be a quote, an anecdote, an event, or any idea that is captivating and enticing. See these examples: ‘It was three in the morning, and I was sitting in an empty room trying to think how my life had come to this’ or ‘He did not need to say anything; I knew something was wrong just by looking at him’. Sentences such as these ones will leave the reader wanting to know more. There is a reason opening sentences are also called ‘hook’ sentences. Can you think of a good hook sentence to open your essay with?
b. Body: The body of your essay is where you elaborate on the introduction by providing personal examples. Remember all the brainstorming we asked you to do? This is where that information comes in handy. Your body paragraphs should include information about those meaningful experiences that you have gone through that have sparked and solidified you interest in pursuing a career in nursing. Depending on the word limit required by your program, you will decide how many of these experiences to include. We asked you to come up with five to seven during the brainstorming stage of the writing process. Now, since our recommendation is quality over quantity, you should plan to include maximum two or three experiences and present one experience in each paragraph. Of course, one experience per paragraph is not all it takes. Besides presenting the experience, you need to include what skills or characteristics you developed because of this event and how you will be able to apply these skills moving forward in your nursing profession. In case the program provided a specific question or prompt to be addressed, add a fourth paragraph where you answer this question. It is important to tell the program what they want to know, so do not forget to include this information as part of your body paragraphs.
Tip: Mention how your skills can be drawn upon in the future in order to give the admissions committee a glimpse of the type of nurse and professional you are going to be. Remember some of the essential skills in the nursing profession that we mentioned above and see how they connect to your past experiences.
c. Conclusion: The same way we place great importance on the introduction of a personal essay, we also want to emphasize the big role that your concluding paragraph has on your text as a whole. The most important thing we can tell you is that a conclusion should not be a summary. It should, instead, be a place to emphasize some of the major ideas you previously discussed and, when possible, it should circle back to the introduction. Conclusions have to be insightful and captivating. They should convey a sense of closure and an invitation to keep reflecting on the ideas that were presented in the essay. Think that this is the very last thing that the admissions committee will read from you. What is the last impression that you want to leave on these people? Be creative!
There is an unquestionable reality that we need to accept. No matter how much effort and time you put in writing your personal statement, there is a high probability that the committee members will not spend too much time reading it. Do not take this personally. They go through many application documents from many applicants like you and do not want to waste too much time reading one single essay, especially if it is not interesting enough. They want, instead, to be able to identify in a few minutes whether you are the person they are looking for. This, of course, creates the need for applicants to write essays that have great content, great structure, and that have that ‘it’ factor that will make them stand out from the crowd. Your essay should be easy to read and have a great narrative. It should not read like a CV or list every single experience you have had in chronological order. As we mentioned before, quality is better than quantity, and your nursing school personal essay should have precisely that: quality.
In terms of the order in which you should write your essay, we suggest you work on your body paragraphs first and then move on to working on the introduction and conclusion. As we mentioned above, your body paragraphs should include meaningful experiences from your life as well as any major takeaways from them and how you see yourself applying this learning in your future career as a nurse. Additionally, there should be a section of your essay where you answer any specific question provided by the program. In general, you want to make your body paragraphs memorable. Address one experience in each paragraph and be sure to create proper transitions in order to bring cohesion to your whole personal statement. If you do not know what transitions to use, you can always look for lists of connectors online to help you.
What experiences should end up in your body paragraphs? That is up to you. What we can suggest is that you diversify the content by highlighting experiences from different dimensions of your life. Having one of the paragraphs address a personal experience, the second address a research or academic experience, and the third address a volunteering or extracurricular activity is much better than including three experiences related to only research, for instance. Be strategic in how you showcase your skills!
Follow these steps to start drafting you essay:
- Remember all the information you brainstormed earlier? The first thing you need to do is identify the top three experiences from your life that you want to include.
- Once you have them, write them in bullet points. Create one bullet point for each that mentions what the experience is.
- Then, expand each bullet point into sentences and these sentences into paragraphs.
- As we mentioned above, each paragraph should have three essential elements: what the experience was (i.e., the meaningful experience), the main takeaways you got from it (i.e., skills you developed, characteristics you enhanced, etc.), and future applications (i.e., how you can apply this learning moving forward).
- Once you have your paragraphs ready to go, make sure you start each one of them with a good opening sentence. Each paragraph should follow the same structure of the general essay. This will create flow and cohesion between ideas.
- You can look at sample and think how these medical school essays could be applied to the nursing field.
Ok, so you finished writing your first draft. Good job! However, this is only the beginning. Once you are happy with your first draft, you will need to receive expert feedback on it. Having a professional look at your essay and suggest changes to enhance what you have written is vital to create a strong product. You will see that, more often than not, these experts will be able to identify weak areas and ineffective ideas that you will not perceive. Once someone else looks at your essay, be sure to incorporate their suggestions, work on editing and polishing up your document, and do another revision. Crafting the perfect essay that will grant you admission to your dream program is a process that should be done carefully and conscientiously. That means multiple revisions and edits are essential. In general, writing a strong competitive essay does not happen overnight. The whole process can take several weeks. So, be prepared to put in the effort and remember to do some happy writing!
When applying to nursing school, sometimes you will need to write a personal essay. This academic essay should highlight some of your most meaningful personal experiences and the skills you gained through them. It should provide a good narrative that will help the admissions committee know more about you as a person and about your chance to be successful in their program. By showing that you possess certain skills that are important in the nursing profession, the committee members will see that you are a good fit. Writing your personal essay is not an easy task and should not be taken lightly, but when you finally finish writing and look at the amazing essay you have created, you will feel satisfied with the job you did and will be able to show your program of choice why they need to have you.
1. Do all nursing schools require a personal essay?
2. Should I start writing right away?
No. There are a few steps that you wan to follow before you actually start writing. One of those is the brainstorming stage, and it will help you come up with all the ideas and information that you will need to write a good essay.
3. What are the two types of information that I will need at the brainstorming stage?
Personal information and information about the program or the areas that interest you.
4. What personal information should I gather during the brainstorming stage?
Personal experiences that have been meaningful enough and that have allowed you to develop different skills that are important in the nursing field.
5. What information about the program should I gather during the brainstorming stage?
You need to identify the two or three areas of the program that attract you the most and see how those relate to your own experiences.
6. What is the main purpose of the brainstorming stage?
To identify the reasons that have led you to pursue a career in nursing.
7. How should I structure my nursing school personal essay?
It should have an academic structure and include an introduction, three or four body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
8. Is the word limit important?
Yes, it is! You need to stay within the limit in order to show that you can be concise and also follow instructions.
9. What if the program asks a specific question to be address?
Then you make sure you address it. Do not leave this information out, as it is essential to provide the program with the information they want to know.
10. Why is the introduction important?
Because it is the first impression that you are going to have on your readers.
11. How should my entire essay begin?
It should begin with a captivating opening sentence in the introduction. A statement, quote, or anecdote that is creative and that sparks curiosity on the reader.
12. What information should I include in my body paragraphs?
You want to describe one meaningful experience per paragraph (i.e., personal example), include the main takeaways from this experience, and how this learning can be applied in the future.
13. What should I do once I finish my first draft?
You need to have an expert give you feedback on it. You may think it is already perfect, but personal essays usually require lots of revisions before they can be at the competitive stage.
14. How long will it take to write my nursing school essay?
It depends on the writer, but it is usually something that does not happen overnight. It usually takes several weeks. It depends on how much access you have to professionals who can provide good feedback and how much time you devote to incorporating their suggestions.