Preparing your “Why do you want to be a nurse” answer for an interview is key. The question will always be asked in a nursing school interview, which is why you must strategically plan out your answer, and take some time to reflect on this difficult question.
Not everybody puts thought into the “why” behind this question. Some people seem to act entirely on instinct, but you can’t afford to do so with your career – your future. Not to mention the fact that you need to have a professional, snappy, and thoughtful response to any (and every) question brought forward in an admissions interview.
Some are a chore to get through, but with some careful consideration, the question of why will be so foundational that you’ll never regret having explored it. This isn’t just something you have to answer, this is a question you want – even need – to answer.
In this article, you will find different answer samples to the “Why do you want to be a nurse” question, how to find a personal answer unique to you, and how to structure your answer to create an amazing impression on the interview day.
Having an answer to this question is more than important, it’s necessary. It’s necessary for your interview, but it’s also necessary for yourself.
Imagine being the interviewer for a moment and seeing a candidate who looks great on paper, with strong academic record, a great , good letters of reference, and a demonstrable track record of excellence all-around demonstrated in their . But in the interview, that candidate responds with, “I don’t know,” to the question of why they are selecting the career that they are. The interviewer’s likeliest response? Complete dismissal. If this question isn’t answered properly, it will corrupt the entire interview, and possibly even destroy the application altogether.
That’s why they ask the question. Would you select a candidate who didn’t know why they were even applying to nursing?
Of course not. If you were generous, you’d take the candidate aside and advise them to take more time to think about their future.
Which presents another reason why you need to answer the question: you owe it to yourself. This is who you want to be, after all. Make sure you put some thought into it. What the interviewer is asking of you is to not just explain why you’re a good candidate, but why nursing is important to you. So the main thing is to put your connection to the profession on display.
This question really is for the admissions committee to understand whether you fit with this career path. Your “why” will demonstrate whether you will be a positive addition to this profession.
Before you start composing your answer to this question, it’s important to reflect on your own reasons for pursuing this career. There are thousands of potential reasons and each one is legitimate in its own way. We have compiled a list of suggestions that may help you pinpoint your own “why” behind your decision.
One of the most common reasons that nurses give for “why nursing?” is to care for patients. Nurses spend . They spend close to twice as long with patients as personal visitors (more than friends and family) and almost three times as many minutes with patients as other medical staff (physicians, physician assistants, and medical students).
Directly caring for patients is the biggest part of nursing, and an excellent potential aspect of your answer to the question of “why” you want to be a nurse. If you love working with patients, it could be an ideal entry into your answer to this question.
Heat of a Team
Nurses work together as a team to care for their patients. Although each nurse is assigned certain patients, they will help each other out. Being part of a team is exciting for a lot of people, and perhaps this is one aspect of the profession that excites you. Knowing that somebody has your back, and you have theirs, is a big plus in any career.
Not just part of a nursing team, healthcare requires many specialists across disciplines, and nurses are a part of that team.
Physically, mentally, and emotionally, nursing is a challenge. The profession demands excellence and endurance from all aspects of life. Many people find challenges exciting and rewarding, and it might be beneficial to let an interviewer see that hardworking, never-back-down side to your character.
You’re a curious mind who loves to experience new things? Nursing is perfect.
Nursing is a multi-facetted profession, and there is always more to learn and explore. Whether travel nursing, working with children, or with the elderly, you can find something (or everything) within the field.
One of the most interesting areas to learn is in pure medical knowledge. Nurses have to deal with many different areas of medical science, so the opportunities for educational growth are exponential.
Although less altruistic than some other answers, it can be beneficial to let an interviewer know that you will love a career in nursing for these rewarding aspects as well.
Career Growth Opportunities
Nursing exposes a person to a wide variety of medical experiences, and that can lead to excellent insights into the field at large and lead to other, perhaps unexpected, career paths.
There are a lot of growth opportunities within the nursing field. A nurse might strive to become a nurse practitioner – very similar to an R.N. or R.P.N., but with some powers granted and further responsibilities. They can diagnose illnesses, order tests, or give prescriptions, for example. It’s like a halfway point between nurse and doctor. If this is your ambition, do not hesitate to express that you want a career where you will be able to grow, learn, and advance as a professional!
Nurses may also explore other medical professions. While you may be hesitant to express your desire to , you should know that these kinds of transitions are not rare. Nurses who transition to being physicians or other medical professional have a huge advantage in terms of experience and clinical knowledge! You should feel free to express your dedication and commitment to nursing, as well as your aspirations for other professional avenues. Whether you want to grow within nursing or beyond, admissions committees like applicants who show ambition.
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All of the reasons we list above are good. But you need more than just a parroted reason. Reason without passion is just an excuse.
There is a deeper reason for entering this field. Use this question to display that depth and your passion for nursing.
The personal why is about how the profession connects with you. There was a point in your life when you knew you wanted this for yourself. Maybe a family member was a nurse? Maybe somebody you knew was hospitalized, but the nursing staff at their hospital made their recovery infinitely better. Maybe that person was you: sick or injured, your life and health, improved by the nurses who cared for you.
Start with that moment in your life when you knew that this was the career for you. That was a life-changing moment and you should use that in your answer. Tell that story. You want to show the interviewer why you are the best candidate for admission.
Let’s say that the first moment you knew you wanted to be a nurse was a time you were hospitalized. Pretend you were playing field hockey, got tripped, twisted as you fell, and broke a bone. Your day was ruined until you got to the hospital. The nurse taking care of you was kind, thoughtful, and actually made you laugh, despite your horrible day. That stuck with you, and as you recovered, you kept thinking about how one person’s small efforts turned one of the worst days into your life into a day of healing – a day that got better.
Tell it. Tell the story.
With that example, you might start with your love of sports and competition and go from there. Try to remember as much detail as possible (the nurse’s name, for example, or what she said to make you laugh).
A personal story will stand out, give structure to your answer, and show the admissions board why nursing is special to you.
So, whatever your reason, elevate it beyond just saying, “I want to make a difference with patient care.” Tell the story, make it personal, and you will become more than somebody who memorized a sound-good answer, you will become a desirable candidate.
Start with a good, captivating opening statement. Make it short, to the point, and formulate it in such a way that you will set up the rest of your answer. A good attention-grabbing statement might be a cataclysmic life event, a profound quote, or a statement that generates intrigue. Think of the beginnings of your favorite books or films. They start with something that grabs attention (“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” for instance). You want to ensnare an audience, not just say, “I always wanted to be a nurse.”
For example: “We were miles from help, cell phones dead or no bars, and blood was everywhere. I was holding onto my belt, pulling it tight enough to stop the flow, talking my friend back to a state of calmness, and hoping like heck that my lack of belt wouldn’t mean my pants would fall down imminently. I didn’t know it at the time, but being the calm one in a crisis, remembering my first aid knowledge, and making it through all that trauma was what would lead me to become a nurse.”
Keep to one or two main examples as to why you are pursuing nursing, show your connection to nursing beyond just, “it’s a job”, and throw in personal flair to accent your statement. Outlining one or two examples or reasons will allow you to include interesting details and expand on these reasons in more depth.
The personal connection is a good place to start. When did you realize you wanted to be a nurse? Why do you love it? Those catalyst points in your life that made you choose nursing are a great start.
A concluding statement – as short and punchy as your opening line – is the best way to wrap things up. You might let the interviewer know your career goals and how their program will help you get to where you want to go.
Make sure to keep your answer to 1 or 2 minutes long. You do not want to ramble on and on, thus losing the attention of your interviewers.
Once you have an experience or two to focus on, spend some time thinking about how you want to present these talking points. Once you have an idea, start practicing. Remember, you do not want to memorize your answer, but you also want to have a clearly laid out format for your response. One of the worst things you can do is come to the interview unprepared, saying something like this, for example:
“I like helping people. I was once hurt and the nurses at the hospital helped me.”
That’s no good. Put effort, details, stories, and energy into the answer. This is the reason why you’re entering your next stage of life, so allow your excitement to shine through. Make a mini-story out of it.
It will help you a lot to practice your answer in mock interviews, making sure that your answer sounds natural, thorough, and professional.
“Why Do You Wat to Be a Nurse?” Sample Answer #1
“I have always needed to help people. As a kid, if my younger siblings got a scrape on the knee, I was right there with my mom, helping to bandage them up. I think I was just mostly in the way.
But that need to care and heal never went away. When I was older, I took first-aid classes and loved it. I loved learning how to help, knowing that if there was a problem I could be right there making things better.
The day that I knew specifically I wanted to be a nurse was after applying my first-aid knowledge directly. A friend of mine got hurt at school, slipped and had a bad fall down some stairs. I used my first-aid to keep them calm and check for any breaks or other issues before helping get them to the school nurse. While I was in the nurse's office, I felt like I was part of something already. Later, I spoke with the school nurse about my career path, and she was helpful, thoughtful, and encouraging.
Nursing is perfect for me. More than any other profession, nursing will give me an opportunity to care for people. It lets me do more than just give medicine, it connects me to people, and make a real difference in their lives.
That human element, making small differences day-to-day, and really helping people – all of that is deeply connected to who I am, who I want to be, and to nursing. Nursing and me are a perfect fit.”
“Why Do You Wat to Be a Nurse?” Sample Answer #2
“Nursing is a one-hundred percent career, and I am a one-hundred percent person.
Challenge is exciting to me. Rock climbing is a hobby of mine, and I love it because it’s active and requires commitment. I’ve always been passionate like that.
Another thing I’m deeply passionate about is going where I’m needed. I remember my aunt talking one time about being a nurse, and about the struggles that she and the other nurses went through. I remember her being really upset about it, but I also remember thinking, ‘Oh, they need people.’ And, as I said, I go where I’m needed.
From there I started learning as much as I could about nursing, taking elective classes in school, reading about the profession, and talking to my aunt about the job. The more I learned, the more I knew this was my path.
Nursing is a place where I can make a difference, be needed, and be challenged, and I am looking forward to all of that – one-hundred percent.”
The answer to this question is as personal as it is imperative. Really think about why you want to be a nurse above all else, and you’ll have your answer. Once you know the “why”, you might get thrashed a lot on your journey, but you will always have sight of your destination.
You also have the perfect answer for your interview. But with all that incredible insight into your life and who you want to be, that’s almost a by-product, isn’t it?
1. How much time should I take to answer this question?
An in-depth answer, one that properly communicates your connection to nursing, is going to take up more than a couple sentences. Keep your answer to 1 or 2 minutes long.
2. Do I have to script my answer and memorize my script verbatim?
No, and in fact, we strongly discourage memorization. Memorizing your answer comes off as disingenuous. Additionally, you run the risk of messing up your script and freezing in the middle of your answer. Instead, just focus on remembering your talking points.
Do plan out your answer carefully before your interview, practice it, but from that point on, just worry about holding the main points in your head. You don’t need to memorize the whole thing.
3. What do I do if I get stuck writing? How do I deal with “writer’s block”?
Everybody has a different approach to their writing processes, but one fast, fairly simple way to deal with writer’s block is to give yourself permission to take five minutes and free associate. You could use pen and paper, word processors, or record yourself talking aloud, but through whichever method you choose, just start getting out ideas about nursing and why you’re interested in it.
Another approach would be to think about the first time you considered nursing as a career and why. Those memories will give you excellent insight and a good starting place to plan your answer.
4. Can I give more than one reason, or should I stick to just one?
We recommend sticking to one or two events or reasons that led to your decision.
Since you don’t have time to get into every facet of every aspect of why you want to be a nurse, you’re going to want to stick to one or two primary reasons. You will weaken your statement if you have too many points.
5. What if I don’t have a personal story about why I want to be a nurse?
To have a strong answer, you need to incorporate personal or professional events or experiences that led you to pursue nursing. Why did you decide to pursue this career? What interests you about it? What events took place to lead you to apply to nursing school? These events do not necessarily need to be related to nursing directly, but you can connect them to nursing. For example, maybe your volunteer or work experiences demonstrate exceptional communication and interpersonal skills? Whatever it is, make sure you can connect your passion for nursing, and your experiences in your answer.
6. When structuring my answer, where do I start?
Chronologically is probably clearest. It will let you, and the interviewer, track the story better.
Keep in mind classical story structure, with a beginning, middle, and end, and use that as a rough guide.
7. What do I do if I forget my answer in the interview?
Just pause, take a breath, and remember the first thing your wanted to say. Since you’ll have practiced beforehand, the rest will come back to you. Since you’ve arranged your answer as a small story, the structure helps with remembering as well, and because you haven’t scripted anything, it doesn’t need to be exactly as you’ve rehearsed it.
8. My answer is longer than two minutes, and I can’t seem to get it down short enough. How do I stay within the right time?
You need to go back to your story and really look at it with a critical eye. Ask yourself if there are any details you’re including that aren’t really necessary. Try to weed it out.
What is extraneous to your story will pop out if you reconsider that story structure of beginning-middle-end. If you’ve started talking about a certain event in childhood that led to another event that led to your deciding to be a nurse, are you taking any digressions along the way? Including any anecdotes that, while nice, don’t support your main story?
If you’re having trouble sticking to two minutes, be ruthless in your editing.