When you apply to nursing school, one of the requirements in your admissions packet will be a personal essay. Known as an admissions essay, statement of purpose, or even letter of intent, this is your chance to make a written plea stating why you want to be a nurse and why they’re the ones who can make that dream happen.
What are Schools Looking for in an Admissions Essay?
This isn’t the place to list your credentials or sneak in a few quotes from past teachers—those all fit somewhere else, and you don’t want to waste your essay on stiff formalities. That’s because the admissions essay is the only chance you have to put a personal touch on your nursing school application, the only place you have to demonstrate your personal drive and dreams.
Tell a story related to providing care. Talk about what motivated you to become a nurse: helping an aged parent through an illness, another nurse who inspired you, volunteering to hand out food in a high-need neighborhood. All of these types of situations demonstrate that you are a passionate and caring individual—the type of person who goes on to make an excellent nurse.
Keep things neutral. If you have strong opinions about the nursing field—maybe hospital A needs to change its shift rotation or you had a negative experience at hospital B—it’s best to leave them out and focus on the positive instead. Nursing schools don’t expect you to climb on a soapbox and make a difference in the healthcare field—at least not right away. Get the education first, and make judgments later.
Explain extenuating circumstances. You might be applying for nursing school with a low GPA or after you dropped out of the first nursing school just a few months in. If you have a good reason for these situations (say you had to care for that same aging parent, or if a life circumstance got in the way), you may want to touch on the subject here. Don’t go on for pages—a sob story won’t help your case—but do make an indication that you are aware of how your admissions paperwork might look, and that you aren’t going to make the same mistakes again.
Adhere to the recommended length. If the nursing school wants no more than 500 words, shoot for between 450 and 500 total. If the nursing school wants a maximum of three pages, write the maximum of three pages. Try to hit the length exactly on the mark, and under no circumstances go over.
Give yourself time. Don’t wait until the last minute to complete your nursing school essay. Write it a few weeks (or even months) early, and let it sit for a few days. Then go back and read it with fresh eyes. If possible, have a family member or friend read it, as well, so you can make the necessary changes. Remember, grammar and spelling count, too.
Because there is such a large nursing shortage going on right now, many people think it’s easy to get into nursing school. Considering just how desperate some hospitals are for nursing staff, nursing school administrators must be standing at the door with arms wide open, right? Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. A lack of nurses means a lack of nursing instructors, as well, and the waiting list to attend nursing school can be a long one. That’s why having a great nursing school admissions essay can go a long way in getting you into school and on your way to a great new career.