Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates the numbers of nursing jobs will grow faster than the average for other occupations through 2020, many applicants to nursing schools cannot get in because of limited openings. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing indicates more than 75,000 applicants were rejected in 2011. A well-planned and executed personal essay on the application to nursing school is key to getting into the program.
Planning the Essay
Brainstorm the ideas to include in the essay before writing. Read the prompt carefully and address it. You may need to focus on a challenge you overcame or explain your plans. For an essay without a specific prompt, write down ideas about why nursing appeals to you, how this program will help you achieve your goals, and what traits will make you an effective student and nurse. The reviewers want to know how you embarked on this career path and what you will contribute to the field of nursing. What is it that makes you a better candidate for the limited number of slots in the nursing program?
Writing the Introduction
Open your statement with an introductory paragraph that draws in the reader and relates to your point. You might give a brief anecdote about a health care experience, include a compelling caregiver quote or use a startling statistic -- anything that makes the reader want to read and connects to your purpose. At the end of the introduction, create a thesis statement, a single sentence explaining the point of your paper. For instance, at the end of an introduction explaining the shock of a loved one having a heart attack, the thesis might be, "Ironically, this event made me realize my love for medicine and the abilities I possess that would make me an effective nurse."
Developing the Body
The body of the personal nursing narrative should focus on a particular event, telling a compelling story that illustrates the idea from the prompt. The event says something about the kind of person you are and why you would be a good nurse. A good essay could explain how your biology teacher opened your eyes to the miracles in medicine, for instance. Give specific details to make the experience vivid for the reader, such as explaining your actions, thoughts and feelings as you cared for a patient who made an impact on you. For a more general essay, create one paragraph for each major concept, such as one explaining your greatest strength and why it is important followed by one recounting how you have demonstrated your responsibility. For each paragraph, create a topic sentence explaining the point of the paragraph and follow up with specific information for support of that concept.
Finishing the Essay
After the body paragraphs, create a concluding paragraph that summarizes the ideas and emphasizes your point. Avoid trite endings that use language about how the nursing program will fulfill your dream or overused language in nursing such as "people person" and "compassion." Instead, focus on the prompt. Because this writing represents a personal reflection, make sure you have used "I" in the essay. Review for grammatical errors. A polished essay show the attention to detail necessary in nursing.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Registered Nurses
- Emory University: How to Successfully Apply to Nursing School
- University of California, Berkeley: Characteristics of a Good Personal Statement
- Simmons College: Tips for Writing a Great Nursing Personal Statement
- The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Application Essays
- Seattle University: Nursing Personal Essay
- University of California, Berkeley: The Introduction
- Purdue University: Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis Statements
- Johns Hopkins University: Essays that Worked
- American Association of Colleges of Nursing: New AACN Data Show an Enrollment Surge in Baccalaureate and Graduate Programs Amid Calls for More Highly Educated Nurses
Kristie Sweet has been writing professionally since 1982, most recently publishing for various websites on topics like health and wellness, and education. She holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of Northern Colorado.