• 15 April 2020
  • 7 min read

How to get your Nursing Personal Statement into great shape

  • Lauren Young
    RNLD (Learning Disability Nurse)
"How exactly, can a personal statement be exciting? It is a personal statement, after all!"

Learning Disability Nurse, Lauren Young gives her guide on how to make your nursing personal statement stand out from the crowd, and underlines some common mistakes.

Topics covered in this article

Introduction

Clichés

Under-estimating your experience

Failing to stand out

Introduction

The UCAS personal statement is famed for being a key part of the application process.

Universities do look at your academic achievements, what subjects you studied, grades, and maybe whether they were A-levels, BTEC, diplomas, or Scottish Highers.

However, the main aspect still seems to be the personal statement.

Make sure yours stands out by avoiding these three common mistakes!

Clichés

I am passionate about nursing.

I have always wanted to be a nurse.

I am a very caring person.

Almost everyone’s personal statement will either begin with these phrases, or contain them somewhere.

They will be sincere.

They will be well-meaning.

They are also, obvious and unoriginal.

If you were not passionate, wanted to be a nurse, or caring, you would not be applying.

Around half a million people apply to become nurses (UCAS, 2020).

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Imagine how many statements admissions tutors read, repeating themselves with these statements.

So how can you stand out from the crowd?

If you are passionate about nursing, and simply must include this phrase, how about following it up with an example?

I am passionate about nursing, which is demonstrated by my volunteer work with children who have disabilities – for example.

I have always wanted to be a nurse, ever since my grandparent got diagnosed with cancer and I realised how valuable their nursing staff were.

I am a very caring person, as evidenced by the fact I am a carer for my parent who has MS.

These are just examples, think of what exactly it is that makes you these things.

There are a lot of caring, compassionate people in the world – show anyone reading your statement what makes you future nurse material, enough to be invited to interview, and eventually accepted onto a three year, intense nursing course.

Personalise your statement, by focussing on examples like those above.

If writing is not your strong point, you might find it difficult to avoid clichés and were hoping to use them to help you.

If this is the case, start off by including them and follow them up with strong examples.

When you have finished your statement, go back again and revise.

See if you can either omit the clichés, or change them slightly to make them more original.

At the very least, see if you can think of a creative introduction to capture the reader’s attention.

Under-estimating your experience

Most, if not all, nursing courses in the UK require you to have relevant experience working in the field.

What does this mean?

How can you have experience working as a nurse, if you are not qualified?

Maybe you are, or are about to be, a college leaver.

Another year or so of gaining experience and then applying might seem daunting.

Not to worry.

Relevant experience in this sense is usually a broad term.

If unsure, check with the university’s admission’s tutor or website for further details to see if they specify what they mean.

When writing your personal statement, really think about ANY relevant care experience you have.

What made you want to be a nurse, might be a good start.

Maybe you have a part-time job as a support worker, or learning support worker in schools.

However, it is important to stress that experience does not necessarily need to be paid.

Perhaps you helped with a relative who is elderly or disabled.

Make sure to include this in your personal statement, noting what tasks you did, what skills you gained, and most importantly reflect on how this made you choose a career in nursing.

Reflect in this sense, at a basic level, means writing about what you learned from this experience.

If you have no experience whatsoever, you are in luck.

The NHS and many care agencies often have vacancies for support workers and care assistants.

Some require you to have qualifications in care, but others will provide training for you.

Be aware of the subtle difference in job titles, for example health care assistants usually do require prior training.

Our sister site, Socialcare.co.uk is an excellent place to start looking for vacancies in the care sector! We cover NHS and non-NHS posts.

On that site, via the ads, you can contact care homes and agencies with care jobs local to you.

They might be willing to offer you some voluntary roles for a couple of weeks.

You will still need an enhanced criminal records disclosure (DBS check), but it could be a viable route to explore if you are in need of experience.

It will also confirm whether nursing is what you want to do.

Failing to stand out

I’ve mentioned above to try and make your statement creative, and be memorable.

Avoid clichés.

Include experience.

Do not be boring.

But how exactly, can a personal statement be exciting?

It is a personal statement, after all!

I think the key is to borrow from story-telling.

Everyone loves stories.

If you can add story-telling to your personal statement, you will engage a reader.

By doing this you will make yourself memorable, and unique in the reader’s mind.

You can tell your stories as part of your examples.

Not to literally go on and on, like an actual story, but use this opportunity to really sell yourself and include an anecdote about what you are talking about.

Why you are passionate about nursing, for example.

What exactly happened during that two week voluntary placement that was so great, so inspiring, that you decided this was to be your career path?

If you are a mature student looking to change career, this is your chance to share your enthusiasm and explain what made you make the switch to nursing in particular.

Another aspect to avoid is repetition.

Have a glance through your finished statement, looking for repetitions.

Does every sentence start with I, do you accidentally repeat phrases throughout.

This could happen especially if you have written it in parts, and forgotten you already wrote that particular phrase just a paragraph earlier.

Let your personality shine through.

This could be by writing about your personal experiences, and reasons why you want to be a nurse.

If you follow the advice in this article, avoiding clichés and specifying your individuality, this should come through automatically.

Hopefully these tips will help you in writing a personal statement that not only gets you to the interview, but allows admissions tutors to really be excited to meet you.

About the author

  • Lauren Young
    RNLD (Learning Disability Nurse)

I am a qualified Learning Disability Nurse and Social Worker. I first worked with children who have learning disabilities whilst studying classical civilisation in Leeds. After seven years of working in care, I realised I wanted to take my passion further and qualify at a professional level. I am passionate about giving the people I work with, as much independence as possible.

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  • Lauren Young
    RNLD (Learning Disability Nurse)

About the author

  • Lauren Young
    RNLD (Learning Disability Nurse)

I am a qualified Learning Disability Nurse and Social Worker. I first worked with children who have learning disabilities whilst studying classical civilisation in Leeds. After seven years of working in care, I realised I wanted to take my passion further and qualify at a professional level. I am passionate about giving the people I work with, as much independence as possible.