- 14 January 2019
- 7 min read
How to write a personal statement for a nursing course application
Writing your personal statement will take time, effort and several revisions before you can submit it, so don’t leave it right up until the deadline to start work on it.
Putting together a high quality nursing personal statement can be difficult, but we’ve broken it down into manageable sections below to give you some ideas of how to get started.
Start with who you are
Your personal statement is your chance to talk directly to the course admissions officer about who you are, what motivates you, and why you should be chosen for a place in the branch of nursing you’ve applied for.
You should demonstrate your knowledge of nursing and the healthcare industry in accordance with your level of education and experience.
For example, if you’ve never worked in healthcare before, you should show that you’ve researched the role of a nurse and some of the tasks involved with it.
Don’t panic though if you aren’t a complete expert on nursing, they won’t expect you to be.
The main thing admission officers are looking for is passion, they can teach you everything else!
If you've worked in healthcare previously, you can definitely give details of your experiences to back up your reasons for applying.
Be specific about how your work has affected your decision to apply and why you feel suited to progressing your career in nursing.
Give practical examples of your interactions with nurses, and how they may have influenced your decision to apply.
Check out Eniola's advice on applying to university for a student nursing degree course - she talks about applying through UCAS and interviews!
Relevant experience and skills
Everyone has skills and experience that can be applied in a nursing environment, even if they weren’t acquired in a healthcare setting.
Here are some examples of skills and qualities that can be applied in nursing:
1. Communication - it is a vital skill that every nurse must possess. The ability to convey information in a concise and clear manner with both colleagues, patients and their family.
You could use examples from previous work to demonstrate this; maybe a difficult situation with a customer while working in a retail job that you managed to diffuse and resolve.
2. Organisation - another essential skill is to maintain an organised routine in a very busy environment, and often under pressure. Think of another situation where you worked under pressure in a logical fashion.
Here you could maybe talk about your time management of juggling a-levels with a part-time job, or your access to nursing course with a family.
3. Advocacy - this is the active support of those in your care. It’s a specific point in the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) code and you should address how you will be an advocate for your patients when you become a nurse in your personal statement.
Relevant nursing experience can also come from family situations. If you’ve cared for someone in any way at all, then you can definitely use this to back up your statement.
Try to avoid rambling if you’re going to do this, be concise about the tasks you undertook and how it has helped you develop as a person and as a potential student nurse.
Maybe you were a school council member or union representative previously, it’s all similar experience that shows you will support and advocate for your patients.
The key thing when talking about the skills that make you right for the course is to relate each of them to an example, don’t just listen skills.
Anyone can say they’re a team player with great communication skills, tell the person reading your personal statement an example of when you’ve demonstrated that and reflect on what you’ve learnt.
That’s what makes a good student nurse.
Your ambitions and career goals in nursing
The competition for nursing course places in every branch at every university is fierce, and consequently they want to ensure the places go to candidates who genuinely want to become a nurse, and are motivated to pursue their career in nursing.
Even if you don’t have a specific nursing role you would like to attain in your career, you should go into some detail about what sort of environment you could see yourself working in.
For example, if you’re applying for children’s nursing then your ambition should be focussed around children and the age group you could see yourself working with.
It may be that you want to focus on neonates in SCBU or childhood diabetes, but either way you should detail some of the professional development you might need in order to achieve your goals.
However, no one is going to hold you to this, so don’t feel nervous to include something in case you actually want to do something else later.
Most nurses I met had an idea of where they wanted to work when they started their training, and ended up going into a completely different area for their first nursing job.
Just being able to give an example of what you might do shows the admissions officer that you’ve thought further a head than just getting onto the course and are actually looking forward to getting into the profession itself.
Things to watch out for
Check any documentation from the university to see if there is a word limit set for a personal statement.
You don’t want to risk your application not being considered because your personal statement is too long.
If you’re applying through UCAS, they set their own character limit, so make sure you stick to it.
Send your application in before the deadline; the earlier the better. This means you need to start work on your personal statement as soon as you decide to apply.
Some courses will close applications before the given deadline if they’ve filled all their places, so you don’t want to miss out because you procrastinated.
It’s by far the most time consuming part of the application process, and it will undoubtedly require revisions prior to submission.
Don’t feel you have to write in a ‘forced’ way. It’s easy to feel insecure if you don’t feel you can write well, but it’s worse if you feel you have to write in an unfamiliar way just to sound more academic.
It’s important it comes from you and your experiences, and if you can get the reader interested in you as a person from the very beginning, you’ll be in with a better chance of getting an interview.
A personal statement should be just that - personal.
Any employer, or university in particular, could check your statement using specialist plagiarism software that detects whether or not you’ve directly lifted text from someone else.
If they discover you have copied someone else’s work, you could be rejected by that university or employer for this or any future place.
So, the message is, make it personal to you.