Writing an Application Essay for Nursing School Admission

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 11, 2021

An application essay is a key part of the nursing school admission process and writing a compelling one can set you apart as a worthy student candidate. Your personal memories, accomplishments, goals and reasons for choosing a nursing career path show a college admissions team why they should select you. Knowing how to write the essay can make it easier to do and increase your admission chances. In this article, we explore what an application essay for nursing school admission is, what to include and how to write one, plus share tips to help you get started on your own.

Related: "Should I Be a Nurse?": Factors To Consider

What is an application essay for nursing school admission?

An application essay for nursing school admission is a written document or personal essay you submit with your nursing school or program application. It gives you an opportunity to show your level of interest in nursing and explain why the career path or particular school program is important to you. An application essay can help you stand apart from other nursing school candidates, and the goal of your application essay is to show you are a worthy student to select for the nursing school program.

In some situations, a well-constructed essay can influence your acceptance into a school or nursing program more than your other qualifications or application materials, like grades, recommendation letters or test scores.

What's included in an application essay for nursing school admission?

You often include experiences that have shaped you, personally, academically or professionally in your application essay for nursing school admission. It can be a specific instance from your past, a description of a few key life events or a look at your future goals and dreams.

Here are examples of what to include in an application essay for nursing school admission:

  • Specific examples of why the nursing industry interests you

  • Reasons you chose a nursing program or school in particular

  • Your visions and goals for a successful nursing career

  • Personal accomplishments, like exceptional test scores or achievements

  • Past medical experiences, like volunteer opportunities, internships or personal health ordeals

  • Character traits and academic interests

  • Other reasons to approve your admission

Related: 10 Essay Writing Tips

How to write an application essay for nursing school admission

If you are considering applying for nursing school and need to write an application essay, consider following these seven steps:

1. Read the essay guidelines

Depending on how many nursing schools or programs you apply to, you may need to write a few versions of your application essay, as each may have specific rules or instructions to follow. Read all directions thoroughly and make a note of any word count minimums or maximums or specific topics that you must cover. Following instructions is a great first step in writing a good application essay and personalizing each one can also convey your commitment and desire.

2. Decide the focus of your essay

Choose which information you want to share in your application essay with thoughtful consideration. Some ideas include your accomplishments so far, what you hope to achieve in a nursing program and career or a meaningful example of how nursing has affected you or your family. Depending on any word count limitations, consider capturing your past, present and future accomplishments and goals.

If you have a word count limit, focus on the strongest element you can write about that captures your essence in relation to nursing. Brainstorm topic ideas and consider asking for input from family and friends.

3. Create an outline

Start with a rough outline and make adjustments to it as you organize your ideas and thoughts. An outline can give structure to your essay, help you stay on topic and support as you write your draft. Consider outlining different sections or paragraphs you want to include in your essay or specific items called for in the directions.

Be sure to include:

  • An introduction: The introduction gives your reader a clear understanding of what your essay entails and captures their attention.

  • A body: In this part of your essay, you expand on your ideas, story or points through various paragraphs.

  • A conclusion: This is the last paragraph of your essay and ties together your essay's key points in a memorable way.

4. Make it personal

Including personal examples lends authenticity to your application essay and gives a candid look at your personality, offering an admissions counselor a chance to confirm you're a strong match for their nursing program. Be mindful of using cliches and overused phrases and try to come up with honest, vulnerable and fresh content the reader may not have seen before.

Here's one example of how to make a personal experience convey emotion and showcase your motivation for becoming a nurse:

An intensive care unit (ICU) was my second home for two weeks last year—daily, from sunrise until well after sunset, as my mother recovered from a life-saving open-heart surgery. From doctors to nurses, the cafeteria staff to custodians, I could sense their care and kindness at a time when it was so needed, and it has always stuck with me. Thankfully, my mom's story has a happy ending, and it also inspired me to become a nurse to lend the same care, attention and kindness to others that my family received.

5. Describe your empathy and skill set

Kindness, empathy and caring are important qualities in nursing and a strong application essay showcases those attributes. Consider choosing a personal story that highlights how you innately demonstrate those qualities throughout your life and how they inspire and motivate you to choose a career in nursing. For example, share favorite memories of your volunteer work at a nursing home or how you cared for a sibling or parent during their illness or recovery.

Read more: Tips From a Nurse Coach: Highlighting Your Soft Skills as a Nursing Professional

6. Write your first draft

Get writing our essay once you have an outline and know your first draft won't be your only one. Often, the hardest part of the writing process can is starting and it can become easier once you have more written. As you write, consider keeping paragraphs shorter for an easier reading experience and break up material into subsequent paragraphs when needed.

Related: How To Write a Personal Essay

7. Proofread thoroughly

Check to ensure you have correct spelling, formatting, grammar and sentence structure before turning in your essay and application. Consider using a computer spell check program first, then printing a paper copy to check for anything it might've missed and review it more than once. It's also a good idea to ask a friend, colleague or family member to proofread your essay, too, or ask for their feedback and advice. Keeping your essay free of errors can make a stronger impression with the admissions counselor reading it.

Consider meeting with your guidance counselor to go over all of your application materials before turning them in, or if you need help thinking of creative topics to cover.

Tips for writing an application essay for nursing school admission

Besides the steps above, here are three tips for writing an application essay for nursing school admission:

Get started early

Be mindful of procrastinating this important part of your application process, as writing takes time and a strong essay can go through several reiterations. Get started as early as possible to help you create a well-rounded and impactful essay. Consider marking important dates and submission deadlines on your calendar to ensure you don't miss them and work backwards to establish personal deadlines to get the work done, like a first draft and proofreading deadline, for example.

Use writing programs and aids

There are several online or computer programs that focus on improving writing, and many are free. Consider using them to help improve your spelling, sentence structure, grammar and active voice. These programs also make the last step of proofreading your application essay easier.

Read your essay aloud

Reading your essay aloud can help you hear how it sounds to the reader and notice errors or areas to strengthen your structure or writing. Also consider reading it aloud to a friend or family member too. It's a good way to gain helpful insights into how engaging your essay is or portions to improve.

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