Getting into a top Nurse Practitioner (NP) program can be extremely competitive, thus every aspect of an application should be superior. That means, even if the applicant has a high GPA, a decent GRE score, and stellar recommendations, the personal statement should not be forgotten. However, the personal statement portion of the application can terrorize even the best applicants. Here are the right steps to take when completing a strong personal statement, and mistakes to avoid.
What Should a Personal Statement Include?
Before you begin writing, you must understand what makes a personal statement excellent. Compelling personal statements are true to the writer. They can be about anything, but they must show personality. It is the application committee’s chance to learn who the applicant is. The committee will want to know the story of why and how the applicant has come to this point of applying to NP school.
A good personal statement will highlight the applicants dedication to nursing, and understanding of the nurse practitioner role. It should be creative, concise and organized. It should begin with an intriguing introduction, continue with reflections of life experiences and explain why NP school is the next step in the applicants life. Finally, it should end with a solid conclusion.
What is the Structure of a Personal Statement?
The basic structure of a personal statement is:
- Introduction (one paragraph)
- Body (three to four paragraphs)
- Conclusion (one paragraph)
It is the questions answered within those sections that are most important. Why do you want to be an NP? What type of NP do you want to be? What are you going to do specifically for your patients and for the profession of nursing?
How to Begin
Begin by brainstorming ideas. You’re going to need to tell a story through the personal statement. What story do you want to tell? Maybe you were raised by a nurse, and the path to an NP has always been in your blood. Maybe you experienced a hospitalization yourself or with a loved one and learned about the purpose of nursing. Maybe through volunteer experiences and mission trips you decided you wanted to help people in your career.
Next, consider your audience. You will be writing to a group of highly professional people who hold the key to your entrance to NP school. Keep your writing professional, yet creative.
Finally, finish your first draft and revise from there. Have people whom you trust read over the statement and help you revise it. This process can take some time so it’s imperative to start early.
Mistakes to Avoid
An unclear understanding of the NP role
The role of a nurse is confusing and the role of an NP is arguably even more confusing. Prior to writing your personal statement and applying, you should have a clear idea of what type of NP you want to be and what an NP does on a daily basis. You could definitely earn bonus points if you already know what area of practice you want to be in.
If you are unsure of the above answers, you might consider shadowing an NP and doing your research to learn about the different types of NPs and areas of practice.
An unclear understanding of a DNP
If you are earning your DNP, make sure you understand what it is, why you’re getting it, and what you plan to do with the degree when you finish. There is misinformation on the internet regarding the DNP, and if you are applying to a DNP program, you are likely to mention it in your personal statement.
Leaving out experience
You have likely worked really hard for your experience, so it’s important to mention your accomplishments in your personal statement. Perhaps you have been a bedside nurse for five years, but you should mention everything you’ve done as a bedside nurse also. For instance, it’s important to mention that as a bedside nurse in a busy med-surg unit, you were a charge nurse, regularly precepted new orients, and lead quality improvement projects on the unit. Additionally, you may have earned extended certifications in your specialty. At times it’s hard to pat yourself on the back, but a personal statement is not a time to leave out your accomplishments.
Never underestimate the power of editing. Have two trusted people edit your personal statement before finalizing it. A typo or a sentence fragment can instantly take away from the credibility of a statement, so put in the time and effort for a solid edit. However, through the editing process, do not let others edit out your voice because that is the most important aspect of the statement.