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Nursing Personal Statement Buzz Words To Avoid

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.

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. Writing a high quality nursing personal statement can be difficult, but we’ve broken it down into manageable sections below.


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. You should show that you know what the day to day routine can be like and how you're suited to it.

If you've worked in healthcare, 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.


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:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Commitment - to ensuring the highest quality of care is given in every situation.
  • 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.


    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.


    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.

    Make sure your application is sent 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. 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.

    Browse our list of Nursing Jobs here.

    By: Ryan Kelly

    Last week, we revealed the five most overused sentences in medical school personal statements. This week we’re going a little deeper, down to the level of individual words.

    In our experience, these 10 words and phrases are often beaten to death in pre-med essays. Use them sparingly, if at all.

    1. Truly, Very, Effectively (adverbs)

    “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” In Stephen King’s On Writing, the famous author berates the use of adverbs. At one point he refers to them as “weeds” that you must pull from the roots.

    Why such hatred for the adverb? It’s because they’re unnecessary, as long as you’ve chosen strong nouns, verbs, and adjectives (on occasion).

    Let’s take a pre-med favorite, truly. As in, “I feel truly committed to the medical field.” The word is trying to communicate a sense of passion and authenticity, but all it’s doing is wasting precious characters. It’s overcompensating; no one should feel falsely committed.

    Same goes for effectively. If you effectively managed a team, then you managed it. Ineffectively managing is a bit of an oxymoron. Please do not waste 11 characters on this adverbial monster.

    Very is unnecessary too. I’d say it’s very unnecessary, but you’ve already gotten my point without the additional characters.

    2. Firsthand

    Firsthand is another pre-med favorite. As in, “I gained firsthand experience in clinical settings.” If you describe the role you played in the clinic, then the reader will understand your degree of experience.

    Unless you’re shadowing or observing, the experience will always be firsthand (duh). You wouldn’t bother calling shadowing a secondhand experience, would you?

    3. Sparked, Ignited, Fueled, Burning Passion (the fire metaphors)         

    We’re going to need a firehose, because these personal statements are burning up! As in, “This breakthrough ignited a fiery passion, fueled further by sparks of burning curiosity.”

    Just kidding. But seriously, you should cool it with the fire metaphors. They are okay once in awhile, but using them too often sounds corny.

    4. Passive Voice

    A few pre-meds have told us that passive voice is used often in scientific writing about research, which might explain its prevalence in personal statements. But trust us--active voice will save you characters and make your writing more powerful.

    Instead of, “A new drug was discovered by our group of researchers,” just write, “Our group of researchers discovered a new drug.”

    5. Is, Are, Was, Were (the “to be” verbs)

    To be or not to be? That is an easy question. Whenever possible, you should opt for active voice and strong verbs. Stay away from the “being” words. Instead of, “I saw that the patient was in a lot of pain,” try using a better verb. “The patient grimaced.”  Now, that’s a verb that the reader can see! It expresses the same concept but with more flavor and fewer words.

    Good verbs dance on the page. They shout to the reader; they jump out while reading. “To be” verbs are lazy and boring. Though occasionally required, you should scrutinize each use of “to be” to find a more colorful verb.

    6. Realized

    With so many epiphanies, revelations, and inspirations, a pre-med’s path toward medicine sometimes sounds like a vision quest.  

    Realized is a fine word to use in small doses, as in, “During my time as a teaching assistant, I realized that my personal learning style was limiting my scope as an instructor.” In this case, there is a genuine shift in perspective and newfound self-awareness.   

    But if you overuse realized, you risk sounding naive, as if every small step in your life is a source of enlightenment.  

    7. Empathy, Compassion, Sensitivity (the feels)

    Personal statements often have a case of “the feels.” As in, “My empathetic nature provides me with the sensitivity needed to deliver compassionate care.”

    It’s hard to avoid these words altogether, since you often want to convey these qualities in your personal statement. Whenever possible, you should try to show these characteristics through your storytelling, so that you don’t overuse them. Phrases like cultural sensitivity or an empathetic listener will mean nothing to the reader without concrete proof to back it up.     

    8. I believe, I think, I feel, In my opinion (“throat clearing”)

    It’s your personal statement, so the reader already knows that what you’re saying is what you think. Pre-meds will often qualify their sentences: “I believe that medicine’s power lies in its constant discoveries.” We get it--you’re a novice in the medical field, and some of your readers will be doctors and medical students. You don’t want to sound arrogant, like you already know everything about medicine.

    However, in this case, you could easily drop the I believe that part of the sentence. The reader knows it’s your personal statement, so it’s already implied. “Medicine’s power lies in its constant discoveries” seems more like a fact than an opinion anyway. Few people would deny this assertion.

    You should make sure to establish a humble tone, but don’t waste too many characters with these unnecessary throat-clearing phrases.

    9. Help, Helps, Helped, Helping People    

    “Help!” is a great Beatles song, but a horrible word for your personal statement.

    “Helping people” is one of the biggest cliches in medical school admissions essays, and you should avoid it whenever possible.

    Help is a weak word on its own, and it’s even more annoying when attached to another verb, as in, “I helped deliver the patient from the ambulance to the clinic.”

    The best way to help yourself is to avoid this bogus word and save some characters in the process.  

    10. Additionally, Secondly, Finally, Overall, In conclusion

    It’s a desire for logic and order that drives a pre-med to overuse these transitional words and phrases. But they’re clunky and unnecessary. Instead of slapping one of these placeholders onto the beginning of a sentence, you should connect the ideas between the paragraphs instead. Here’s an example:

           ...Research improved my analytical skills and showed me the importance of adapting in the face of challenges.

           A few months later, I found myself shadowing a doctor in the emergency room.

    Research and the ER seem disparate, but all it takes is a little tweaking to build the needed bridge:

          ...Research improved my analytical skills and showed me the importance of adapting in the face of challenges.

    This ability to adapt came in handy during my time shadowing in the emergency room, where challenges presented themselves constantly and without warning.

    Here, we’ve nixed the lame transitional placeholders in favor of connecting the paragraphs through the idea of challenges. Simple, but much more effective for the flow while reinforcing the point of your story.  

    We hope this list will strengthen your writing style by removing the generic and extraneous fluff. In most cases, you should opt for the concise way of conveying a message. “Addition by subtraction” might sound counterintuitive, but it’s a mantra that will reap you rewards as a writer.