How to make my Application to Nursing School Standout?

Posted 15 March 2021

Blog tags: Employment


If you’re contemplating a career in nursing, it’s important to understand the process. Especially as it’s not as simple as applying for the average job.

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Qualifying to become a nurse takes time and commitment. And no small amount of study as all nurses require a degree in order to practice.

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However, competition to get onto a nursing degree programme is fierce. It’s easy to understand why. Universities want the very best as lives of future patients will be in the hands of you and your classmates.

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94% of graduates also go onto get a nursing job within 6 months of graduation. With career prospects that positive, it’s just another reason why nursing courses are so oversubscribed.

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Around 20,000 nurses graduate each year from their respective degree courses, from a pool of over 50,000 applicants. Which means 60% of all applicants fail to make the cut.

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Many potential nurses fail to make the cut at the interview stage – educators weeding out the candidates they don’t feel can cut it.

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That means you need to do all you can to help maximise your chances of getting on to your chosen nursing course.

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Below are some of the things you can do to help your Nursing application stand out.

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Get your Application Right

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As is the case for most university applications, a lot rides on your personal statement. It is the first time the university comes in to contact with you and first impressions count.

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Remember, your application is one of hundreds – if not thousands – the head of nursing or admissions officer will see.

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That means you need to not only be memorable but be able to sincerely and cogently explain why becoming a nurse means so much to you.

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You’ll need to cover why you’ve chosen the branch of nursing you have as well as demonstrate knowledge of nursing and healthcare.

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If you have relevant work or volunteer experience, include it where it’s appropriate. It’s very important you don’t exaggerate because should you be called to interview, they will quiz you.

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Alternatively – if practical experience is lacking – you can emphasise the research and independent learning you have carried out. This demonstrates your commitment to both your personal development and your future career.

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It’s also important to note that the course head or admissions officer isn’t looking for someone ready to hit the ward. They are looking for people who are passionate about nursing and helping others, who want to learn and are committed to their future career.

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Skills and Experience

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Communicating your skills and experience is essential to the success of your application. The experience doesn’t have to be directly involved in healthcare – it just needs to be relevant. This means you need to effectively demonstrate why your skills and experience is of benefit.

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The best way to do this is to provide contextual examples of how something you did benefited others. You would also do well to mention how these experiences shaped your decision to become a nurse.

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Additionally you need to be able to demonstrate you have the following essential skills:

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Advocacy

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Advocacy is a core part of a nurse’s responsibilities. Nurses are often required to advocate on behalf of the patient when discussing treatments with doctors and surgeons. They may also have to relay the patient’s wishes to family members who may not be in agreement. As a nurse you must be willing and able to stand your ground as – providing the patient has capacity – your role is to safeguard their wishes.

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Advocacy is specifically mentioned in the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) code so it’s very important that you include it in your personal statement.

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Examples of advocacy don’t need to be healthcare related. It’s more about demonstrating your ability to speak on behalf of others and act in their best interests and with their stated preference in mind.

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Communication

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Good communication can make the difference between a patient saved and a patient lost. It’s arguably one of the most important skills a nurse can possess.

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You need to be able to convey information quickly, accurately and clearly to colleagues, patients and family members so informed consent can be given and the right decisions are made.

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Where possible provide examples of effective communication in a professional setting. Instances where you have diffused a difficult situation or successfully communicated with someone who has challenges would serve you particularly well.

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Organisation

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The ability to organise yourself in a busy, high pressure environment is more or less essential when you’re a nurse. You need to be able to demonstrate how you organise yourself (and others) in a work setting. And – if possible – how you’re able to flex to the changing demands of the job while still achieving your objectives.

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That could be where you had to hit a tight deadline or co-ordinated the schedules of a team of people. You need to be able to demonstrate your time management and ability to self-organise as the ability to work independently is key.

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The most important thing to remember when talking about your skills is to provide an example for each, and then link it to how it will make you a better nurse.

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Evidence will also help the head of course feel confident that you’ll be able to do the work.

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Talk about your Future Nursing Career

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If you know what kind of nurse you want to be, include this in your statement.

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If you want to be a mental health nurse, then your focus should be around providing support for individuals with mental health issues. You should be able to talk about the support you could provide for a range of challenges ranging from mild depression to enduring and complex issues.

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Whatever area you see yourself going into, you should detail some of the professional development you might need in order to achieve your goals.

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If you don’t have a specific field in mind, that’s okay too. The head of course is looking for people with the right qualities and the potential to make great nurses.

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It’s better to say that you don’t yet have a clear idea of the kind of nurse you want to be, but you’re eager to learn and find the best fit for you.

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Before you Start your Application

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Before you start writing make sure you have researched the courses you’re applying for and that you meet the requirements for each.

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Make sure you meet both the UCAS word limit and any that the universities may impose separately.

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Check the submission deadline dates as late submissions won’t be considered. The more popular universities have been known to close applications early as they fill their places very quickly, so don’t leave it until the last minute.

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Your personal statement needs to be perfect so give yourself plenty of time to write your first draft so it can be edited and proofed. We recommend giving your application to a trusted third party to read through as well, just to make sure any mistakes are caught and corrected.

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Don’t use unfamiliar language in an effort to sound more academic. It will be obvious to the person reading it that you don’t know what you’re talking about and it will harm your chances.

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It also goes without saying that anything you write should be your own. UCAS has an archive of every application it has every received and cross references new applications against it. Anything suspicious is flagged and can be rejected.

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Start your Learning

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If you lack the qualifications you need to enrol on to your desired nursing degree course, learndirect Careers can help.

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To learn more about how an Access to Higher Education Diploma (Nursing) could get you into university, click the link below.


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