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Np Personal Statements

Hello. In full disclosure, I am posting this for a friend who is applying to a nurse practitioner program. She is unable to post this week and the application is due on 9/1. Her personal statement does not have a specified length, but must answer the question: What is your objective? Her essay will accompany her application vitae, transcripts and three letters of recommendation. Thank you in advance for any and all feedback!

I grew up in a rural community close to the Kansas/Nebraska border. My upbringing developed my core beliefs of community, family, loyalty, compassion and honesty. It also taught me that all things worthwhile require hard work. Becoming a Nurse Practitioner through the <school> will prove challenging and intense, but has the lifelong reward of a career that has meaning and value to me. My goal is to move back to my hometown to fill a gap in access to primary care due to the impending retirement of the community's two beloved doctors.

My interest in nursing started during middle school, when I volunteered as a candy striper in a long term care facility. Over three summers, I learned a lot about healthcare, nurturing, and empowerment. I also discovered through the interactions with the residents how therapeutic and comforting an encouraging smile, a friendly conversation and a helpful hand could be. I established strong relationships with several of the residents. I especially treasured my time with Rosie, a bubbly 86 year old resident. She showed me that helping others is one of life's greatest gifts. For that wisdom, I will always be grateful.

Eager to learn more, I shadowed a Nurse Practitioner during her daily rounds at a Women's Clinic, observing her genuine caring as she completed routine tests and exams. She proved she knew as much about the person as she did about the health concern; I was impressed by the connection she had with each of her patients. My experience took an unexpected turn about midday when I participated in the labor and delivery of a baby to a mother that was my age (sixteen). The mother and her family quickly accepted me into their world as I spent hours at the mother's bedside, feeding her ice chips, providing comforting words and holding her hand during contractions. As the delivery neared, I stepped away to make room for the medical team. However, the mother was quick to call me back to her side asking me to help her hold her legs as she delivered. It was at that moment that I realized the connection I had made with her, even though I was a complete stranger only hours before. This experience solidified my desire to pursue nursing.

My nursing journey has been in steps that have worked well for me. I remember my excitement on the last day of RN orientation. However, upon arriving I learned that I was going to be taking six patients on my own, and apprehension quickly set in. It took a few minutes for me to compose myself, then I said, "Okay, where do I start?" As the day progressed, my confidence grew with every task that I completed. As I entered Room 12 on my final round for the shift, I noticed my patient was unresponsive and her lips were blue. Yelling for help, I moved to her bedside and pushed the code blue button. Training and instinct immediately took over and my adrenaline was surging. No pulse. No breathing. No responsiveness. I started chest compressions as the room filled with the medical team, silently praying it would all be enough. But it wasn't. After 47 minutes, it all stopped. As difficult as it was to lose the patient, speaking to the family was even harder. After the physician left, I stayed with the family holding the daughter's hand as they reminisced with memories of their loved one. Through tears, laughter, and heartache, together we began the healing process and provided closure to one another.

I love being a nurse, but recognize my yearning for more. An advanced degree will increase my overall understanding of the science of nursing and provide an opportunity to research rural nursing issues as a means of improving the health of at-risk rural populations. Advanced nursing will give me the professional latitude to diagnose, prescribe, and manage the overall care of a patient including emphasis on prevention and education throughout the patient's lifespan. Providing this advanced care in my hometown will allow me to develop close knit bonds with my patients and their families and be able to give back to the community that has given so much to me.

My upbringing, work and education thus far have helped define who I am, and who I would like to become. I have selected your program because of your excellent academic reputation, your dedication to current and future research and your commitment to educating healthcare providers serving in rural communities. I feel I am ready to succeed in your program - mentally, financially, and academically - and that I have the skills necessary to excel.

Thank you for considering my application.


Applying to a Nurse Practitioner Program

Advice from UCLA, UCI and Cal State admissions staff

By Carole Jakucs, RN, BSN, PHN

Have you been thinking about applying to a nurse practitioner program, but not yet done so because you feel intimidated by the whole process? Perhaps you’re wondering if your GPA is high enough, whether you have enough experience or if you might have a little too much. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the requirements and talk to decision-makers from several local NP programs about what they’re really looking for from applicants.


Most schools’ websites list each program’s admission requirements, which can vary from school to school. In general, most NP programs expect applicants to have a GPA of 3.0 or higher; an active California RN license; and a bachelor’s degree, usually a BSN. (A few schools will consider applicants with some other bachelor’s degree, but that’s not the norm.)

NP programs are graduate-level — they confer a master’s degree — so some schools also require applicants to take the GRE or other graduate pre-admission tests. Some schools do not.

Be aware that some NP programs require that you have completed certain prerequisite courses within the past three to five years. If that’s true of the program to which you’re applying, you might need to retake and pass one or more science classes before you even apply to the NP program.


• Apply to multiple schools. Unless you’re dead-set on a particular program, consider applying to several schools rather than just one or two. This is especially important if the programs in which you’re interested are very popular or if you’re on a tight timetable for your educational pursuits. Don’t put your plans on hold just because you didn’t get into your first-choice school.

• Turned down? Try again. If you don’t get into a program on your first go-around, don’t let that stop you from trying again the following year. Not getting in could just mean that the program had a lot of applicants, which raises the bar for admissions. The size and quality of the applicant pool often varies, so an application that didn’t quite make it this year might be a shoo-in next time around.

• Improve your chances. If you do need to wait and try again, use that time to make yourself a stronger candidate. For example, if you know you need to retake a prerequisite, go ahead and do it now even if the program you want doesn’t require it.
the admissions view

Working Nurse spoke with three different graduate NP programs in Southern California to gain additional insights about the application process and what criteria schools use for their admission decisions.


What are you looking for in NP applicants?

Susan Tiso, DNP, FNP-BC

Clinical Professor, Nursing Science, and Associate Director, M.S./Nurse Practitioner Program
University of California, Irvine, Program in Nursing Science

We like to see applicants with a background in areas of nursing that require them to make independent decisions and utilize critical thinking skills. We also look at various other elements such as an applicant’s work experience (both the type and the length); their GPA; their letters of recommendation; if they’ve served in any professional organizations or hospital committees; if they’ve received awards; if they’ve had any articles published in scholarly journals or other health-related publications; if they’ve done any public speaking or have given classes about health in the community; and if they have any specialty certifications.

Janet Mentes, APRN, Ph.D., BC, FGSA, FAAN
Section Chair, Acute and Chronic Health Sciences
UCLA School of Nursing

In general, we’re looking for people who understand the role of an NP. Many applicants have worked in tertiary facilities and may be great bedside nurses, but the transition into the role of an NP can be a big hurdle for many students. The advanced practice role requires a different mindset: As an NP, you have total responsibility for the patient; you are writing the orders, not just implementing them.

Ron Norby, BSN, MN
Assistant Director, School of Nursing, and Director, Graduate Program
California State University, Long Beach

We are looking for a well-rounded individual: someone who has done well in their undergraduate program; has functioned as a nurse and has done well; and whose letters of reference reflect someone who is respected for their expertise, abilities and professionalism. Of course, applicants must meet our prerequisite requirements and have a 3.0 GPA in their undergraduate studies. Right now, we also require a score of 4.0 on the English writing (analytical portion) of the GRE. Applicants must hold an unrestricted California nursing license.


Do both work experience and GPA carry equal weight?

Tiso – UCI

We require that our applicants have a minimum of one year of full-time nursing (RN) experience. We prefer they have three to 10 years of RN experience.

We also look at the type of work experience. We consider RNs from a variety of backgrounds, but applicants that tend to do better are those with work experience in the ER, ICU or public health. We generally find that nurses with experience in these areas have a higher comfort level in independent decision-making — a necessary skill for success as an NP student and a practicing NP.

We also look at GPA; we value a strong academic background. The last two years of your BSN program — your upper-division nursing classes — carry more weight than lower-division grades.

Mentes – UCLA
We don’t mandate work experience and we look for a diverse body of candidates. We give equal weight to GPA, the personal statement and the applicant’s experience. However, most of our applicants have two to five years of experience. The students who typically do well in our program have a few years of experience as an RN.

Norby – CSULB

We don’t require work experience, but obviously, without it, the letters of reference will be pretty thin, so it is considered. GPA is important because it suggests that the individual has the discipline to undertake collegiate study and do well. Starting this year, we will also be interviewing all potential students and having them work with other applicants to complete a group exercise in order to evaluate their communication skills, critical thinking and ability to function on a team.

So, in reality, all these factors are important: GPA, GRE, prerequisites, application, essay, letters of reference and interview. While we use a rubric to score these things and some are weighted more heavily than others, doing very poorly in a particular area might impact a potential student’s competitiveness.


What key elements do you look for in an applicant’s personal statement/essay?

Tiso – UCI

We look for appropriately structured sentences, proper grammar and correct spelling. Also, the statement needs to be organized, well thought out and illustrate the trajectory the applicant wants to take with their career as an NP and why. For instance, if your father had prostate cancer and was cared for by a great NP and that inspired you to become an NP and go into men’s health, let us know that.

Mentes – UCLA

The key is to know what you are applying for, understand the role and let that guide you in writing your personal statement. I want to see if the applicant understands the role of an NP and what they want to do with their advanced degree. Why did they choose their particular specialty?

For instance, if they have a background as a pediatric RN, but are now applying for an adult/gerontology NP program (which provides care for patients 18 years of age and up), what prompted the switch? In what areas do they want to work once they have their degree? What are their goals with regard to the NP role? How well does the applicant talk about their strengths and how they wish to build upon them in the NP role?

Norby – CSULB

The essay is important because there is a lot of scholarly writing in our program. When we assess the essay, we look at how well applicants write, including their ability to succinctly and logically present ideas, the overall flow of the essay and the grammar. We particularly look at the details they present, how they talk about themselves, their vision of the nursing profession and what they think they can contribute as an NP.


Do you have any other advice for prospective NP students?

Tiso – UCI

It is helpful for students to have their lives in order prior to beginning an NP program. School is a challenge and requires a huge commitment of time and flexibility with your schedule. Organize your life as best as you can before you start, from personal finances to family obligations — it will help to make the transition into school a bit smoother.

Remember to submit an up-to-date C.V. that highlights any awards and leadership roles you’ve had, such as being chosen as employee of the month or serving on a committee at your facility. We like to see applicants who have taken on leadership positions rather than someone who simply works their shift and then goes home.

Also, remember that your letters of recommendation are important. If someone writes a lukewarm letter, that’s a red flag. Think carefully about whom you choose as your references.

If you have questions about our application process, you can always check out the Nursing Science Program website (www.nursing.uci.edu) or contact Student Affairs. Faculty are also happy to meet prospective students and answer questions.

Mentes – UCLA

Understanding the role of a nurse practitioner as well as the specialty is very important. Also, prior to applying, applicants are strongly encouraged to attend one of the information sessions offered by the UCLA Student Affairs Office. These sessions provide general information about the application process, so if you have questions, they can usually be answered. Faculty members from each specialty program are present at these info sessions and can provide students with valuable insights into the various specialties prior to applying. Applicants can also visit the admissions section of the School of Nursing website, www.nursing.ucla.edu.

Norby – CSULB

Do the homework before applying. Clearly understand what you are seeking and the role as it exists in the reality of practice.

Speak with nurse practitioners who have been around for a while in the specialty that interests you. Find out what they do, the patient populations they serve and what the work actually entails. Talk to them about work/life balance and see what they would do differently.

Look carefully at the curriculum for the program, the content that will be presented, the credit units, the ability to work while going to school and how your life might need to change if you enter the program. You will have heavy-duty work ahead of you with school and studies; this requires a lot of time. Understand that you will be sacrificing time with your family and for other activities.

Don’t apply for the wrong specialty just because someone tells you that it will be more marketable. There are many good jobs out there, so don’t undertake the family nurse practitioner program if your passion is caring for children. Instead, apply for the pediatric NP program.

Take the time to carefully complete the application, check your work and present yourself in the best possible light. Also, get the prerequisites out of the way before you apply.

Make sure your references are from solid, professional people who know your expertise and passion. Letters from friends or your pastor are not viewed as positively as a letter from someone that you have worked with intimately who can speak to your specific nursing accomplishments.

This article is from workingnurse.com.

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