Recommendation for Personal Statement

  1. I need to write a personal statement for application to direct entry MSN. Does anyone have links, books, or other advice on writing one?

    I've been out of school for many years - I don't even know where to start.
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  2. 24 Comments

  3. by   arciedee
    I would start by brainstorming ideas. Why do you want to be a nurse? Why do you want to become a nurse by going through a direct-entry MSN program than by an ADN or BSN program? What do you picture yourself doing once you've graduated? What do you picture yourself doing in ten years? Twenty-five? Write your answers down and expand on them as much as you can. Write EVERYTHING down, even if it's something you know you would not include in an admissions essay. The process of expanding on your ideas may lead you to an even better idea. Once you've done this read through them and start to edit out things you definitely do not want to include or that you feel are inappropriate for the essay. Try to find a unifying theme or plot among what's left. Some more ideas:
    • Was there an experience(s) in your life that cemented your desire to be a nurse?
    • What else have you considered and why does nursing beat out those other options?
    • What does a nurse do? (Sounds silly, but direct-entry programs really want to know that you're not basing your decision on some romanticized notion that's not firmly based in reality.)
    • Do you want to go into advanced practice? Do you want to be an educator? Do you want to be an administrator? Why?
    • What are your strengths that will be valuable in nursing? What are your weaknesses and how do you expect them to impact you? How will you overcome them? How have you overcome adversity in the past?
    • Is there anything about your prior academic record that needs to be highlighted or explained?
    One note on the last one, if there is anything you want to explain (i.e. lower undergrad GPA, retakes of classes, etc.) be sure to address it briefly and move on unless it was part of a greater life change that has affected your decision. Don't waste a lot of time excusing your past. Address the present and the future and put it in as positive a light as possible.

    I hope this helped some. I definitely agonized over my essay and I'm still not sure it was the best prose I could produce, but I'm starting my direct-entry program in January!
  4. by   CrufflerJJ
    In my case, the program only wanted 1-2 paragraphs explaining why I wanted to go into nursing. Given my background, I didn't feel confident that I could both explain why, and "sing my praises" in just 1-2 paragraphs. My goal statement ended up being a full page (5 paragraphs). It must have worked - I was accepted to the program!

    You should include:
    - discussion of your past job experience - what major things has it taught you, but what's been lacking that draws you to nursing

    - what strengths you have developed as a result of your past work experience

    - why nursing - how/why do you like working with people

    - have you had many interactions with nurses - if so, what about that interaction has drawn you to this field

    - what will nursing do for you, and what will nursing allow you to do as a person/caregiver

    I was lucky to have a wonderful wife, who worked with me for a month or more on my goal statement. Don't shortcut this process. You not only have to explain why you want to gain admission to your favorite program, but why they should admit YOU. Sell yourself - explain what sets you apart from the others, what have you done in your life to show that you will succeed in the direct admit MSN program.
  5. by   lc3
    There are some great suggestions here! I just have one more thing to add. If your direct-entry asks for you to chose a specific speciality, then I would also address why you decided on that area. I would also let them know your passion for the specific area. These programs really want you to be able to convey your passion for your chosen area.

    -Lc
  6. by   mvanz9999
    Quote from lc3
    There are some great suggestions here! I just have one more thing to add. If your direct-entry asks for you to chose a specific speciality, then I would also address why you decided on that area. I would also let them know your passion for the specific area. These programs really want you to be able to convey your passion for your chosen area.

    -Lc

    Thank you for all the advice. The only thing that truly upsets me is this last post. I do have to pick a specialty...which to me...why would you be asked to choose a specialty in a direct entry program? I have very little experience in hospitals, and certainly nothing in the nursing arena. I really have no idea where I would most like to be. Peds? Family? Geriatrics? Psych?

    I cannot even really tell the difference between a NP and a CNS. So to compound the problem, if I choose geriatrics, do I want NP or CNS?

    Well, maybe something will come to me over the holiday. . . . .
  7. by   romie
    One of the points of a direct entry program is they are designed to attract people who really know what they want to study, have a realistic idea of the role of an advance practice nurse and have a clear picture of what they will be doing in the future. A direct entry program really isn't for people who are simply exploring the possiblity of being a nurse or who want to do bedside nursing as an ADN nurse.

    As far as deciding between NP or CNS, you will have to look at the states that you plan on working in and what role you would like to have. For example, if I stay in IL, it doesn't matter if I go the CNS or NP route as both are considered equal advance practice roles in IL. However, since I am planning on practicing out on the west coast and I think the NP route with be most efficacious. In addition, for my program there is hardly a difference in the coursework of the NP vs. CNS.

    From personal experience, few of my colleges in the direct entry program have "hospital experience" per se, but many of them have advanced degrees in sociology, psychology and public health. The point isn't to have nursing experience, because it is direct entry and they will give you the nursing experience you need. It is important, however, to have some kind of experience that at least affirms for you that you really want to do this (be it volunteering, research). Drop out rates for direct entry programs are very low because admission committees are very good at selecting only those students who really want to do it and really know what they want to do.

    Some programs are selective based on speciality and some specialities are naturally more competitive than others. For example, Family NP and Pediatric NP tend to be highly competitive, whereas Occupational Health NP or Public Health NP less so. Something to keep in mind.
  8. by   lc3
    Sorry, I just mentioned specific speciality areas because most direct entry programs specialist master's programs. The direct entry programs that I applied to asked for specific area that you want to go in to. The admissions committee then accepts you based on your fit with that area and other criteria. Additionally, some direct entry programs would like you to have some exposure to healthcare and include that in your personal statement to demostrate your passion for that area. I am personally speaking from my own experience on the whole application process. Overall, it has worked well for me and have been contacted from all three schools that I applied to for interviews.

    Direct-entry programs are mainly designed for individuals that know they want to be an NP/CNS in a specific speciality unless you do a direct-entry program that is generalist master's degree.

    IMHO, I would suggest looking into accelerated BSN programs if you are unsure of an whether a NP/CNS and what area. That way you can try out different specialities before you jump into a masters.

    Anyhow, good luck.
    Last edit by lc3 on Dec 17, '06
  9. by   mvanz9999
    lc3: thank you. i don't think i've heard anyone put it quite like that. while the programs are for non-nursing majors, they really aren't designed for i/t guys with no hospital exposure.

    see...my parents are in healthcare, and in the late 90s, i tried to get into med school and didn't get accepted. i spent a couple of years taking pre-meds and then applied, applied, applied, applied and didn't get accepted. i still have a stong interest in health care and in science in general, but i have no desire to go to med school at this age, nor do i want to spend 2-3 years re-taking premeds, retaking the mcat, only to maybe/maybe-not get in.

    i have looked at nursing for a long time, i know a lot of nurses. my own mother is one as well. the problem with the accelerated bsn programs is that they have so many requirements, i would need to spend 3-4 years taking pre-reqs before started the accelerated bsn anyway. so essentially an accelerated bsn would take me at least 4 years, probably more as i cannot attend full time. in addition, the money for that is a nightmare. since i have outstanding loans from my pre-meds, i really cannot take that much money out for another bachelors.

    finally, i refuse to participate in the silly lottery adn programs, which is why i turned to the direct-entry masters. but despite my questioning the program and looking at all the requirements, it seems that direct-entry programs are really setup for people who already have a large amount of exposure to the nurse setting and are very comfortable knowing exactly what they want and in what area they wish to practice.

    despite the nonsense i can spew, i suspect that the admissions comittee will see that i have very little clinical exposure and that whatever i spew forth about my goals, they will likely see that i am just mouthing off some nonsense, since my goals are not actually supported by any real-life experience.

    both of the direct entry programs have a 99% graduation rate. they also have a very high acceptance rate. when i asked why this was so, they indicated that most adults who apply are, as you said, very sure about what they want to do and if the program was right for them, even before they applied.

    this is somewhat of a disappointment to me. it seems that i may have gone about this all wrong and that the reality is the direct entry msn programs are not really a viable option for me. i kinda feel like i ought to drop my a&p class and scrap the whole idea before wasting any more of my much needed money.

    hm....i'm gonna sleep on this one.:uhoh21:
  10. by   arciedee
    mvanz9999, if you are sure that you want to do nursing but are not sure where you want to specialize I would definitely recommend acclerated BSN programs or direct-entry generalist MSN degrees. I am actually doing the latter; my degree will be in clinical nurse leadership. I will not have advanced-practice privileges when I graduate, I will basically be a masters prepared bedside nurse, but after a few years the MSN will allow me some greater flexibility in my career. I also anticipate that I will go back at some point for a post-grad certificate to become an NP/CNM once I have enough experience to make a truly educated decision on where I want to specialize.

    When you were applying to medical schools didn't you need to have some sort of healthcare experience (volunteering/shadowing/etc.) to speak to on your personal statement? If not, this is the time to get it. Volunteer at your local hospital, talk to the nurses and tell them what you want to do. Or look into CNA courses. Talk to your classmates and find out what they're doing, how they got interested. Network.
  11. by   mvanz9999
    Actually, I did spend a few months volunteering in the ER. I was looking more at the doctors than the nurses though. I also volunteer for a camp for children who have (or had) cancer. It is through this program that I know a lot of nurses.

    For medical school, I new I most likely wanted to be a surgeon, but as you know, you spend a great deal of time rotating through specialties, after which you decide where you fit.

    I'm really not liking this "choose your specialty when you apply" thing. Maybe I'll end up at a different school.
  12. by   arciedee
    I definitely understand your thought process... I had looked into med school at one point myself and remember reading how many students went in thinking they wanted to do one thing, but after 3rd year clerkships discovered their passion in something else. My BFs brother is actually going through that now... was pretty sure he wanted to do internal med but LOVED his recent peds rotation and is considering that instead. This is a big part of the reason that I decided not to go for direct-entry for NP. I know that it is extremely difficult to switch specialties once you're in one of those programs and I was worried that during pre-licensure clinicals I'd find that I actually wanted to go into a different field.

    If you're in Chicago I know that there is a direct-entry CNL program (similar to what I am doing) at DePaul University. There might be more in that area and there are definitely others around the country.
  13. by   mvanz9999
    What is CNL?

    My only reservation about DePaul is the absurd cost. The tuition alone for the Masters (general) is $49,000. Then you've got the post-master's certificate, which is around another $12,000. I'm looking at $61,000 for tuition alone.

    My sister only paid $40,000 for law school. She's got a WAAAAAAY higher earning potential than any nurse.
  14. by   arciedee
    CNL stands for clinical nurse leader. It's a fairly new designation, but it seems that many schools that offer it have direct-entry as an option. I only suggested DePaul as I noticed that your location is listed as Chicago and I know at least one other poster on this board is attending that program. Just throwing it out there as an option.

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