VERY Untraditional student needs advice on essay please

  1. [FONT="Arial"][FONT="Arial Black"]This is the day I[FONT="Arial Black"] have decided to write my essay for graduate school. I have to write a personal statement of my professional goals and how the master of science in nursing program at this university will help me achieve them. I just don't know how to do this. I am a VERY untraditional applicant. If you haven't heard my story before, here it is. If you have heard it before, please bear with me.

    After many months and lots of advice on allnurses.com, I have decided what I am going to do with my second career. This is my history. I will try to shorten it as much as I can. I graduated with a BSN, worked for two years as a school nurse teacher, worked for 25 years as an elementary school teacher (why is another story lol), received an MA in ed. plus 24 post graduate ed credits-all A's. I retired a few years ago and took a med surg refresher course with sime psych rotations. I loved psych in nursing school, but at that time I wanted to work with children. I loved the psych rotations in the refresher course. After i graduated from the refresher course, which had a lot of clinicals including doing meds, I had surgery for a prolapsed rectum. A total abdominal resection was done. A few months later I had emergency surgery for a blockage caused by adhesions. I now have a nerve problem causing pain. I am going to a pain clinic, receiving physical therapy, and the prognosis is good. SO I decided to apply for my MS in psychiatric nursing where I would end up being a psych nurse practitioner. I would like to work on this online while I am recovering. I will also be working as a volunteer at a crisis center hotline. Then when I am recovered enough, I will get a part time job as a staff psych nurse and continue working on my degree. Then when I graduate I will see if I can find a job as a psychiatric nurse practitioner. Do I explain all this in my essay? My other problem is that I am not sure what exactly I want to do in psych. I am interested in child psych including working with autistic children and children with developmental problems, chemical dependency, and the emergency psych depart. Do I put all these things in the essay? Do I give my entire untraditional story or just be vague and tell the areas I am interested in. Do I need a detailed explanation of why I am interested in these particular areas? My deadline for writing this is coming near. I really need some professional opinions. Thank you in advance.
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  2. 6 Comments

  3. by   HealthyRN
    Hi Krissy,

    I am actually trying to work on my essay for grad school also. I am applying to a psych mental-health CNS program. I am having difficulty because I am going into this straight out of undergrad and I don't have a lot of life experience to draw upon. You have an advantage there! I don't know that I would put everything you talked about in your essay because the admissions committee is not looking for a life story. However, I would definitely talk about your work as a school teacher and how that influenced you. Maybe you could connect something that you seen in your work as a teacher that prompted you to pursue this program.

    I would not talk about your experiences as a volunteer or plans to work as a staff nurse because that is not directly related to your ultimate career goals of being a psych NP. Also, it could be on other areas of the application. And you haven't actually done it yet. I would pick one area of specialization and go with that, even though you aren't actually sure what you want to do after graduating. The admissions committee wants to see that you are focused and have a goal. They are astute enough to realize that this goal will likely change by graduation.

    Focus on your career and academic goals and motivations for choosing this program. I think that you have a lot of good experience on which to base your essay. Good luck!

    ~Katy
  4. by   krisssy
    Katy, thanks so much for your help. I remember talking to you in the past. I didn't know that you were interested in psych.

    Yes, I did talk a lot about my teaching experience in the essay and how it would help me in my present career goals. I didn't go into the operations or any of that personal stuff. The only reason I wanted to mention that I wanted to work as a volunteer and then a staff nurse in psych is because many people on allnurses.com have told me that I need working experience before I could be a nurse practitioner?????????? but then many other nurses also said it wasn't necessary. What do you think? Are you going to be working in psych as a staff nurse while going for your graduate degree?

    Thanks.

    Krisssy
  5. by   HealthyRN
    Hi Krissy,

    I know there is a large controversy concerning should one have significant RN experience in an area before pursing advanced practice. That will probably never be settled and people will always have their opinions. My nursing professors have all assured me that significant RN experience is not necessary to be a successful advanced practice nurse in psych. I don't have a reason to believe that they would lie to me! Although many nurses may not like the idea of this, direct entry programs (where a student with a BA in another discipline fast-track to RN and MSN) have been around for a quite a few years and patient outcomes do not seem to be adversely affected. I've been told that advanced practice is a great deal different from RN nursing level of care.

    I do believe that having RN experience will be helpful and I do plan to work part-time as a staff nurse while pursing my master's degree. I would like to have a job in psych, and hopefully things will work out. The only problem I can foresee about having no experience as a staff nurse may come when you try to get a job after graduation. I've looked at a lot of job descriptions and many do want some experience as an RN. However, I've also seen many positions offering openings to new grads with no experience necessary. Psych NP/CNS are in fairly high demand in my area.

    The only reason why I thought you may not want to put the volunteer/job info in the essay is that you haven't really done it yet. If you think it fits though, I would go for it!
    ~Katy
  6. by   Selke
    I wouldn't talk about your health problems -- those are not the school's business. After acceptance, if you need special accomodations, I'd bring it up then, but it sounds like you don't need them. Schools may have different requirements on this, and the American Disabilities Act can be invoked for protection as well. If you're working as an RN now you should be OK.

    Your experience as a teacher is invaluable and I'd talk about that and how it influenced you to become a psych nurse and how this experience will help you be a great psych nurse practitioner. Talk about other things you are currently doing in your life that will help you be a psych NP, like pertinent volunteer work, research interests, &c. Talk concretely about the kind of practice you want to be in as an NP, and how this academic program can help you accomplish this. If your program requires research of some sort, I'd include a tentative research proposal or area of psych nursing. Try to relate this to what kind of practice you envision having post graduation.

    You say you want to enroll in a distance program -- this might eliminate social dissonance being an older person returning to school, with health problems, in a graduate program which most likely has lots of young people in it with very different backgrounds than yours.

    Good luck!
  7. by   krisssy
    I got in! I will be starting at the University of Missouri-Columbia Sinclair School of Nursing Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner's Program this winter. Thanks for your help! Krisssy
  8. by   Selke
    Congratulations! I'm so happy for you! Your school is lucky to have such an awesome candidate. You have so much to offer your future patients. You'll be a wonderful psych NP. Good luck!

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