Essay: Why nursing?

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    I am working on an essay for an LPN program application. I know I am taking a risk by posting it here, it might really suck, you guys might say: "How is this relevant to why you want to be a nurse?" But I am really hoping I can get some good feedback to make this essay the best it can be. Please let me know what you think:
    Why do I want to be a nurse?

    I think my desire to help people started when I was quite young. I remember driving my mother and father crazy while I “treated” them with my doctor kits and band-aids. I even had an intensive care kit for my cabbage patch kids. Later, my grandmother got sick with diabetes and liver cancer. There was nothing I could do. I watched her go from a vibrant, fun person, who took me to dance class; to someone who had to wear wigs and couldn’t hold down a meal. I knew at eight years old that I was powerless to stop the monster that was destroying my grandmother from the inside out. Still, the experience stayed with me.

    Later, I watched my mother struggle to care for me and my sister as a single parent. She worked two menial, low paying jobs to barely keep the lights on. I knew two things; she didn’t deserve that, and I definitely didn’t want it for my life in the future. I did whatever I could to help her; watching my younger brother and sister, keeping the house clean, and trying to be supportive. There were many times that I was the glue that held our family together;many times that I helped her keep her head. I know that my mother prayed every night for some kind of help with bills and support. It finally came in the form of her dad, my grandfather. Unfortunately, this help came at a great price. At first, it was great to have a grandpa again, he helped mom with the bills and took us out to dinner, he bought us things that we couldn’t have afforded otherwise. We were very thankful for his help. What we didn’t know was my grandfather was a pedophile. I started getting suspicious when he would spend large amounts of time and money with my sister. They seemed very close, and I didn’t think too much about it at first. I wanted my sister to have a father figure to love her. Our dad didn’t. I didn’t want to see what was going on right in our faces. My mom was working all the time, so maybe she didn’t see it either. The abuse went on for two years. I wish that I would have noticed, or taken seriously the “jokes” my sister made about her and my grandfather. My grandfather was having problems with choking and getting food down. He was diagnosed with a hiatal hernia. While receiving treatment for the hernia, an x-ray was done that showed a mass on his lung. He was then diagnosed with lung cancer. He went through all of the radiation and chemotherapy, but the cancer metastasized to another part of his body. I was no longer living at home by that time, but I remember the call, I remember the shock. About a year later, I get a call from my mom that he didn’t have much longer and could I come home and take care of him? Of course I agreed. I will never forget how I felt when he came down the hall; a walking, talking skeleton! I mean, it was like something out of a horror movie!

    My heart dropped to the floor. I knew my mother was right. He was running out of time. What could he possibly need me for? I had no nursing knowledge. I had very little caregiver experience, other than a live in position with a diabetic, where I just made sure he took his meds and made meals for him. I found out that my “job” would just be to keep him company, keep him comfortable. I brought him drinks, made sure he had his oxygen cannula on, and sat listening to him talk for hours. I really had mixed feelings about the situation. I loved my grandfather, in spite of his flaws, and at the same time, I was ****** off because he raped my sister and threatened her life if she told anyone. I had moments where I thought, “I know what I’d like to do with your life!” Yet I never said a word to him about what happened.

    I talked to the nurses that came to see him a few times a week. They said it wouldn’t be hard to learn body mechanics and become a nurse’s aid. I was too scared. I was scared of doing harm. After my grandfather died, I went to my local community college to look at requirements for nursing school. It was daunting. I took the assessment tests and would have had to start at the bottom for math. I wasn’t ready. The dream did not die though.
    Ten years later I drummed up the courage to enroll in college classes. I was a single mom, just like my mother, but I didn’t want to struggle, and I wanted a better life for my daughter. I have been working on my pre-requisites for nursing since 2009, doggedly pursuing the coveted place in a nursing program. In this time, I have been homeless, living in hotels, in cars, on a city bus, in shelters, and finally, in transitional housing. When I say I “doggedly” pursued my goal, I am saying that I took hold of my dream like a Rottweiler and did not let go; no matter how many people hit me with a brick, and believe me, there were a lot of bricks.
    I think one of the qualities that makes a good nurse is tenacity. The ability to keep going no matter what is going on, to stay with a task, even when it seems you are failing. To never give up. You also need compassion, empathy, and a whole lot of good common sense.


    Ok, so this is my first draft. consider it a work in progress. Help if you can. I wait anxiously for your replies. Thanks.
  2. 13 Comments so far...

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    Wow, you have a good start. Very courageous story by the way. You have obviously been through a lot to get where you are now.

    I have not written an essay for nursing applications yet, but I consider myself a pretty good writer. I write for 2 professional newsletters and am a speech writer as part of my current job (I do real estate sales, marketing and fundraising. I have also won an award for this.)

    Not that there is anything "wrong", here are some tips that I could think of right now that I think might help improve...

    1. Try to use a different word other than "******"
    2. Your intro could use a little creativity. You go right into the story, but I think if you start off with something more unique, you have an opportunity to give a lasting first impression. They call it an 'attention getter'.
    3. Your conclusion leads me to want to know more. I think it would be awesome if you elaborate about what compassion, empathy, etc. mean to you personally. This would give more depth into who you are as a person, because so far most of your essay is just story.
    4. Also, I think you should explicitly state the essay topic as a response in the form of a thesis. It would help keep the main purpose of your story and essay in main focus.

    Again, these are just some tips I have. Other than that, you are doing good. I like how you write very clearly and to the point. Also very organized thought process. Good luck!
    Last edit by lauraline on Apr 12, '13
  4. 1
    This is a good first draft.

    I work at a community college and part of my job is to read essays for scholarship applicants. My recommendations are purely personal, you can take them or not. The best thing you can do is make your essay positive and memorable.

    1) Don't give your life story. I'd start the essay with your grandmother's illness and how that experience sparked your interest in helping people with health problems. The reader wants to know your interest in nursing, not your whole biography.

    2) Get rid of the cliches. They make an essay seem tired and less personal. Though I'd keep your last paragraph where you liken "doggedly" pursuing your dream to being like a Rottweiler. That's going to leave a strong, positive impression of you.

    3) I'd cut the information about your grandfather molesting your sister. It's very personal and I don't think it adds much to your compelling story about why you would be a great LPN. The reality is whoever is reading your application is going to categorize it. You want to be thought of as "the doggedly determined student" not the student whose grandfather was a child molester.

    4) Stress that you have been taking prerequisite classes since 2009 (mention your GPA if it's good or any classes that you especially like) while raising your child so that you can build a better future you and her. That shows that you have a big incentive to do well in your classes and in your future career.

    Good luck in applying to school. You have worked hard and I think you'll be successful as an LPN.
    Last edit by CDEWannaBe on Apr 12, '13
    Kdrenee likes this.
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    Thank you so much! I did think that maybe the horror story about my grandfather might be a bit much. I did want to emphasize caring for unpleasant people though. I will re-read the essay, and try to eliminate the clichés, as you suggest. The hardest part of writing for me has always been getting started. I have many stories in my head, I don't always know how to put them on paper.
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    Thank you for your input. I totally understand #1. I will look at the creativity angle. #3 Seems difficult. I will give it some espresso-charged thought. I am not sure I understand how to do the fourth suggestion. Do you mean " I want to be a nurse because..."? Also, what do you think about the pedophile grandpa? Should I take it out? I think it is important to show the struggle we sometimes face with our clients. When I was writing, my thoughts were that I wanted to illustrate the internal struggle between empathy and anger over what this person had done. One thing is sure, it is a work in progress!
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    I think you could perhaps write a thesis something along the lines of how the unique challenges you've faced in life allowed you to understand pain, the importance of recovery, and that your goal is to help others through healing, so you want to be a nurse. Just an idea, but I sense this is perhaps what you are trying to get at? I'm not sure about the whole grandfather thing, I would try to leave it out and see how the essay works without it. If anything, maybe you could just say your sister was sexually abused, and not have to mention the direct connection to your grandfather. Try it, see how it sounds without it. You can always change it. It's your story and only you know what's most important for you to share.
    Last edit by lauraline on Apr 14, '13
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    I think you should definitely take out the part about the grandpa. It detracts from the rest of your essay.
  9. 0
    Your essay is done well with the exception of the pedophilia story. Hugs and prayers to your sister. What she went through will stay with her for life and I am so sorry that it happened. Many people write very quality essays for school entrance applications that deal with the subject of rape or molestation - but they focus on how they overcame it, how they were able to go from victim to survivor to conqueror. Your essay does not use that story in such a way which is why it does not contribute to the purpose of the essay. Instead it reads like an unrelated tangent that makes me, the reader, wonder why you would agree to care for your grandfather in the first place after he did something so heinous. It doesn't make me see you as heroic for caring for somebody that is difficult. You don't need to emphasize the idea of caring for difficult patients. All caregivers (LPNs, RNs, CNAs, and lay caregivers) know that caregiving is a very difficult, taxing, exhausting job no matter how wonderful your patient is. Emphasize your time caregiving for your grandfather, contrasted with the time that you felt helpless for your grandmother and I think you'll have a quality essay that will highlight exactly why you want to be a nurse. Good luck to you!
  10. 0
    You have a great start! I know how hard it is while writing to not include something that is at the forefront of your mind. I have an issue with this even I write. As others said though the pedophile story takes away from who YOU are. This is all about you and how you can bring value to the school and the nursing industry. You're definitely in the right direction!
  11. 0
    Thanks so much! You are certainly right about the subject being at the front of my mind. It seems that I must write about that before I write about anything else! I think that it is one of the reasons I want to be a nurse though, I want to help people, especially women who have been in abusive situations. After I wrote this essay, I found out that I am supposed to be writing an entirely different one! I have started the new essay, and I hope my patient readers will indulge me once again. I should be finished in a week or two. Indeed, I will be writing on other matters that must be discussed, but I hope to find another outlet for them, perhaps an anonymous blog? Much cheaper than psychotherapy, lol. By the way, how do I turn a strong desire to help abused women into an essay about life goals for nursing school? I have started with my academic path thus far, and am not sure how to "get there"?


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