How to Write an Admission Essay for Nursing School
The nursing school admission process is rigorous. One of the critical requirements for new applicants is an application essay, and writing a compelling nursing essay will give you a major head start over other nursing school candidates.
Once you have figured out why you want to be a nurse, all your memories, accomplishments, ambitions, and goals will align. Therefore, writing an essay on why you are interested in becoming a nurse and selecting a specific nursing college or university allows the admissions team to understand why they should choose you over other candidates.
A well-written, organized, and polished nursing school essay automatically increases your chances of acceptance. With thousands of applications destined for assessment and judgment by the admissions committee, you would want to make your application essay for the nursing school admission stand out.
We have admission essay-writing experts and consultants who, luckily, have compiled this intensive guide to help you write an intentional, focused, and perfect essay for nursing school.
Note: If you are in a hurry or you need direct assistance in writing your nursing college essay, please place an order and let our expert essay writers craft for you an original, engaging, and compelling nursing essay!
What Is a Nursing School Essay?
A nursing school essay is a written piece that demonstrates your interest in a nursing career and elaborates why you are the perfect fit for a specific nursing program.
Most nursing schools (colleges and universities) require aspiring students to write an application essay for nursing school admission. It is a personal essay submitted as part of the application process, which the admission officers review to determine if you can be accepted.
A good nursing school essay shows your interest in the nursing field, your chosen career path, why you want to pursue your nursing education through a specific nursing school program, and why you believe you should be accepted into the institution. It has to show why the entire process is crucial to you and why you are a worthy candidate to select for the nursing school program.
Sometimes, it is the only hope one has left, especially if the competition is stiff. Imagine a situation where the application materials such as grades, resumes, test scores, or recommendation letters are all qualified; a nursing school essay will be the only means to select the best out of the rest fairly.
Writing a perfect nursing essay will demonstrate that you are ready to go down the thorny path of training to become a nurse. Nursing education entails research and writing assignments, and a well-written essay demonstrates your readiness.
Helpful Information to Include in a Nursing Admission Essay
You are probably wondering what goes into an application essay for nursing school admission. Well, your nursing essay will answer an essay prompt from the university. Most colleges will specify the essay questions for college of nursing applicants for various levels of study (MSN, DNP, BSN, Ph.D., or ADN).
Below are some examples of what might be expected:
- Your goals and ambitions for a successful nursing career
- How do you plan to achieve your academic goals
- The specific reasons why you want to join the nursing field
- Reasons you are selecting the particular nursing school or program
- Personal accomplishments that set you apart as the right candidate
- Experiences and encounters that make you love nursing career
- Plans for the future once accepted
- Experience with medical training or patient care
- Character traits aligned to being a nurse
- How you are prepared to become a successful nurse
- Academic, personal, and career interests
- Any other reasons to convince the admissions committee to approve your admission
In some quarters, a nursing school application essay might be a statement of purpose, personal essay, or letter of intent. It is a chance to plead with the admissions committee to accept you into your dream nursing college or program. Having looked at what goes into it, it is also essential to cover the steps to writing a perfect and comprehensive admission essay for nursing school.
Structure of a Nursing School Essay
A nursing essay for admission into a nursing program or school follows the typical format of an academic essay. It is organized into three main sections: introduction, body, and conclusion.
- This is the opening paragraph that has to impress your readers (admissions officers)
- It can make or break your admission essay or personal statement
- It should be direct to the point
- It is a roadmap that helps the readers to know what to expect as your story grows.
- Open it using an enticing quote, event, anecdote, or statement
- You are allowed to use personal pronouns such as I in the introduction and the rest of the essay
- It has 2- 3 and sometimes five paragraphs
- Elaborates the introduction
- Every paragraph has a unique opening sentence that is a mini-thesis statement.
- Bears the best ideas yielded in your brainstorming session
- It can be as long as your word limit allows but contributes to at least 70-80% of the word count
- Focuses on quality over quantity
- Has one idea or experience per paragraph
- You should mention the skills you intend to develop and how they will help you become a successful nurse
- Connect the skills and experiences to the program and your future career
- Summarize and emphasize the main ideas
- It should be captivating and insightful
- Conveys a sense of closure to the readers
- Invites the readers to reflect on the ideas in your essay
- Creates one last lasting impression on the readers
Outline for a Nursing School Essay
A good nursing school essay outline should give you directions that help you visualize what the essay will look like in its final draft.
If you are writing a nursing essay, having the outline is the first thing you do after brainstorming (as shown in the steps).
It helps you to figure out how to arrange the ideas and points in the essay for a better flow. You can develop each section independently, regardless of the sequence, and still have a quality essay.
In most cases, the outline is meant for personal consumption, especially when writing a personal statement. However, if you are writing a nursing essay on a given nursing topic , you might be required to write an outline, annotated bibliography , and the nursing essay , and each will be graded separately.
Given the structure, you can outline your nursing school essay as follows:
- Hook (quote, statement, or anecdote)
- Background information
- Thesis statement
- Transition sentence
Body paragraph 1
- Topic sentence
- Evidence, data, and facts
- Transition to the second body paragraph
Body paragraph 2
- Transition to the third body paragraph
Body paragraph 3
- Transition to the conclusion
- Summary of the main ideas
- Restate the thesis statement
- Last impression (call to action to the admissions committee)
Steps for Writing a Nursing School Essay
Optimizing your application essay increases your chance of getting accepted into the nursing program or nursing school. The essay should elaborate on your person (who you are as an individual) by providing a comprehensive perspective of your career ambitions, goals, and plans related to your passion for nursing. You should elaborate to the admissions committee why you are a good fit for their nursing program. Students at the ADN, BSN, ABSN (Accelerated BSN), MSN, DNP, or Ph.D. might be required to write an admission or personal essay, and here are the five steps to make it successful.
- Read the prompt
- Brainstorm for ideas
- Plan your essay
- Write the first draft
- Edit and Polish your Essay
Let's explore all these steps before delving into the tips to help you write the essay better.
Read the Prompt
If you are considering applying to a specific nursing school, you need to begin by researching the application process to know when you will be expected to submit your application essay.
In most cases, the nursing schools have essay prompts and instructions for the potential nursing candidates published on their websites. The prompts might vary depending on the programs you are interested in pursuing and the institutional preferences. Therefore, it is vital to begin by locating the nursing school essay guidelines. A quick search online can help, or you will also find it enclosed in the email sent to you by the school's admissions committee.
Read the instructions thoroughly with a specific focus on the essay question, word limit, and topics you must cover. If you apply to many nursing schools, you should locate and read each prompt before moving to the next steps.
Reading and understanding the instructions is the first step in writing an excellent application essay. Besides, it helps you to customize the essay to the requirements and not the other way around.
Brainstorm for Ideas
Now that you know what is expected of you, you need to decide what to include in your nursing essay to make it stand out. For this, get into an idea-generation marathon where you brainstorm ideas based on the prompt and the requirements.
Give every idea a thoughtful consideration and make shorthand notes so that you have all the ideas condensed. Consider your ambitions, accomplishments, drive, passion, preferences, strengths, weaknesses, character traits, and other attributes that might relate to your urge to pursue nursing as a career.
Also, research the nursing program and relate it to your personal ambitions and desires. Such information will help you spot the specific things you like about it. You can then tailor your experiences and encounters to the requirements. Look at the program's website and examine 2-3 aspects that stand out. This will help you focus on what you have that makes you the best pick for the program. You can also reference experiences, events, or traits related to the program.
Consider the environment and people around you and relate them to your desire to become a nurse.
Experiences, encounters, and events can inspire ideas to pen into your nursing school essay.
You can also research some well-written examples of nursing personal statements and essays to get inspired when brainstorming ideas for yours. Besides, you can also ask people in your network, such as family, friends, or peers, for ideas that can stand out and then choose the best.
To get the most robust ideas, rate them depending on how best they answer the prompt; this is the fodder for the entire application essay. Choose 3-5 strongest points and make them the central focus of your essay.
Plan your Essay
As a nurse, planning is everything, even when it comes to clinical decision-making. And because you are destined for this noble career, planning your personal essay won't hurt. Instead, it helps you know what to put and where to engage the admission officers from the beginning to the end of your nursing school essay.
With the ideas in mind, create a rough outline and adjust it until you are fully satisfied that your thoughts, facts, and opinions are well-organized. The outline will help you to structure your essay, avoid derailing it, and write a draft that bears all the quality ideas.
A good step is to organize the essay into paragraphs that align with the word count (often given as the minimum or maximum number of words, exact number of words, or characters).
Include an introduction to give your readers a clear understanding of the focus of your essay. Yes, a good nursing essay has a thesis statement that shows your central claim or the main idea you are focusing on the entire essay.
You should include the body paragraphs, each with a topic sentence supporting the thesis and a series of supporting facts such as examples, evidence, and illustration.
Finally, include a conclusion as the last paragraph that reverberates the thesis, summarizes the essay, and has a call to action to the admissions committee.
Write the First Draft
After the outline, you must begin writing your essay sentence by sentence and paragraph after paragraph. Whatever approach you take, ensure that every detail covered in the outline ends up in your essay as long as it is valid.
Write the introduction paragraph by giving a hook or attention grabber. You can begin with a quote from a famous nurse or a scholarly nursing article. You can also state facts or give statistics if they matter to your application. You should also elaborate on your selected topic, especially if the prompt provides options. End your first paragraph with a thesis statement that describes the focus of your nursing school essay. The introduction should account for 10-15% of the word count.
Each body paragraph has a unique, unmistakable, and concise topic sentence followed by supporting details and a concluding sentence that transitions to the next paragraph. Ensure that you have at least two body paragraphs considering that you can write either a three-paragraph or a five-paragraph nursing essay. Collectively, the body section should be 70-80% of the essay's word count. The body paragraphs should outline your encounters, experiences, and events and how they relate to the specific nursing program.
The final part is the conclusion, where you summarize the main ideas in the essay. for this, avoid the clich� conclusion starters such as "in conclusion," "to sum up," or "in summary." Instead, use conclusion opening sentences that demonstrate to your reader that the essay has ended � it gives the best closure and helps close the information loop in your essay. Rephrase your thesis and summarize the main ideas before appealing to the admissions committee to accept you into their nursing program. It should be 10-15% of the word count, like the introduction paragraph.
Edit and Polish the Essay
Now that you are done with your first draft, it is only the beginning, and you are far from being done. You need to take a break to cool down your frustrations, anxiety, and adrenaline developed when writing. It is a chance to establish an objective mind to look at things from a broader perspective when you settle for editing and proofreading.
If you are not good with editing and proofreading, you can hire a professional proofreading and editing expert to look at your essay and suggest changes to make. You can also use friends and family as a second and third eye to see what you cannot see. Using their feedback will help you optimize the essay for better results. You can incorporate the suggestions and proceed to editing and proofreading.
As for editing and proofreading, you can take advantage of tools such as Grammarly, Ginger, Hemingway Editor, and other editing and proofreading tools available by students and professionals. Revise the essay until it meets the requirements and addresses the prompt. If anything, do not be afraid to do away with an entire paragraph or a few paragraphs that don't make sense.
It is better to start over again than submit a subpar nursing school essay that will be a laughingstock of the admissions committee. The only way to entertain the admissions officers is to write an outstanding nursing school essay that will automatically dial you into the nursing program of your choice. Best of luck!
Example of Nursing School Essay Prompts
- Discuss your interest and understanding of the clinical nurse leader role. What's your story? And what experiences have contributed to your interest?
- The DNP program aims to prepare nurse leaders at the highest level of nursing practice to improve patient outcomes and translate research into practice. Describe experiences that exhibit your formal leadership role or informal leadership skills.
- How will the program help you achieve your academic and career goals?
- What experiences have influenced your interest in pursuing a clinical specialty you have chosen?
- The DNP program aims to prepare nurse leaders at the highest level of nursing practice to improve patient outcomes and translate research into practice. Describe experiences that exhibit your leadership skills.
- Why have you chosen to pursue a nursing research doctorate?
- How does becoming a nurse fulfill your ambitions?
- What does becoming a nurse mean to you?
- What drives you to become a nurse?
- Why do you want to become a nurse?
- What is your nursing philosophy?
- What was your reason for choosing nursing as a career? Do you have any additional information that you would like the admissions committee to know about you that has not been previously considered in the application?
- What are your professional goals? How will this accelerated nursing program help you materialize those goals?
- Discuss a specific leadership position (e.g., manager, director, associate dean) you wish to attain within three to five years after completing the DNP program.
Note: Some of these prompts have been rephrased from the Rush University Website . They keep changing depending on the preferences of the admissions committee. Inquire with your university or college of nursing to get specific directions on the most current prompts and instructions.
Related Reading: Ideas for a nursing capstone project.
Tips for Writing an Effective Nursing School Admission Essay
When grades, test scores, and other material entries don't count , a nursing school essay, referred to as a personal statement, suffices. In this case, a great nursing school can only be your hope for getting into nursing school. If you want to get ahead of the competition, these proven tips will significantly help you.
1. Plan Well
To pen an excellent nursing school essay that gets you accepted, you need to plan the essay.
Read the instructions, brainstorm as you take notes, research widely, and create an outline.
And even when done, the purpose is to have a reverse outline to help you score the essay against the requirements. Planning helps you to know what attention-grabbing statement to begin the essay with, the sequence of the body paragraph ideas for a logical flow, and what specifics to include in the conclusion.
Having an outline will help you save time when writing the first draft and help you to stay focused when writing.
2. Show, Don't Tell!
All effective nursing school essays express your personality, experiences, and encounters while convincing the admissions officers that you are the best fit for the program.
You should not focus on telling your story alone. Instead, show how your account relates to the prompt.
Discuss experiences, encounters, and events but show how they have impacted your choice of the program and desire to become a nurse.
If you are applying to a specific program, enlighten your readers on why you are specifically interested in the program and what that means.
It could be the hybrid learning model that entails both online and classroom learning or the history or reputation the school has, parental preferences (if they were a graduate), mentor recommendation, etc.
3. Choose Information Wisely
Ensure that every idea or information in your essay is unique, authentic, and original. Don't just write fictitiously.
If you have no past experiences directly related to nursing, you can introduce them and twist them to fit the context.
Impress the admissions committee with your wits, not just a summary of what others have written online.
Standing out in your presentation of facts will always carry the day. Genuinely share your story about what made you want to become a nurse.
4. Avoid Excuses
Even if you don't have appealing past encounters with medicine, hospitals, or anything related to nursing, tell your story as it is.
Do not excuse yourself for telling the truth. After all, you are on your journey to becoming a nurse; all you are seeking is training to develop the knowledge and skills.
If you have cared for your family members at home, babysat your siblings, or have compassion for the suffering, these are the most authentic stories you have, and they can spell meaning on your ambition. Therefore, prove your strong candidature by stating things as they are without clutching at things that do not matter.
5. Let it Flow!
Instead of forcing things such as humor or stories, write plainly about your experiences, encounters, and past events that made you want to become a nurse.
Most "why I want to be a nurse" essays don't have to have any humor. If it clicks well and is good, if it doesn't, don't force it.
As well, avoid exaggerating things when writing your nursing school essay. You should focus on making it as interesting, engaging, and convincing as can be but be truthful.
Avoid mixing up stories. A good way is to focus each paragraph on the main point that relates to your thesis.
6. Show you care about People and Yourself
Nursing is a noble career that entails caring for oneself as you care for others. Your full-time attention and job will be to care for people to help them achieve better health outcomes.
You must show empathy, selflessness, and determination to be a nurse. You can bring examples of when you took care of others and yourself.
Let the committee know that even when training as a nurse, you understand self-care as much as you understand caring for others.
7. Bring in Current Issues
If there is a chance that you can introduce nursing concepts or ideas from current events, it will beef up your nursing school essays.
Get facts from well-established nursing organization websites such as the American Nurses Association, National League of Nursing, Emergency Nurses Association, Sigma Theta Tau, or National Black Nurses Association, etc.
Intrigue your readers by understanding the challenges and opportunities in the nursing field.
You can relate your application to nursing shortages, medical errors, nursing burnout, continuing education, evidence-based practice, etc.
8. Briefly Explain your Qualifications
Since you have already provided material such as transcripts, resumes, and test scores, it is imperative to briefly expound on the qualifications without going into details. Tell them about your experiences, your education, and how you have set yourself up for success in nursing school . For instance, elaborate on how volunteering and internships helped you develop a sense of becoming a nurse or how they developed skills you will apply in nursing school.
9. Share your plans
Everybody has plans. You have short, medium, and long-term goals as you prepare to enter nursing school. You should include them in your essay and demonstrate how the program or school will help you achieve them. Admission officers are always wowed by hearing about goals, especially if they relate to their schools or programs. As you do this, be very specific with the goals and how you intend to achieve them.
All set, but before You Go �
As you contemplate entering nursing school, you must understand that it will never be a walk in the park. There is so much to learn within the specified time frame, and you must show your preparedness. A nursing school personal essay is one of the ways to do so.
- Writing a nursing philosophy ( a student's guide)
- Writing a nursing student resume (a guide)
Lucky for you, our nursing admission essay writers have shared insights, tips, and steps that can help you write an exceptional application essay for any nursing school or program. If you follow them, you will write a seamless admission essay that increases your chances of getting into the nursing school of your dreams.
We wish you luck in your endeavors and promise that were available in case you need a well-written, organized, and plagiarism-free admission essay tailored to your experiences and the specific nursing school or program requirements.
Waste 5 Hours
Or Spend $23 ?
Tips for Going Back to Nursing School after a Hiatus
Choosing your Nursing Dissertation Topic : A Quick Guide
How to Write a Great Nursing Personal Philosophy Paper
NurseMyGrades is being relied upon by thousands of students worldwide to ace their nursing studies. We offer high quality sample papers that help students in their revision as well as helping them remain abreast of what is expected of them.
Writing Tips for Nursing School Students
Learn about our editorial process .
Updated November 15, 2022
Our Integrity Network
NurseJournal.org is committed to delivering content that is objective and actionable. To that end, we have built a network of industry professionals across higher education to review our content and ensure we are providing the most helpful information to our readers.
Drawing on their firsthand industry expertise, our Integrity Network members serve as an additional step in our editing process, helping us confirm our content is accurate and up to date. These contributors:
- Suggest changes to inaccurate or misleading information.
- Provide specific, corrective feedback.
- Identify critical information that writers may have missed.
Integrity Network members typically work full time in their industry profession and review content for NurseJournal.org as a side project. All Integrity Network members are paid members of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network.
Explore our full list of Integrity Network members.
Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?
Writing is an essential skill nurses should achieve proficiency in early in their career. It is a crucial part of the profession, as nurses need to be able to effectively communicate with patients, families, and other healthcare professionals.
While verbal communication also plays a vital role in nursing, being able to write well builds the nurse's ability to provide better care.
Being able to accurately detail a patient's personal history, symptoms, and diagnosis allows for the execution of a precise treatment plan that is clearly communicated to all parties involved, both professional and personal.
From registered nurses to clinical nurses and beyond, being able to communicate effectively and efficiently is a critical soft skill that will help nurses in any role increase their ability to treat their patients.
This guide provides an overview of the types of writing nurses will experience throughout their educational training. Utilize the following tips and tricks to help strengthen your writing skills, which will ultimately help in the development of transferable career skills .
Featured Online MSN Programs
Types of writing nurses will do in school, personal statements for nursing school.
Nursing schools want candidates who meet academic and professional requirements. They also want a candidate who demonstrates a sincere passion for patient care and individual connections. You should always craft a personal statement, even when the application doesn't explicitly require one. Personal statements allow you to describe your goals, characteristics, credentials, volunteer work, and meaningful life experiences. A well-crafted essay can help you stand out among other qualified applicants. And, as with any piece of writing, you must take the time to revise.
In your personal statement, you should portray yourself as determined and empathetic, with characteristics, goals, work ethic, and healthcare philosophy that align with a program's values. Some nursing schools ask for a general personal statement, while others require a specific prompt. Colleges commonly ask students to describe a hardship they overcame, a difficult task they accomplished, or a professional goal they hope to achieve through the program. Many schools also ask students to detail previous experiences in healthcare. You may decide to write about how you connect with patients or how you provide practical and emotional support to loved ones.
You will also encounter writing prompts during examinations, including standardized tests like the GRE or MCAT, nursing school entrance exams , and course-specific evaluations. You may also take exams to get state licensure or professional certification. In most of these instances, you will need to write one or several long-form essays. Proper planning is key. Though you won't know what specific prompt the test will require, you can expect certain common topics. You can search online or use study guides to determine which prompts usually appear on each test.
On test day, you should begin by creating an outline that lists three main points in response to the prompt. Using these points, work backwards to write a central thesis to guide the essay's structure. Review what you've written to ensure that the essay actually responds to the prompt at hand. Be sure to leave time to correct spelling, grammar, and stylistic errors.
Like essays, research papers follow a long-form structure. Unlike an essay, which heavily relies on the writer's point of view, a research paper presents an in-depth investigation of a topic using data, expert opinions, and insights. While an essay evaluates general critical thinking and writing skills, a research paper tests your knowledge, research skills, and original contributions. Research papers also allow you to prove you understand what has been argued and discovered about a topic. Research papers, especially at the graduate and doctoral levels, require independent research and analyses. These papers sometimes take months or years to complete.
To write a successful research paper, you should pick a topic relevant to your interests and the nursing field. Possibilities include elderly care challenges, patient safety and ethics, mental health treatment and regulations in the U.S., and nursing shortages and possible solutions. Whatever your choice, you must plan accordingly. Advanced papers such as dissertations may require funding or help from professors. Research papers often consist of the following sections: abstract, introduction, literature review, methods, results, discussion, conclusion, and references. You should keep this general structure in mind as you prepare notes and outlines.
How Do You Write a Nursing Essay?
In nursing school, essay writing includes academic papers, personal narratives, and professional compositions. You should become familiar with each of the five major forms below. There are many similarities between these essay types, such as an overarching thesis and a supportive, logical structure. You should support claims with factual, statistical, anecdotal, and rhetorical evidence. However, each form requires distinct skills to achieve specific results.
Cause and effect, citations guide for nursing students.
Citations allow readers to know where information came from. By citing sources, you avoid plagiarizing or stealing another person's ideas, research, language, and analyses. Whether intentional or unintentional, plagiarism is one of the most egregious errors one can make. Consequences for plagiarism include automatic course failure, disciplinary actions from the university, and even legal repercussions. You should take special care to ensure you properly cite sources.
- Collapse All
American Psychological Association (APA) Style
APA is the most commonly used style among natural scientists, social scientists, educators, and nurses. Like other citation styles, APA emphasizes clarity of font style, font size, spacing, and paragraph structure. APA citations focus on publication date, and in most cases, the date comes right after the author's name. This order makes the style particularly useful for scientists, who value new research and updates on current findings. For more information on APA style, visit this official website .
(Author and year of publication, page number) "Punishment, then, will tend to become the most hidden part of the penal process" (Foucault, 1977, p. 9).
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS)
CMS (also known as CMOS or, simply, Chicago) features two citation systems, the notes and bibliography, and the author and date. This style is used primarily by historians, who place high importance on a text's origin. The notes and bibliography include a superscript number with a corresponding footnote or endnote. Scientific professionals use the author and date citation, a generic parenthetical system with similarities to other citation styles. The CMS official website provides additional information, including changes to citation systems in the current edition.
"Punishment, then, will tend to become the most hidden part of the penal process". 1 1. Michel Foucault, trans. Alan Sheridan, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (New York: Pantheon Books, 1977), 9.
(Author and year of publication, page number) "Punishment, then, will tend to become the most hidden part of the penal process" (Foucault 1977, 9).
Modern Language Association (MLA) Format
MLA format traces its history to 1951 when it was first published as a thin booklet. Today, MLA is the primary format used by academics and professionals in humanities, English, literature, media studies, and cultural studies. To adapt to the rapid growth of new mediums over the past few decades, MLA updates its citation system. Visit the MLA Style Center for in-depth information on new guidelines and ongoing changes. In general, in text citations consist of author and page number, or just page number if the author's name appears in the text.
(Author and page number) "Punishment, then, will tend to become the most hidden part of the penal process" (Foucault 9).
Associated Press (AP) Style
Published in 1952, the original AP Stylebook was marketed to journalists and other professionals related to the Associated Press. AP now stands as the go-to style for professionals in business, public relations, media, mass communications, and journalism. AP style prioritizes brevity and accuracy. The style includes specific guidelines regarding technological terms, titles, locations, and abbreviations and acronyms. Unlike the previous styles, AP does not use parenthetical or in-text citations. Rather, writers cite sources directly in the prose. For more information, including style-checking tools and quizzes, visit the Associated Press Stylebook .
In the book, "Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison," first published in English in 1977, philosopher Michel Foucault argues that "Punishment, then, will tend to become the most hidden part of the penal process".
Which Style Should Nursing Students Use?
Because nurses rely on scientific terms and information, professionals in the field usually use APA style. Regardless of the purpose and specific genre of your text, you should always strive for concise, objective, and evidenced-based writing. You can expect to learn APA style as soon as you enroll in a major course. However, you should also prepare to learn other styles as part of your academic training. For example, freshman composition classes tend to focus on MLA guidelines.
Common Writing Mistakes Students Make
Active vs. passive voice.
Active and passive voice represent two different ways to present the same piece of information. Active voice focuses on the subject performing an action. For example, the dog bites the boy. This format creates clear, concise, and engaging writing. Using active voice, nurses might write, I administered patient care at 11:00. Passive voice, on the other hand, focuses on the object of the sentence or the action being performed. For example, the boy was bitten by the dog. A passive sentence is usually one that contains the verb "to be." Using passive voice, you might write, patient care was administered at 11:00.
Professionals in the sciences often use passive voice in their writing to create an objective tone and authorial distance. Passive voice can prioritize specific terms, actions, evidence, or research over the writer's presence. Additionally, nurses use passive voice because it is usually clear that the reported thoughts, actions, and opinions come from them. However, you must also learn how to use active voice.
There are 14 punctuation marks in the English language, each with multiple and sometimes overlapping uses. Additionally, certain punctuation marks only make sense in highly specific and nuanced grammatical instances. To master punctuation, you must learn through practice, particularly by revising your own writing.
For example, colons and semicolons are often used interchangeably, when they actually serve distinct purposes. Generally used before itemized lists, colons stand in for the phrases "here is what I mean" or "that is to say." For example, I am bringing three things to the picnic: applesauce, napkins, and lemonade. Semicolons separate two independent clauses connected through topic or meaning. For example, It was below zero; Ricardo wondered if he would freeze to death. Comma splices, which create run on sentences, are another common mistake. You can identify a comma splice by learning the differences between an independent and dependent clause.
Grammar refers to the rules of a particular language system. Grammar determines how users can structure words and form sentences with coherent meaning. Aspects include syntax (the arrangement of words to convey their mutual relations in a sentence) and semantics (how individual words and word groups are understood). Unless you major in writing, literature, etymology, or another related field, you generally won't examine English grammar deeply. Through years of cognitive development and practice, native users implicitly understand how to effectively employ the language.
Distinct grammatical systems exist for each language and, sometimes, even within a single language. For example, African American Vernacular English uses different syntactic rules than General American English. You should learn grammatical terms and definitions. Common errors include subject/verb agreement, sentence fragments, dangling modifiers, and vague or incorrect pronoun usage. Hasty writers can also misuse phonetically similar words (your/you're, its/it's, and there/their/they're).
Writing Resources for Nursing Students
Shrilekha Deshaies, MSN, RN
Shri Deshaies is a nurse educator with over 20 years of experience teaching in hospital, nursing school, and community settings. Deshaies' clinical area of expertise is critical care nursing and she is a certified critical care nurse. She has worked in various surgical ICUs throughout her career, including cardiovascular, trauma, and neurosurgery.
Shri Deshaies is a paid member of our Healthcare Review Partner Network. Learn more about our review partners here .
Page last reviewed November 30, 2021
NurseJournal.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
Whether you’re looking to get your pre-licensure degree or taking the next step in your career, the education you need could be more affordable than you think. Find the right nursing program for you.
Resources and articles written by professionals and other nurses like you.