Updated: Dec 28, 2020
Applying to University can be intense. When it comes to writing your personal statement, if you are anything like me, you find it difficult to 'big' yourself up. Here are some helpful and handy tips that I learned along the process.
GREAT! You've decided to apply to university to become a mental health nurse. And it is now time to begin your UCAS application. The personal statement is always the most difficult bit. 4000 characters (including spaces) may seem like a lot, but trust me, when you start putting pen to paper, they will fly by!!
Tip #1 - Research
There are numerous resources online which will help you find your starting point. Ask yourself:
- What should I include in my personal statement?
- What will they be looking for?
- How can I make myself stand out?
Have a Google - read some examples and get a feel for the terminology and tone that is widely used and accepted.
Tip #2 - Reflect
Don't start writing straight away. Grab a piece of paper and reflect on your experiences.
What made you want to apply to become a Mental Health Nurse? What personal attributes do you have that demonstrate you have what it takes?
These will be your building blocks.
Nursing candidates are expected to be able to demonstrate the 6 C's both through their personal statement and at interview.
Care Compassion Competence
Communication Courage Commitment
Include these words within your statement, but make sure to link them to experience.
Along with the 6 C's, I also like the 3 P's.
Personality Professionalism Passion
Try to come up with an example that matches each of these words. They do not need to be nursing specific. For example, if you are a sports coach, you can use this experience to demonstrate strong communication skills and professionalism.
Tip #3 - Structure
Like any essay, your personal statement must have a beginning, middle and end. Plan this out. Now that you have identified what your content will be, it is now time to organise and arrange it.
Opening: Try and avoid 'I want to study (mental health) nursing because...'. Whilst this is acceptable, it is very generic. Think of other ways in which you can introduce your personal statement, and make it unique. You could maybe open with a quote, or explain your understanding of what a mental health nurse career looks like, or draw on your own experiences, 'From my previous <number> years experience as a / Having parents who are social workers ...'
Middle: No one can tell you what this should look like, as the middle is all about you. Just make sure that the statement is fluid and doesn't jump from one place to the next.
Close: Make this punchy, and a summary that the reader will not forget. Don't use this section to repeat what you have already said. Why is this important to you? Show how much you really want it.
Tip #4- Draft, Draft and Draft Again
Do not try to write it all in one go. Write a section, leave it a few days, and read over it with a fresh set of eyes. Often when we spend so long looking at something, we forget what is there. Reflect on what you have previously written, make some adjustments. It is never going to be perfect the first time. Check for spelling and punctuation errors too.
Get someone else to read it over; a friend, family member or academic. Take on their feedback. They are not criticising, but instead helping you succeed. Teamwork is such an important tool for this line of work.
Nursing and Midwifery Council Code of Conduct; Available here