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How to make your Nursing School Application Standout

8th April 21

Nursing takes a great deal of commitment, not least because it’s a long and challenging process to gain your qualification.

The reason for this is simple: hospitals want the very best people caring for their patients. It is partly for this reason that there are significantly more nursing school applicants than there are places available.

Around 50,000 people apply to the UK’s 87 nursing schools every year and of those just 20,000 students graduate. So, to secure your place in your chosen nursing school, your application needs to be among the top 40%.

The good news is that your efforts will be rewarded. If you graduate as a registered nurse you have a 94% chance of getting a job within the first 6 months. The NHS also has a reputation for highly competitive rates of pay, not to mention a world-renowned reputation.

However, before you can start eyeing up employment opportunities, you need to complete your qualifications. You will need to complete a nursing degree from an accredited university.

Requirements are set deliberately high. So, if you don’t have the relevant qualifications, you’ll need to gain strong grades in A Levels or an Access to Higher Education Diploma (Nursing) first.

Qualifications, while important, are just part of your application to nursing school. Your grades will be very similar to the other applicant. The nursing schools are looking for more than academic acumen – they are looking for the right people.

Nursing isn’t for everyone so the schools need to be confident that anyone they accept will make an excellent nurse in the future.

Here are a few ways you can communicate your enthusiasm for your future career as a nurse.

learndirect - How to make your Nursing School Application Standout

Get your Personal Statement Right

Whatever course you apply for, your personal statement has to be on point. It is your one and only chance to address your future educators and convey why nursing matters to you.

You should mention your motivations for becoming a nurse and the interest you have in your chosen branch of nursing. This will give you the opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of nursing and healthcare.

Your personal statement must include any practical experience you may have had. If you haven’t got any that’s directly related, talk about how other work experience has provided you with other useful transferrable skills. Highlight any research or learning you have completed also. This will demonstrate your active interest in medicine and healthcare.

It’s very important that you’re genuine and honest in your personal statement. Admissions officers and heads of school are looking for authenticity. Plus, UCAS keeps a copy of every personal statement ever submitted. They compare every application against that archive to make sure nothing has been copied.

Also bear in mind that the university isn’t looking for someone who could qualify tomorrow. An enthusiasm for nursing and a desire to care for others will count in your favour.

learndirect - Make your Nursing School Application Standout

Relevant Experience and Skills

If you do have some practical experience, outline what you did and why it was of benefit. Include what you learned and important lessons from mistakes made. Ultimately what you’re trying to achieve is to demonstrate how your experiences will make you a better nurse.

Where possible provide practical examples. Anecdotal evidence will help give the skills you’ve gained some context and help to highlight how you coped in high-pressure situations. It’s also worth mentioning how these experiences influenced your decision to become a nurse.

Other skills you should include in your personal statement include:


Strong organisational skills within a high-pressure environment are all but essential within medicine. Your future career will require you to be calm, collected and in a position to think and act clearly.

Provide examples of how your organisational skills have helped you perform your job well and/or helped others succeed.

This doesn’t have to be care related. Hitting tight deadlines, co-ordinating a team or managing a large workload are all valid examples of your organisational skills.


Within a hospital setting, good communication is vital. The ability to make yourself understand or relaying information quickly and accurately detailing key information can save lives.

As a nurse, you will be required to advocate on behalf of the patient and their family to attending doctors and surgeons. You will need to relay clear information on the condition of the patient and put forward any observations you have made.

You will also need to talk to family members about the condition of their loved one. That can include breaking bad news. So you need to have a strong resolve on top of the ability to communicate and comfort people.

Use examples to demonstrate your communication skills. Instances where you have diffused a difficult situation or supported someone experiencing a difficult time would be useful.


Advocacy is an essential part of a nurse’s role. You will have to advocate on behalf of the patients when discussing care with the attending doctor or surgeon.

It’s actually a specific point in the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) code, so including it in your personal statement will get the university’s attention.

Include any examples of advocacy that you have. They don’t have to be professional, they just need to demonstrate your ability to accurately and faithfully speak and act on behalf of someone else.

That could be caring for a family member, being a member of the PTA or sitting on a student council.

learndirect - Nursing School Application

Starting your Nursing Career

As places are limited, admissions officers and heads of school are especially interested in those who have an idea of where they want their careers to go. A strong desire to be a nurse will get you only so far, especially if it’s between you and someone who has their career planned out.

In your personal statement, you should touch on how you see your career progressing beyond your initial employment.

If you’re not sure yet, be honest about it. Instead, touch on the specialist areas you’re looking forward to working in.

Either way, the objective here is to talk about your career beyond your training and demonstrate an understanding of the roles nurses have.

Whatever areas you touch on, do your best to provide an example of why you find that area of medicine interesting or important.

Don’t get too hung up on finding your path, your lecturers aren’t going to hold you to it. What you’re trying to achieve is demonstrating your commitment to the profession and your career.

Starting your Studies

Nurses are the backbone of our health service. They provide essential care and comfort to patients and support doctors and surgeons in treatments.

They also carry out a multitude of tasks that help doctors do their jobs. They are, without question essential to our society.

If you want to be a nurse but lack the relevant qualifications to enrol on a nursing degree course, we can help. learndirect is the leading UK online learning provider.

Our Access to Higher Education Diploma (Nursing) could get you into university, click the link below.

To learn more about online learning, check out our blog.

learndirect - choose distance learning


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