Nursing Times resident student nurse blogger Katrina Michelle Rowan on job applications, personal statements and difficult questions.
My little girl is fascinated by babies at the moment.
Her aunt had a baby just before Christmas and now another aunt has just announced she is pregnant. My daughter has acquired a collection of dolls that she pretends are her babies. I was bathing her and she was asking questions about breastfeeding and why her cousin sleeps so much. Then, “mummy, how do babies get inside mummy’s tummies?” My other half looked at me in panic and announced I could deal with that question before he promptly left the bathroom. I didn’t want to lie to my daughter but I felt that she was too young to understand the full workings of baby making, so I gave her a very watered down version of the truth.
I have found myself thinking of this conversation between myself and my daughter as I fill in application forms for jobs. We had a full day session last week at university about applying for jobs, writing personal statements and preparing for qualification. I have 9 months to go before I qualify. I must admit I had been burying my head in the sand regarding applying for a job, but the day at university made me realise I need to be prepared and start looking.
Part of the day encompassed writing a personal statement to “sell yourself” to the potential employer, writing positive comments that would leave people wanting to know more and hopefully invite you back for an interview. This is where I have found myself struggling and thinking of that conversation my daughter and I had regarding making babies. I watered down the truth, gave her the basics, just enough to satisfy her curiosity and told her what I thought was appropriate. Somehow I have found myself doing something similar when writing my personal statement. I have put comments like “I am receptive, diplomatic, understanding and supportive to the suggestions and views of others” and “Working as part of a team where you can share the pleasure of achieving goals and results, I find extremely rewarding, while the challenge of responsibility from undertaking individual roles and tasks I find very satisfying”. I do believe these comments to be true to me, but actually, what I really want to put is something like the following “I have completed almost 3 years training and don’t feel anywhere near ready to qualify. The amount of knowledge that I do have is tiny compared to the amount of knowledge I believe I need to know to be a competent nurse. The thought of looking after a bay of patients as a qualified nurse terrifies me. I am actually not that good at knowing what the medications many patients are on are actually for and pharmacology makes me cry. I do however ask endless questions if I’m not sure about something. I smile a lot, I have a sunny disposition, and I like to laugh. I have two children who I adore and they have taught me so much about patience that I believe is reflected in my nursing practice. I believe in compassion and trust. I think compassion and the ability to communicate are two of the most vital things that being a nurse involves. I have gone home and cried on some nights when a patient has died. I have made mistakes, I have learnt from them. I want to be a good nurse but I don’t feel ready”.
But writing that isn’t going to get me a job even though it’s how I feel. So, I find myself watering it down, taking out the bad bits, leaving in the positive and hoping an employer somewhere will like my personal statement just enough to consider inviting me for an interview. On the plus side, I have 9 months to find a job, which is plenty of time to work on my personal statement and in the mean time; I have my daughter, who is still obsessed with babies, to provide me with inspiration for my personal statement. She keeps asking me if I have a baby in my belly. “No sweetheart” I reply, “Mummy just has too much cake in her belly”.