For all of those potential CRNAs out there - here is my opinion and opinion only - this does not and will not guarantee your admission to a CRNA program - my disclaimer!

I have been asked by a number of potential applicants what makes an impressive personal statement. Here was my response to one of them. I hope that it is something that can help other potential applicants. Again, this is MY opinion and only MY opinion:

I can't say I have ever asked anyone to write a "mission statement" before. My understanding of a mission statement is what you are trying to accomplish - more of a goal statement. That would entail both your short and long term goals. As a former CRNA Program Director and long time educator, I can't tell you how many essays I have read. Some are really dynamite, some are duds. If you aren't a good writer (and you know better than anyone) there is no harm, no foul in asking for help. The key is that it flows and is easily readable without jumping all over the place.

Why do you want to be a CRNA? Simple as that to me.

Here is my "Top 10 List" of the do's and do not's of the personal statement:

1. Don't go into your history too much, especially if it is a big sob story. You can't make a program accept you by trying to make them feel sorry for you. They really don't care about the adversity you had to overcome to get to where you are. It gets really corny really fast. I'm not saying don't mention it at all, but try not to make it the focus of why you are wanting to become a CRNA. Avoid sounding like you are a victim.

2. Be clear with what it is you want. It is ok to mention the money - no one believes you would put yourself through this without some financial reward.

3. Be optimistic. Look to the future and what you can do for the profession and yourself. NEVER say you want out of nursing - you are still a nurse as a CRNA and there are some people in the profession (especially if it is a nursing based program) who may be offended by that comment.

4. Never start with a quote. It is SOOOO cliche, and everyone who reads it will roll their eyes right of the bat.

5. This is about you, not about quotes. Keep the philosophical quotes to a minimum. I have read essays that are loaded with quotes and it is really distracting.

6. If it says 500 words, stick to it as closely as possible. I knew a Program Director once who would score any essay over the word limit as a zero. I don't count words personally, but potential SRNAs need to color in the lines - if you can't follow the rules on your application, they fear you won't follow the rules in the program.

7. Be honest. This is your opportunity (depending on what they ask for) to explain any weaknesses in your application. Take ownership of your weaknesses - by the way, they are your fault. Nothing scares an admission's committee more than someone unable to take responsibility for their faults. They are very hard to teach if they can't see any fault in their actions. That "C" in Anatomy is not because your dog died, you caught your S.O. cheating, the teacher hated you, or you had to go to a funeral during midterm exams. It happened because you earned it. No excuses.

8. Be sure to answer the question that they ask you. You would be surprised how many essays you read that don't answer or address the requirements of the personal statement. Make an outline that includes direct answers to their questions. If they say "where do you see yourself in 5 years" be sure to answer that!

9. It is all about form and flow - seriously. Spell check, complete sentences, not shifting from 1st to 3rd person, stay in the same tense, etc. Graduate level work. I have read essays that look like an 8 year old wrote it. Misspelled words really grind my gears. It makes it look like you didn't care enough to make it perfect. If perfection isn't in you, they won't want you.

10. Have someone you trust who will give you HONEST feedback to read it and tell you what they think. Someone who will be critical and give suggestions for improvement. My wife is my greatest critic when it comes to my writing. Sometimes I write things that make sense to me but not to anyone else. Be sure it is cogent and covers all of the points required.

Basically I would suggest starting with "I first learned about the Nurse Anesthesia Profession.... transition into how it piqued your interest, and what you have done to prepare for it. What you plan to do while in school, what you plan to do after you finish. Keep the self adulation under control - nursing was actually ok before you got on the scene. You want to appear humble and eager without sounding cocky.

As an end note - almost everyone puts that they want to return to school after finishing, get a doctoral degree, and teach. Very few actually do, so don't go into that part deeply if you don't really think you want to do that. That is in probably 80% of the essays I read. By the way, for those who think we don't read them, I've got news for you....

Hope this helps - I'll post it on the discussion board for others to read (name removed) so they have an opportunity to learn and respond.

Good luck to you in your goal of becoming a CRNA - still the smartest thing I ever did!

Jerry Hogan