Nursing Cover Letter Example and Writing Guide [+ Template]
Writing a nursing cover letter? A registered nurse (or “RN” for short) is a medical professional who assists physicians in providing treatment to patients suffering from various medical conditions. A registered nurse is a medical professional who has graduated from a nursing program. And has met the country, state, province, or similar government-authorized licensure requirements to obtain a nursing license.
What makes a great Nurse?
Nurses go by multiple job titles depending on their work in the nursing field. This includes travel nurse, school nurse, registered nurse, and nurse practitioner (or acute care nurse practitioner). All of these jobs qualify for writing a nurse cover letter that speaks to the industry. And the candidate’s passions. And should be authored in a way that shows the correct competencies for the job.
According to Eileen Williamson (MSN, RN) at Nurse.com. A great nurse is defined as someone who can “practice kindness, emotional stability, empathy, and caring. And trustworthiness and compassion. And being able to connect on a personal level.” Eileen goes on to say that “strong communication skills. Using critical-thinking skills effectively. Having an attention to detail. And being able to adapt to changing scenarios or situations on the fly” are key competencies and characteristics of a great nurse.
Traditional nursing skills include organizational skills, empathy, patient care skills, patience, and communication. But Portia Wofford at Nurse.org goes on to add that valuable soft skills for a nurse can include “time management and networking skills.” Portia goes on to explain that “The healthcare industry is all about collaboration and an interdisciplinary approach. Developing the aptitude for networking. And being able to work in groups and contribute seamlessly is excellent for career advancement and improves the level of care for patients.” Additionally, a study conducted by the Adler Group and LinkedIn shows 85% of jobs were secured through networking.
Writing a Nursing Cover Letter
It’s important to consider medical facility values and hospital values. Or the clear objectives set through the job description or job advertisement (sometimes referred to as a “job ad”). As an experienced nurse, displaying key skills and competencies in the cover letter should come from previous work experience. Using storytelling as a method of communication can be effective.
Include stories that show career accomplishments, competencies, key skills, patient care, and other qualities that the nursing job description refers to. This helps a prospective employer better understand and evaluate a candidate's ability to provide quality care. And provide that care inside the healthcare facility. And predict overall future job performance.
As a job seeker, it’s important to understand the hospital or healthcare facilities’ values, morals, and patient care mission statement of the potential employer. This can be assistive in authoring a letter that displays a passion for similar patient care ethics and patient outcomes.
Each job application should have a unique cover letter accompanying it. Never repeat or reuse a cover letter for each nursing position being applied to during a job search. The letter should be unique and tailored to the hospital administrator or director. As a job seeker, it’s vital to comprehend that there is no such thing as a “perfect cover letter.” Only a “good cover letter” that speaks to the ethics of the healthcare provider. Or the physician’s needs, the job description, and personal passions for being a nurse.
Avoid mentioning stories or career accomplishments that are already listed on the resume. This may include references to career accomplishments in the career objective or resume summary portion of the nursing resume. Referring to "on the job" experience or certifications can assist in securing a job interview.
References to certifications can be assistive for the hiring manager. Certifications such as:
- AIDS Certified Registered Nurse (ACRN)
- Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN)
- Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN)
- Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP-BC)
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
On the Job Experience
Referring to clinical experience or "on the job" experience can be beneficial as well. This includes:
- Handle scheduling.
- Train other nurses on EMR systems.
- Handle Medicaid reimbursements through HCAHPS scores.
- Handle patient care, blood draws, and other vital sign checks without the presence of a physician or primary care provider.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics provides helpful insight into desirable characteristics, skills, and traits of a nurse:
- Critical-thinking skills. Registered nurses must assess changes in the health status of patients, such as determining when to take corrective action.
- Communication skills. Registered nurses must communicate effectively with patients to understand their concerns and evaluate their health conditions. Nurses need to explain instructions, such as how to take medication clearly. They must work in teams with other health professionals and communicate patients’ needs.
- Compassion. Registered nurses should be caring and empathetic when working with patients.
- Detail-oriented. Registered nurses must be precise because they must ensure that patients get the correct treatments and medicines at the right time.
- Emotional stability. Registered nurses need emotional resilience and the ability to cope with human suffering, emergencies, and other stressors.
- Organizational skills. Nurses often work with multiple patients who have a variety of health needs. The ability to coordinate numerous treatment plans and records is critical to ensure that each patient receives appropriate care.
- Physical stamina. Nurses should be comfortable performing physical tasks, such as lifting patients. They may be on their feet for most of their shift.
How to Choose Skills to Use
To determine the right skills or career accomplishments to share with the interviewer. Or to list on the cover letter (or resume). Read through the job description or job advertisement (sometimes referred to as a job ad or job posting).
Here's an example job description for a cashier position. In strong are the points in the job description that would align with the sample skills below it.
From the sample job description above, it's clear that customer service is a key skill. Meaning, the cover letter, and resume should include work experiences and skills that allude to strong customer service abilities. Remember: Author stores in the cover letter support these skills, rather than speaking directly to them. For example, "I have customer service skills."
Tip: There is no such thing as a "perfect nursing cover letter." Only a cover letter that has been written for the hospital administration or the medical facility administration. Consider how the administration practices patient care. And what the job description alludes to requiring from an ideal candidate. And then design the cover letter around those insights.
Nursing Cover Letter Example
Below is a cover letter sample for a nursing position. Job seekers may be searching for an “RN Cover Letter,” which is the below sample letter. Use the nursing cover letter sample below when authoring a cover letter for any nursing role.
Nursing Cover Letter Example with No Experience
Below is a cover letter sample for a nursing position without any previous experience. Best for new graduates and those who recently completed their Registered Nurse program.
Nursing Cover Letter Format
Nursing Cover Letter Tips
Follow these tips below to author a great cover letter for any nursing position.
- Write the letter in active voice style writing. Grammarly.com defines active voice as having “a strong, direct, and clear tone.” This will ensure the letter sounds professional, is clear, and displays the written communication skills required for the job.
- Review the patient care policies listed on the healthcare providers' "About Us" page. Gain insight into what the provider values to ensure customer wellness and care.
- For those with no previous work experience, use test scores and personal stories to show a passion for the job.
Greet the reader by name
The best practice to follow is to greet the cover letter reader by name. Saying "Dear Mr. Johnson." Rather than "Dear Hiring Manager." It shows the candidate has taken the time to research the hospital staff and understand who is hiring for the position.
Speak about patient care
A nursing position is all about providing optimal patient care. Nurses and nurse practitioners see patients more frequently than physicians or general practitioners. Speaking about patient care, how patient care is provided, and the candidate's passion for patient care can create a powerful nursing cover letter.
Use career accomplishments
Experienced nurses have career accomplishments they can reference. An accomplishment can be the number of patients they have been able to treat. Or an accomplishment can be the types of treatment that have been provided to patients.
Tell impactful stories
Referencing job experiences can allude to core competencies, characteristics, and soft skills that the employer desires. Tell stories in the cover letter that indicate the types of qualities the employer is looking for in an ideal candidate. Clues to what the employer is looking for can be found in the job description. Or on the hospital's career portal or "About Us" page.
Refer to the job description
The job description contains guidance on what the employer is looking for in an ideal candidate. From hard skills to core competencies, traits, and more. If a job posting (or job advertisement) is not available online for the position, use the following sample job duties and responsibilities:
- Assist patients with general healthcare needs.
- Communicate with the charge nurse regarding patient health care.
- Transport patients as needed (ambulatory and other transportation needs).
- Check the vital signs of patients within the nursing home.
- Communicate and coordinate with the nursing staff (and certified nurse aides) to ensure each patient is provided care regularly.
- Operate medical equipment to ensure residents receive prescribed regular and basic care.
- Ensure daily living of the patients is the highest quality of life possible.
- Assist with the charge nurse and licensed practical nurse (LPN) with helping patients in a variety of administrative style duties.
- Answer call bells and make rounds.
- Provide postmortem care.
- Reposition patients and residents in a bed or char.
- Assist in ambulation requirements and needs.
- Assist with personal and dental hygiene (as part of ADL's).
- Transfer the patient to and from the bed or chair or other locations within the facility.
In some nursing cover letters, asking questions or having inquisitive comments in the cover letter can spark inspiration for the reader. Questions regarding patient care, patient coordination, insurance coordination, or referring to frequent issues found within hospital systems. The cover letter writer can seem involved in the industry and up to date on industry trends.
This cover letter writing guide applies to nursing positions and fields of similar occupation. Including:
- Dental Assistants
- Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides
- Medical Assistants
- Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides
Top Nursing Job Boards
Job candidates should use the following job boards to connect with health care professionals. Or administrators looking to fill a registered nurse, CNA, or medical assistant position.
Top nursing job boards
Our favorite resources are included below.
Job interview resources
- Common Interview Questions by Marquette University
- Prepare for Behavioral Interview Questions by Marquette University
- Preparing for Job Interviews by the University of Kansas
- Mock Interview Handbook by CSUCI
- Interview Guidebook by Lebanon Valley College
Resume and cover letter resources
- Writing a Resume and Cover Letter by USC
- Resume Writing Tips by the University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Resume and Cover Letter Guide by Harvard University
Job search resources
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