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Nursing Cover Letter Example

Use this Nursing cover letter example to finish your application and get hired fast – no frustration, no guesswork. This cover letter example is specifically designed for Nursing positions in 2022. Take advantage of our sample sentences + expert guides to download the perfect cover letter in just minutes.
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Nursing Cover Letter Example
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Whether you’re an experienced RN or are just finishing nursing school, you’re looking at a job market that desperately needs you. And if you’re going to put your own health on the line to heal others, you deserve the best nursing job you can get. An exceptional nursing cover letter is essential to stand out among other qualified applicants pursuing the same positions you seek.

At resume.io, we are specialists at helping people find the jobs that are right for them. Our resources include an extensive collection of occupation-specific writing guides and corresponding cover letter examples. We also offer resume writing tools, informative blogs and field-tested templates to help you create both types of job application documents.

What you are reading here is a detailed guide to one crucial part of the job hunt equation — the cover letter (also known as an application letter). Here’s what we will discuss in this writing guide, backed by a nursing cover letter example:

  • The current job role and outlook for nurses
  • Why a cover letter is a critical companion to an outstanding resume
  • How your nursing cover letter should be structured and formatted
  • How to optimize the impact of each cover letter section: header, greeting, introduction, body and closing
  • The psychology behind writing that triggers both a rational and an emotional response
  • How to make your job application an irresistible pitch that no employer will ignore.

Today's outlook for nurses

As a nurse you are a heroic first responder on the front lines of the battle against all that ails us. And your superpower has never been needed more. Even back in 2018, health-care jobs in the United States surpassed manufacturing and retail to become the largest source of employment in the country. During the global coronavirus pandemic, much has been made of which jobs are essential — but yours is at the top of the list. 

A recent headline at healthaffairs.org says “There Are Not Nearly Enough Nurses To Handle The Surge Of Coronavirus Patients.” This article notes that even if we could double the number of beds in intensive care units, we don’t have nearly enough nurses to staff them. And even though some nurses can be moved to ICUs to care for critically ill COVID-19 patients, this will create shortages in other departments of the hospital where nurses are still desperately needed. 

Another problem is that currently nurses may be evenly distributed among the overall population, yet the coronavirus outbreak is much worse in some places than others. This may create a need for a migration of nurses to the places they are needed most. 

Yet another issue is that 15% of nurses have children but don’t have family members to care for them. The closure of schools and day-care centers during the pandemic made it very difficult for them to keep showing up for work. All of this portends an unprecedented state of flux in the nursing profession — a demand for nursing that is rapidly outpacing the supply.  The American Nurses Association says that by 2022, there will be 100,000 available jobs for registered nurses, more than any other profession.

Even back in 2018, health-care jobs in the United States surpassed manufacturing and retail to become the largest source of employment in the country. 

Nursing - What we will discuss
Nursing - What we will discuss

Why you need a nursing cover letter

The purpose

A cover letter for anyone seeking a nursing job is a one-page pitch that is submitted along with a resume. The goal is to introduce yourself to a potential employer while highlighting the nursing experience, skills and qualities that make you ideal for the job. It’s also a personal appeal — you are asking for a job, after all, not demanding one. Think of it as a way of starting a friendly conversation with an individual who is in a position to hire a nurse like you.

You’ve heard of the “elevator pitch” — you have the opportunity to get on an elevator with a VIP who is looking to make a hire. You have precious few seconds to introduce yourself, establish a friendly connection, express your interest in the nursing job and explain why you would make an ideal candidate. When you hear a “Ding,” your time is up because this executive will get off the elevator. 

The challenge is to make such a positive impression, in a very brief window in time, that this executive wants your contact info and will actually call you later. This is essentially what the nursing cover letter is all about — it’s an elevator pitch in writing. Rather than just send this exec a resume, you have made a personal introduction that is far more likely to trigger a personal and emotional response.

Statistical insight

In a recent survey conducted by the Harris Poll for CareerBuilder, 1,138 hiring managers were asked about job applicants’ top resume mistakes that were instant deal-breakers. Among the seven top deal breakers, 10% said it was the failure to include a cover letter. Some job postings may not require a cover letter, but you should always include one unless you are specifically asked not to. The cover letter is your best way to establish a personal connection with the hiring manager, and it should almost never be omitted.

A few writing rules

A cover letter is usually between 200 and 400 words long, and should never exceed one page. Recent nursing graduates often try to make up for a lack of resume experience by writing long, expounding cover letters that dive into every possible corner of their educational journey. Unfortunately, this can be an automatic “out” in the eyes of many employers. Instead, focus on creating a strong argument by selecting only a handful of convincing points and carrying these themes throughout the letter. 

It’s also very important to follow basic formatting and font guidelines when drafting your cover letter. Stick to trusted font styles like Georgia, Calibri, Helvetica and Arial  with a size between 10 and 12 points. A whimsical font like comic sans might seem tempting, but it’s a big no-go. You can find more details about styling in this general cover letter writing guide. 

Remember, at the end of the day a nursing cover letter is all about maximizing your chances. Any spelling or grammar errors, wacky fonts or messy formatting will distract a hiring manager from your main purpose and bring down the likelihood of landing the position. 

Best format for a nursing cover letter

A good cover letter for nurses, or virtually any other occupation, will follow the same basic structure:

  • Cover letter header
  • Greeting
  • Introduction
  • Body of the letter
  • Conclusion
  • Signature
Adaptable cover letter example

Dear Dr. Rowntree,

I write to express an interest in your accelerated nurse midwifery programme for recently-qualified CNMs. During my seven-year nursing career, I have always sought to learn from the best, and there is no better place than at Mount Bisai.

After graduating with a BSN from NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing I worked as a licensed RN for four years and then decided to take my Masters in Nurse Midwifery. I passed my CNM two years ago, and as a relatively recent Certified Nurse Midwife, I am conscious that the learning process has now firmly moved into the delivery room.

A broad range of experience from prenatal to delivery and postpartum care ensures that I can make a difference in terms of caring for my patients’ needs. I have worked with obstetricians on 150+ complicated cases and while I have a firm grounding in high-risk conditions, I am keen to take on more theory and practice at Mount Sinai. I was commended for lowest rates of c-sections amongst my graduating cohort and I believe that my empathetic interpersonal skills and caring patient advocacy have been central in not losing a baby thus far. Sadly, it happens, but I am driven to do everything that I can in my power for it not to be on my watch.

Education is an important aspect of the birthing journey and I strive to take every opportunity to advise around nutrition, exercise, rest and general wellness. Nine months is a long time to care for a baby inside you.

Every day matters. I have 90 letters of recommendation from new parents – many of which focus on how my prenatal efforts have contributed to a sense of calm preparedness when it is time for baby to arrive.

I would welcome a chance to get to know your maternity team and glimpse what I might be like to work with you. I love the job and I want to be the best midwife that I can be.

Yours sincerely,
Jackie Elise

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Nursing - Best format for  a cover letter
Nursing - Best format for  a cover letter

Cover letter header

Perhaps the silliest mistake you could make in a cover letter (or a resume) would be to leave out your contact information, so the employer has no idea how to reach you. If submitting by email, you might think the employer could simply hit “Reply.” But if your email is forwarded or printed to share with other decision-makers, your email address could easily get lost. Don’t make it difficult for employers to figure out how to reach you or you could lose out on that nursing job. 

Your name, phone number, email address (and optionally your snail-mail address, if required) should appear at the very top of your cover letter, in the header, also known as a letterhead. In addition to providing crucial information about how to contact you, the header should be attractively designed to grab the reader’s eye, and to provide white space that breaks up the solid black paragraphs of text that follow. 

In addition, many good letterheads will put your name top and center in the largest font on the page, demonstrating your confidence and making it easier for employers to remember you.

Expert tip

Align document styles

Use the same fonts, font sizes and formatting styles in your cover letter and your resume. An employer should be able to hold your cover letter in one hand and your resume in the other and see at a glance that they came from the same person. This kind of consistency shows that you’re organized and you pay attention to detail. It gives you a visual brand and makes you more memorable. The writing style in your resume and cover letter should also be similar, though you should beware of repeating the same phrases in the two.

Goal of the cover letter header: Stand out from other nursing candidates with a distinctive-looking header that identifies who you are and how recruiters can reach you.

Cover letter greeting

This simply refers to the “Dear Xxxxx” portion of your letter. Many years ago, the universal guideline was to write “Dear Mr. Smith:” (ending in a colon), or if the recipient was unknown, “Dear Sir or Madam:”. (But you should avoid the old-school, gender-specific “Gentlemen:”.) In many ways, email has changed the way greetings are written, tending to make them less formal, and often ending in a comma rather than colon. But beware of adopting a tone that is too casual in a formal business letter addressed to people you don’t know.

Expert tip

If you know the name of the person who is making the hiring decisions, use it in the greeting. People like to see their own names, and this practice proves that you are not sending out a generic cover letter to various recipients. Lean toward using the last name: “Dear Mr. Brown:”. If it’s a woman, beware of “Miss” or “Mrs.” and go with “Ms.” Of course, if you’re writing to a doctor of either gender, go with the title “Dr.” 

In some cases, it’s impossible to tell from a name whether the person is male or female — it could be a British woman named Jean (Jeen) or a Frenchman named Jean (Zhan). In such a case, you might look for this person’s picture online, or you might simply call the company and ask if Jean (or Alex, Chris, Dale or Sam) is a man or a woman. If you have no idea, your best fallback might be to break the last-name rule and simply write Dear Jean:”. However, some companies take pains to obscure the name of the actual hiring manager, and they might find it a bit disturbing if you’ve gone to great lengths to figure it out. In such cases, the best approach is often to make your greeting more generic, for example, “Dear XYZ team.”

Goal of the cover letter greeting: Start off by directly addressing the reader in a friendly, professional manner.

Adaptable cover letter greeting example

Dear Dr. Rowntree,

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Cover letter introduction

“I am writing….” Hold it! They already know why you are writing. If you hadn’t been writing, they wouldn’t have your letter in front of them. Search and destroy the phrase “I am writing” from every cover letter you send. Your cover letter introduction is absolutely crucial — you need to hit the ground running with one bold and sincere sentence that both identifies the job you’re seeking and offers an early hint as to your qualifications.  Goal of the cover letter introduction: Lead off by emphasizing the value you would bring to this employer as an experienced and motivated nurse.

Adaptable cover letter introduction example

I write to express an interest in your accelerated nurse midwifery programme for recently-qualified CNMs. During my seven-year nursing career, I have always sought to learn from the best, and there is no better place than at Mount Bisai.

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Cover letter body 

This is where the rubber hits the road. You’ve introduced yourself, you’ve said what you do — now you get two, maybe three paragraphs to explain why you’re great at it. And you need to provide some facts to back it up. One useful method  is known by the acronym "STAR," which stands for “situation, task, action, result.” The simpler variation "CAR" stands for “context, action, result.” 

Describe situations/contexts you have faced in your career as a nurse, and use strong verbs to describe the actions you took and the positive results you achieved. Use facts and figures wherever possible to quantify your accomplishments — for example, how many babies did you help deliver during your time in the maternity ward? How many patients did you attend during your time in the ER?

Goal of the cover letter body: Build your case for being an ideal job candidate by highlighting key nursing career accomplishments and abilities.

Adaptable cover letter body example

After graduating with a BSN from NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing I worked as a licensed RN for four years and then decided to take my Masters in Nurse Midwifery. I passed my CNM two years ago, and as a relatively recent Certified Nurse Midwife, I am conscious that the learning process has now firmly moved into the delivery room.

A broad range of experience from prenatal to delivery and postpartum care ensures that I can make a difference in terms of caring for my patients’ needs. I have worked with obstetricians on 150+ complicated cases and while I have a firm grounding in high-risk conditions, I am keen to take on more theory and practice at Mount Sinai. I was commended for lowest rates of c-sections amongst my graduating cohort and I believe that my empathetic interpersonal skills and caring patient advocacy have been central in not losing a baby thus far. Sadly, it happens, but I am driven to do everything that I can in my power for it not to be on my watch.

Education is an important aspect of the birthing journey and I strive to take every opportunity to advise around nutrition, exercise, rest and general wellness. Nine months is a long time to care for a baby inside you.

Every day matters. I have 90 letters of recommendation from new parents – many of which focus on how my prenatal efforts have contributed to a sense of calm preparedness when it is time for baby to arrive.

Copied!

Cover letter conclusion and signature

Your conclusion should suggest a call to action — you are eager to hear back, you would be delighted to schedule an interview, or perhaps you propose to give your target a call next week. Here you need to come off as determined, confident and decisive, without sounding entitled or presumptuous. End on a strong note, leaving no doubt in your reader’s mind that you are serious about this job and that you should be taken seriously as a nursing candidate.

Goal of the cover letter closing: End with a call to action that implies you expect a response from recruiters.

Adaptable cover letter conclusion and signature example

I would welcome a chance to get to know your maternity team and glimpse what I might be like to work with you. I love the job and I want to be the best midwife that I can be.

Yours sincerely,
Jackie Elise

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The psychology of writing a nursing cover letter

Getting the tone right

In his best-selling book “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” the Nobel Prize-winning theorist Daniel Kahneman outlined two ways people think. The “fast” way is emotional, automatic and unconscious — like making a disgusted face when you’re shown a gruesome image. The “slow” way is more logical, conscious and calculating — like digging deep into your memory to recognize a once-familiar sound. 

The faster, more emotional way of thinking governs most of our daily thought processes, but the slower, more deliberative style is what it might take, for example, for a hiring manager to read a letter carefully and say, “This sounds like a great nursing candidate.” 

Emotional responses can actually trigger more deliberative responses. This is why it’s important to use a certain amount of emotional, passionate language in your letter — speaking to the heart, as it were, rather than to the head. This will grab your reader’s attention and make him or her slow down and read more closely.

Expert tip

One way to use this insight is by using emotional language as bookends — opening with emotion, switching to facts and closing with emotions. For example:

In my previous nursing jobs, I’ve always been known for having a “big heart,” and for engaging with patients from a deep sense of compassion, as if they were my own family. (This is emotional language.) Yet my experience and seniority have also made me the no-nonsense, go-to person in my unit when other nurses need advice, and even doctors frequently consult with me on treatment regimens. (This is factual language.) What I love about this job is seeing great patient outcomes — and seeing the joy on the faces of family members when medical intervention achieves desirable results. (This is emotional language again, bookending the factual language.)

Tone of voice

Every cover letter should be unique, tailored to a specific recipient. Study your target, scour its website and social media posts, and familiarize yourself with the kind of language it uses and the image it projects. Then strive to make your tone match the tone of the company you’re targeting. Health-care providers deal with life-and-death issues, so they will typically use a serious, formal tone in addressing their market. Yet watch for the nuances of how they do so, and style your letter accordingly.

Two important things to bear in mind: 

  1. If you’re responding to a specific nursing job listing, study it like it’s gospel. Look at the requirements and qualifications, understand the company’s needs, and make sure you address these specifically in your cover letter.
  2. Keep it short. Hiring managers are busy people — they don’t want to read your novella. You get one page, so make it count with a proper mix of emotional and factual language. Less is often more, so cover the bases but leave your reader curious to learn more about you.

Nursing cover letter for a first job

How do you write a cover letter without experience? The short answer is that as a registered nurse, you do have experience, and it's probably more than you realize! During your training, you spent time in clinical settings working with nursing supervision. That counts as your first job. You may have had jobs unrelated to nursing as well. These have transferrable skills that you can detail in your letter. 

Use the same format of emotion, facts, emotion, but be honest about your desire to take your first role as an RN. Many employers seek out nurses new to the career because they are excited by their first opportunity and are up on all the latest nursing information. Also remember that nurses are in high demand, so you have a great chance of snagging a great job right out of school. Just make sure you don't overstate your experience or come off as too eager. Maintain a professional tone at all times.

Below is a sample sentence from a nursing cover letter for a first job.

Adaptable nursing cover letter example for a first job

My nursing training proved to me that I have chosen the right career and I am eager to begin contributing to excellent patient care as a registered nurse.

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Resume Examples - Nursing - Example
Resume Examples - Nursing - Example

Nursing cover letter fails

Here are some of the common mistakes people make in writing cover letters:

  • Bad spelling, grammar and punctuation can absolutely derail your chances of landing an interview. Proper English is not optional. If English is not your long suit, consider finding an editor to proofread your letters.
  • Formatting errors and bad fonts. Many text editors will result in buggy letter formats and strange-looking headers. Even the choice of font can be problematic. The templates and tools we offer at resume.io are your best bet to sidestep all these problems.
  • White space is your friend. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because you get one page, you have to fill it with black text top to bottom and side to side. Your visual style should be an eye-pleasing mix of text and blank space, not too dense and not too sparse. Using professional tools is your best way to make sure you get this right.
  • Avoid clichés, and don’t write like a robot. We’ve already mentioned the biggest cover letter cliché, “I am writing….” Also, please don’t say you’re a “self-starter” or a “team player.” Use forceful, original language, and write like a human being. Do not say, for instance: In consideration of your listing for a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), I would like St. John’s Hospital to consider the candidacy of a professional, experienced health-care provider such as myself. Keep it real — the way a normal person speaks — and avoid word bloat.
Expert tip

The best way to avoid all these mistakes is to use one of the field-tested cover letter templates and professional guidance at resume.io. We can’t write the letter for you, but we will take the guesswork out of this crucial element of your job application.

Resume Examples - Nursing - Common mistakes
Resume Examples - Nursing - Common mistakes
How to format a cover letter in 2022: examples and tips
Related article
How to format a cover letter in 2022: examples and tips

Take your career growth to a new level with these 10 expert tips to writing and formatting the best cover letter.

Key takeaways

  1. Your cover letter is your personal introduction to a hiring manager, and your “elevator pitch” explaining why you’re the right candidate for the job.
  2. Unless you’re specifically asked not to submit a cover letter, always consider the cover letter an essential part of a job application.
  3. Follow proper cover letter structure and make sure each portion of your letter achieves what it’s supposed to.
  4. Use emotional language to trigger a personal response, offset by factual and rational language that positions you as the right candidate.
  5. Use the right tone of voice, avoid clichés and make sure your English usage is flawless.
  6. Avoid formatting traps — don’t “wing it” by using your own text editor, quirky design or unusual fonts.
Nursing - Key takeaways
Nursing - Key takeaways
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