Helping Nursing Students Set Personal & Professional Goals

Instructor: Alyssa Campbell

Alyssa is an active RN and teaches Nursing and Leadership university courses. She also has a Doctorate in Nursing Practice and a Master's in Business Administration.

The life of a nursing student is challenging, and often includes hours of studying, one or two quick meals throughout the day, and arduous preparation for the next clinical shift. Please read on to pick up some quick tips to stay on top of your professional student goals, as well as ensuring personal priorities.


As a nursing student, you are learning the professional and technical practice of caring for others. Often, the rigorous expectations of nursing programs lead to what feels like endless mountains of work leaving personal health and general wellbeing in a state of neglect. The solution? Set both personal and professional goals that compromise academic responsibility with the personal needs of you as an individual.

What is Goal Setting?

Goal setting is the process of identifying priorities and tasks that need to be taken care of, and establishing framework to support the mission. Have you ever had that Practical Assessment that you needed to study for and practice? Or how about that 10 pounds you picked up this past semester? Identifying what you wish to accomplish is only doing half of the work. Planning a strategy to accomplish the task or goal is even more important as figuring out what needs to be done.

The Strategy

1. Choose priorities and remain flexible. One person cannot take on the world. Ask yourself the general question, 'What is important?' Apply this question to both your work as a nursing student and to you as an individual. Create a list of the must-do's, and separate professional and person goals into columns. Are those columns close to being even? Accept that priorities in both the columns will constantly be shifting and changing, and remain flexible to those changes.

2. Create SMART goals. SMART is an acronym, or a tool, that can be used when establishing framework to accomplish your goals (

S- Specific. Ensure that your goal is specific to the task or the item you wish to accomplish. It should be simple enough to describe in a few short words or sentences.

M- Measureable. Your goal should have something measureable used to define success or failure.

A- Achievable. Remember that your goal should be something realistic. You cannot expect to thoroughly read an entire chapter in one hour.

R- Relevant. Make sure that the tasks you define to accomplish your goal are meaningful and not simply busy work.

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