How to Write a Strong Cover Letter as a Nurse

laptop and notebook where someone is writing nursing cover letter
Written by
Lori Fuqua
Reviewed by
Miranda Kay, RN
January 9, 2024

Table of Contents

In today's healthcare job market with digital professional profiles and resume screening software tools, is a cover letter necessary? Cover letters for nursing jobs are effective—in certain situations—and here's why. 

A cover letter is your opportunity to speak directly to the person reading it, to engage their interest and persuade them that taking the time to interview you is worth their while. Resumes and online professional profiles all subscribe to a general format of chronologically listing skills and work experience, which is crucial information to demonstrate that you meet the requirements for the position. Still, they cannot make a targeted, personalized effort, which is where your cover letter steps up to the plate as your heavy hitter. 

In this guide, we'll explore when you should create a cover letter for nursing jobs, cover essential points and perspectives that you should include, review a nurse cover letter template, provide a nursing cover letter example, provide quick tips, and answer a few questions.

When Should You Do a Cover Letter for a Nursing Job?

With an industry-wide demand for nurses and nursing assistants, you may think hospitals and other healthcare facilities need you more than you need them. However, hiring managers will still be discerning even if your profession is in high demand. Whether or not you do a cover letter is entirely up to you. Nonetheless, as we've already discussed, the opportunity a cover letter provides to share insight and personalization can be to your benefit, particularly in the following situations:

  • When competition for the job is high: Stand out from the pack and draw their attention to you.
  • When you have gaps in your work history: In a resume, there isn't the space or context to explain any gaps in your work experience. Did you go back to school? Did you move? Did you become a parent or caregiver for someone in your family? Did you try another profession? A cover letter provides the perfect opportunity to explain.
  • When you want to transition to another department or work setting: You can make connections between your work experience in one facility and how you can apply those skills to the new setting or department. For example, a registered nurse with experience in a long-term care setting who wants to transition to working in a hospital setting can point out that their expertise in a long-term care facility requires strong communication skills with other clinicians, diligent documentation skills, and the ability to build patient rapport, all of which apply to a hospital setting.
  • When it is required: If you don’t submit a cover letter when the hospital or other facility requests it, odds are high that you’ll be automatically removed from the interview pool of candidates.

What Is a Good Cover Letter for a Nursing Job?

A solid cover letter for a nursing or nursing assistant job will incorporate the following three points:

  1. Why do you want this specific nursing job? 
  2. Why do you want to work for this particular employer?
  3. Why are you a prime candidate for this job?

Let's flesh those points out a bit.

Why Do You Want This Nursing Job?

New nurses and nursing assistants may feel at a disadvantage if they compare their resumes to those of colleagues with years of experience. Yet, a cover letter is an excellent tool to overcome that somewhat. Explore the question, "Why do I want to be a nurse or nursing assistant?" Those reasons and motivations are uniquely yours, and when put into words specific to the job you're applying for, they demonstrate your passion and character.

Seasoned nurses and nursing assistants can shine by showcasing their experience as a demonstration of their dedication to the work setting, unit, specialization, department, etc. If you're applying for a position in a new setting, specialty, or department, here is your opportunity to explain your ambitions and motivation so hiring managers don't automatically discount you when they glance at your resume.

Why Do You Want to Work for This Specific Employer?

Here is where you target your readers and assure them they are not one of one hundred reading the same cover letter. It's okay to use templates for your nursing resume cover letter—in fact, we'll get to that further down. However, what is not doing you any favors is for you to submit the same cover letter regardless of position and facility. It would help if you personalized it, wrote a little about why you want to work for that employer, and showed them that you've researched them and how your learning aligns with your personal or professional values. What should you search for? Try looking into the following:

  • What are the healthcare facility's mission and vision statements?
  • What does their website say about their work culture?
  • Have there been recent press releases about the facility?
  • Are they part of any new initiatives?
  • What is their relationship with the community?

Why Are You a Prime Candidate for the Job?

The resumes of experienced nurses and nursing assistants are fuller with skills and work experience, all of which may or may not apply to the job they are applying for, and some of which may be overlooked at a glance. Use your cover letter to draw the reader's attention to your specific skills and experiences that apply to the job and demonstrate your worth as a candidate for the position.

New nurses and nursing assistants can reframe their newness and lack of experience to an advantage because their mindset is one of openness to learning. You are on the cusp of attaining your goal of putting your education into practice, which can translate into enthusiasm, determination, and adaptability.

Nursing (RN, LPN, CNA) Cover Letter Templates

The header of your cover letter should have the following:

  • The header formatting should match the design of your resume. 
  • The header should state your full name (as it appears on your license or certification) followed by your credentials. 
  • The header should display your town or city and state of residence. 
  • The header should state your phone number and email address. 

Next up, you'll address the letter to the recipient and healthcare facility directly by including the following:

  • Date of sending or submitting the cover letter
  • Recipient name and department (if there is no specific point of contact for the position, specify the department)
  • Healthcare facility name
  • Healthcare facility address
  • Healthcare facility phone number (specific to the person of contact for hiring if you have it)
  • Healthcare facility email address (specific to the person of contact for hiring if you have it)

Following the recipient's contact info, you'll write the greeting and introduction paragraph. Your introduction paragraph is the introduction of you. Who are you, what position are you applying for, and where did you find the job? If someone referred you professionally, indicate who referred you to ensure the reader makes that connection.

After the introduction paragraph, you'll write a paragraph or two that focuses on your qualifications and experiences that can tie directly to the position for which you are applying. This point is crucial; don't just reiterate your resume experience; you need to specify experiences and connect them to the desired position.

For the closing paragraph, restate your interest in the position and express your desire to discuss your qualifications further in an interview. 

Nursing Cover Letter Example

We've taken everything from the above cover letter template and put it into an example.

Nancy Nurse, LPN

Wichita, KS | 316-300-1106 | [email protected]

December 20, 2023

Jackie Smith, Department of Nursing Recruitment

Evergreen Regional Hospital

1234 E. Main, Wichita, KS 12345


[email protected]

Dear Jackie Smith,

I'm excited to submit my application and resume for your consideration for the position of Licensed Practical Nurse at Evergreen Regional Hospital posted on your website. Evergreen Regional Hospital's mission to provide individualized patient-centered care aligns with my personal and professional values. That alignment, combined with my qualifications and experience, makes me an ideal candidate for the position. 

As an LPN at the Mayberry Family Clinic, I spend most of my time assisting Dr. Adams and Dr. Smith by conducting pediatric patient assessments, taking vitals, administering injections, wound care, and patient-family education for aftercare and prevention.

My prior three years of experience working in Memory Care at Beta Care Living helped me develop strong collaboration and communication skills with other nurses, clinicians, and physicians and sharpened my clinical skills in direct patient care for a high volume of residents with complex diagnoses and needs, all of which I believe are also crucial for a successful LPN in a hospital setting. I've developed a reputation as a compassionate and reliable nurse with my supervising nurses and residents' families through my commitment to resident care, demonstrated by my valuable insights for creating resident-specific care plans, dedicated patient care, and patient-family education.

I am confident I can be an asset to the Evergreen Regional Hospital team as my combined experience in working with pediatric patients, senior patients, and their families gives me the knowledge and capability to work with patients of all ages who come to the hospital. I look forward to hearing from you to discuss further how my qualifications can be put into practice, benefiting both patients and staff at Evergreen Regional Hospital.


Nancy Nurse, LPN

9 Quick Tips for Your Nursing Cover Letter

Regardless of your level of licensure or the job you are applying for, follow these tips for a cover letter that is effective and professional:

  1. Match the formatting, font, and design of your cover letter with that of your resume. The resume and cover letter should look like they belong together (despite being uploaded separately). 
  2. Have a professional email address. With your email address being front and center in the header of your cover letter and resume, everyone will see it. If your email address is anything other than your first and last name, sign up for a new one for job hunting. Understandably, only your first and last name may not be available on your chosen domain, so if you have to add numbers or a symbol, avoid being flowery or silly.
  3. Keep the cover letter length to one page. You'll only write three or four paragraphs with the header and recipient contact information at the top. Most recruiters or hiring managers will do a quick scan, so a second page is unlikely to be seen. 
  4. Write your cover letter in first-person narrative. First-person narrative means using "I," "my," "me," etc. This narrative is a divergence from your resume—which you should write in the third person—and traces back to how the cover letter is more personalized than the resume. 
  5. Keep it professional. Despite the first-person narrative and the insight into your character here, be careful to avoid familiarity and be professional.
  6. Resist the urge to copy/paste. Although you'll spotlight qualities and experiences already listed on your resume, you must present them differently. Copying what you've already written in your resume is monotonous and misses the point of the cover letter entirely.
  7. Do spell checks and grammar checks. Our brains can overlook small grammar and spelling errors when reading information we already know. Use the spell and grammar checks on Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or free online software such as Grammarly to be confident.
  8. Mix up your paragraph and sentence starts. Even though this letter is about you, if each sentence starts with the word "I," it will seem repetitive. If you're getting stuck with this tip, write everything first without worrying about how the sentences start, and then once finished, go back and read through it, looking for ways to switch it up.
  9. Avoid offering references upon request. That standard phrase is redundant; every hiring and recruiting manager knows they can request references.

Nursing Cover Letter Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Do I need a cover letter for per diem jobs at Nursa?

  1. No. Cover letters benefit long-term employment opportunities and are written specifically for the position and facility you are applying to. Often, RNs, LPNs, and CNAs on Nursa will pick up shifts at different facilities and settings, meaning a cover letter for your Nursa profile is unnecessary.

Q. Does working per diem shifts help my resume?

  1. Yes. Working per diem shifts can benefit nurses and nursing assistants because it demonstrates capability, adaptability, and versatility. 

Q. How can I tie in my per diem work to my cover letter?

  1. Capability, adaptability, and versatility are powerful traits in a nursing professional. Capitalize on those skills and explain how they can benefit your prospective employer. 

Q. Where can I find more cover letter samples for nurses and nursing assistants?

  1. Resume Genius has a variety of nursing cover letter examples that are useful for RNs, LPNs, and CNAs.

Q. Where can I find tips for writing a nurse or nursing assistant resume?

  1. Check out our article, Resume Tips for New Grads and Seasoned Nurses.


Blog published on:
January 9, 2024

Lori is a contributing copywriter at Nursa who creates compelling content focusing on location highlights, nurse licensing, compliance, community, and social care.

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