15 Examples of SMART Goals for Nursing Students

DataUSA reported that in 2017 (the most recent year recorded), 237,915 nursing students graduated from nursing school. For many students, nursing school is extremely challenging, whether in an associate or bachelor’s program.

Smart goals for nursing students

Pursuing a nursing career requires a tremendous amount of discipline and time. Nursing students learn about the human body and how to care for the sick and injured. They also learn how to care for their patients’ emotional, mental, and spiritual health.


The SMART Goal Approach for Your Nursing Career

According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), approximately 200,000 nursing students graduate each year.

In fact, the waiting list to get into a nursing program either at a community college, nursing school, or a university is long. Some people wait a few years to get into school. Nursing is one of the most lucrative jobs in the healthcare field.

Once you enroll in nursing school, you need to put your best foot forward and give your education 110%.

The best way to get through nursing school successfully is by setting goals. Your goals will keep you motivated and focused.

Using the SMART goals system is a great way to stay on top of your goals and accomplish them. Let’s look at what SMART goals are all about.

  • Specific: What are the exact steps you are going to take to accomplish the goal? This is where you build your blueprint of steps to reaching your goal.
  • Measurable: Include measurable data such as dates and specific milestones to track your progress.
  • Attainable: Goals should be challenging but within reach. Break up your goals into smaller steps. That way, you can still reach bigger goals that seem unattainable at the time.
  • Realistic: Your goals have to align with your current situation. 
  • Timely: Setting goals won’t have the full effect if there are no deadlines.

Examples of SMART Nursing Student Objectives

For the remainder of this post, we will look at SMART example goals for nursing students.

Simple Goal: I want to be able to complete all my long-term projects on time.

SMART Goal: I will begin the project the same day I receive it and will work on it every day for a designated period until it is complete.

See Also: 25+ Examples of SMART Goals for Nurses

Simple Goal: I want to pass every exam, even the surprise ones.

SMART Goal: I will study and reread the chapter we have most recently completed after completing any reading or assignments assigned for the next class.

Simple Goal: I want to get all the answers correct on my exams.

SMART Goal: After I complete all the assignments for the next class. I will spend at least an hour or two every day reviewing my notes from the first class.

Related: SMART Goals for Nursing Students During Preceptorship

Simple Goal: I want to have a quick and easy way to study without reading and reviewing common knowledge or stuff I already know and will not forget.

SMART Goal: I will make flashcards that only include the essential information from my notes and textbook. For example, on one side of the index card, I will write a short, understandable answer, and on the other side, I will write the question. I will then read through all the index cards as often as possible. 

Simple Goal: I want to improve my communication skills.

SMART Goal: I will practice listening closely to what people are saying to me, and if I do not understand, I will ask for clarification. When I have spoken to a person, I will ask them if they understood or rephrase it if necessary.

Related: 10 Achievable Examples of Nursing Career Goals

Simple Goal: I want to explain things to my patients in a way they understand what I am telling them.

SMART Goal: During nursing school, I will learn several terms, and I will also have to learn layman’s terms so that I will be able to communicate with my future patients so that they and their families understand. For every clinical or medical word, I will try to quickly come up with a word that means the same thing in layman’s terms. Instead of saying, “You have a fractured left arm,” Instead say “You broke your left arm”. 

Simple Goal: I want to improve my critical thinking skills.

SMART Goal: I will always take the time to think things through before I act. I will practice thinking about different scenarios and how they are connected and how they affect each other. As time goes on, I will get better and better at using my critical thinking skills. 

If I feel I am still not where I would like to be, I will take a critical thinking skills class.

Simple Goal: I want to improve my collaboration and teamwork skills.

SMART Goal: Nursing school requires a great deal of collaboration and teamwork to succeed. Instead of looking at my classmates as competitors, I will look at them as teammates, and together, we can all be successful. I may have to learn to control my competitiveness by looking at each situation differently. Each semester I have to remind myself that my nursing school success has nothing to do with someone else’s success in my class.  

Simple Goal: I want to develop cultural sensitivity.

SMART Goal: I will ask every patient if I need to consider any cultural beliefs or norms while taking care of them. Other students and my patients may come from many different cultural backgrounds. It is imperative to be sensitive to all people of different cultural norms, just as I would want others to treat me with the same cultural sensitivity as my peers and patients. 

Simple Goal: I want to improve my emotional stability.

SMART Goal: To improve my emotional stability, I will talk to my classmates and family and friends. I will speak to my classmates often during clinicals because they know what I’m going through. I will also talk to my family and friends daily for emotional support.

Working with sick and even terminally ill or severely injured patients who have been mentally and emotionally traumatized can be extremely hard for the nurse to care for without having excellent emotional stability. During your nursing career, you will have a list of patients who died or know them as the “ones” you never forget.

Related: Examples of SMART Goals for Nurse Practitioner Students

Simple Goal: I want to learn how to deal with stress during nursing school.

SMART Goal: To learn how to deal with the stress that deadlines, exams, and clinicals can cause, I will practice stress management such as meditation, exercise, make time for myself every day to do something I enjoy even if it’s only for an hour. I will get plenty of sleep at night, so I am refreshed and ready for the day.

Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.

Tony RoBbins

Simple Goal: I will practice time management skills.

SMART Goal: To master many assignments simultaneously, I will use a calendar and create study schedules and fill in all the dates and appointments about my personal life. Each week I will revisit plans and adjust my study routine and meetings outside of school. 

Simple Goal: I want to get the most out of my clinicals

SMART Goal: I will complete all my clinical assignments before each clinical rotation. I will also try to implement newly learned information during clinicals and develop at least two questions for my instructor to ensure progress in my learning and understanding of the material.

Simple Goal: I want to pass the NCLEX with flying colors. 

SMART Goal:  I want to pass the NCLEX with 75 questions. For that, I will sit down each day and take 10 NCLEX practice questions from the start of the first semester until taking the NCLEX. 

I will also time myself to prepare for the real-world scenario. 

Simple Goal: I want to stay healthy during these hectic years of nursing school 

SMART Goal: Despite nursing school being challenging and time-consuming, I will take time each day to practice healthy habits to stay as well as possible. I will work out daily, even if it’s only 15 minutes. I will take one day out of the week and meal prep for the week to keep my diet as healthy as possible.

Image: Natpaphat/123RF

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