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Nursing self-evaluation is a ubiquitous experience among nursing professionals. While many healthcare employers require it, self-evaluation allows nurses to reflect on their performance, professional development, and other career elements.1

But how should new nurses approach the self-evaluation process, and how can seasoned nurses use the opportunity for career advancement? In this guide, we’re breaking down how to complete the process and offering nursing self-evaluation examples for reference.

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Why Self-Evaluation Matters in Nursing 

In a nursing self-evaluation, a nurse reflects on their clinical performance—typically in a written format. Self-evaluation questionnaires can include a variety of reflection prompts that audit your qualities as a nurse, such as:

  • How would you rate your clinical skills on a scale from one to ten?
  • Which personal characteristics inform your professional practice?
  • Explain your approaches to collaborative care with other healthcare team members.
  • What are your professional goals for the next twelve months, and how will you pursue them?

These prompts allow nurses to devote time and thought to their performance, aspirations, and more. But they also have other valuable purposes:

  • Conversation-starters with supervisors – Nurses can use self-evaluation responses to start ongoing conversations with their supervisors—about their skills, professional development, nursing career advancement, and more.
  • Weakness identification – Self-evaluations give nurses an opportunity to explore their professional weaknesses, which are parts of their approach that could use more refinement.
  • Compensation and advancement impacts – Some employers may use the self-evaluation process to springboard conversations about raises or promotions. 

For these reasons and more, nursing self-evaluations are critical to any healthcare career.

Nursing Self-Evaluation Examples 

Some of the most common themes discussed across nursing self-evaluations are:

  • Personal characteristics
  • Clinical skills and competencies
  • Specific and meaningful contributions to the team or department
  • Additional job responsibilities
  • Career goals
  • The progress toward those career nursing goals
  • Professional development
  • Potential areas for improvement

Let’s break down how nurses could respond to these prompts and navigate the self-evaluation process productively.

Personal Characteristics

Nurses may be asked to assess personal characteristics like:

  • Bedside manner
  • Leadership abilities
  • Delegation skills
  • Temperament and demeanor
  • Reliability
  • Timeliness
  • Organization 

In some contexts, these characteristics are called “soft skills”—competencies that are key to healthcare professions but aren’t as cut-and-dried (or as easy to quantitatively measure) as clinical skills.

Here are a few examples of personal characteristics assessments nurses might provide on their self-evaluation:

My bedside manner is excellent; I take the time to get to know my patients so that I can provide them with personalized care and attention. I make an effort to provide personal comfort. 

My leadership abilities could use refinement. While I’m comfortable working with my teammates, I’d like to be more confident in presenting new ideas, delegating tasks, or providing constructive feedback to my peers.

I am skilled at delegating tasks to my team. I can efficiently provide patient care by prioritizing tasks by time sensitivity and assigning roles based on my teammates’ strengths.

Clinical Skills and Competencies

In most nursing self-evaluations, nurses are prompted to reflect on their clinical skills—“hard skills” that require practice and expertise. Here are a few examples of how a nurse might explore their clinical competencies:

I am highly proficient with IV administration. Efficient, comfortable needle insertions and ongoing monitoring of IV lines are some of my greatest clinical strengths.

My skills in charting could improve; I need to provide more detailed qualitative observations relevant to the care team.

I deeply understand medicine contraindications and take pride in my ability to assess risks vs. rewards for procedures and treatments on a patient-by-patient basis.

Specific and Meaningful Contributions

Nurses may be asked to identify any unique contributions to their team or department. One guiding question can help nurses identify potential contributions: What have I personally improved in this care environment? 

Let’s take a look at some example responses:

During my time in the ICU, I’ve improved the reporting process. I've made the process more efficient and streamlined by creating a checklist for nurses to use while giving reports. This has resulted in more detailed information transfer and improved patient care.

My investment in team morale has had a tangible impact on the work environment. By implementing dress-up days, team-building events, and peer mentoring, I’ve improved camaraderie and professional relationships in the NICU.

My commitment to consistency in patient bathing has resulted in improved patient demeanor and general cleanliness of the pediatrics unit at [Hospital Name]. Even though it takes time (and sometimes convincing) to bathe patients daily, the entire team has followed my lead and equally prioritized patient cleanliness and comfort.

Additional Job Responsibilities

Nursing self-evaluations are an excellent opportunity to explore how additional responsibilities affect nurses’ primary goals. Some additional responsibilities to discuss include:

  • Managing supplies
  • Liaising with patients’ families
  • Participating in interviews with prospective new teammates
  • Educating patients about their conditions

Here are examples of how a nurse might discuss their additional job responsibilities in a self-evaluation:

My attention to detail helps me hold my peers accountable for proactively managing supplies like linens, hand sanitizer, and other consumables. 

While educating patients and their families is an enriching part of my position, I could do this more efficiently if the rest of the care team held patient education equally.

I think that my participation in interviews with prospective teammates leads to better hiring outcomes for the department, and I’d like to continue representing the nursing staff in this capacity.

Career Goals

Self-evaluations offer nurses an opportunity to discuss their overall career goals—how they’d like to improve their skills, expand their nursing knowledge, or advance in the department. These reflections can help supervisors provide more individualized mentorship to help nurses reach their goals. 

Some examples of career goal reflections include:

I’d like to continue progressing in the department, and I’m focusing on developing my leadership skills in hopes of receiving a promotion in the next twelve months.

I’m satisfied with my current position, and I’m not interested in advancing at this time. Instead, I’d like to refine my bedside manner and organizational skills.

In the next five years, I’d like to complete another nursing education program to pursue a career in critical care.

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Progress Toward Goals

In addition to noting their career goals, some nurses may comment on their progress toward those goals—how their current actions at work and support from supervisors are paving the way forward.

That reflection could look like one of the following:

I feel that I’m progressing toward my goal of promotion at a reasonable pace. However, I think more direct supervision and guidance from my manager would help me refine my skills more efficiently.

While I’m interested in refining my skills, the department is too short-staffed for me to focus intently on upskilling and improvements; more nursing support on the ward would give every staff member a chance to focus more on their professional development.

I’m struggling to progress toward my goal of completing a nurse practitioner program because I’m not sure where to go next. I’d like to shadow someone in my ideal position or seek mentorship from one of my supervisors to develop an actionable plan.

Professional Development

Nurses may be asked to weigh in on a variety of professional development topics as part of their self-evaluation, like:

  • Availability of professional development opportunities in their healthcare system
  • The relevance of the professional development opportunities available
  • Their interest in or motivation to pursue professional development

Let’s take a look at an example of a response to each of these types of prompts:

I’m satisfied with the amount and quality of professional development training sessions at [facility]. I feel that I’m taking advantage of the ample opportunities available and learning valuable skill sets that improve my care competencies.

While I’m pleased that the department is offering professional development, I think the topics and skills offered could be more relevant to the nursing staff or their career advancement.

While I’m interested in pursuing professional development opportunities, staffing difficulties on the unit have made it difficult for me to find time in my schedule to accommodate professional development.

Identifying Areas for Improvement

Perhaps the most ubiquitous prompt in nursing self-evaluations is to discuss potential areas of improvement. When reflecting, nurses should consider all of the skills they need to succeed in their work, including:

  1. Hard skills – IV administration, charting, vitals monitoring
  2. Soft skills – Bedside manner, patient education, delegation

Here are examples of how nurses might discuss these areas for improvement in a self-evaluation:

I would like to refine my skills in charting, especially learning shortcuts and other efficiency strategies in our digital charting software. While I take excellent notes, I would like to speed up this process to recover time for direct patient care.

My bedside manner doesn’t seem to be compatible with older patients. I’d like to work on finding strategies that can help me communicate with this population more effectively.

I’m interested in learning how to delegate tasks so that I can provide the best possible care for patients. I’m open to feedback from my supervisors and peers that could help me develop these skills.

Tips for Conducting a Productive Nursing Self-Evaluation 

As nurses complete their self-evaluations, a few tips can help them use these reflection opportunities productively:

  • Set clear goals – Identify realistic, actionable goals and communicate them clearly.
  • Document challenges and achievements year-round – Keeping a log of progress and setbacks all year can refresh nurses’ memories and help them reflect on their past performance.
  • Regularly reflect – Instead of only reflecting during the self-evaluation, nurses should take an inventory of their career progress regularly.
  • Explore continuing education opportunities – Nurses should consider exploring professional development opportunities outside of their workplace—like the healthcare programs at Alliant International University.
  • Seek out feedback – Nurses looking to improve should regularly request feedback from their supervisors and consider potential improvements year-round.

Using Your Nursing Self-Evaluation to Your Advantage 

Nursing self-evaluations allow nurses to reflect on their progress, offer insight into their sentiments about the workplace, and identify new areas for growth. 

For nurses looking to advance their careers and refine key competencies, nursing programs are an excellent option. At Alliant International University, our nursing educators can help new and seasoned nurses excel in their careers and discover new opportunities. 

Learn more about our nursing and health sciences education programs to take the next step in your healthcare career.


Sources: 

  1. Herrity, J. “Nursing Self-Evaluation Examples and Tips.” Indeed. February 21, 2023. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/nursing-self-ev…. Accessed December 20, 2023.

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