17 Awesome Examples of SMART Goals for Nursing Students

In a career like nursing, you will be faced with many different obstacles and challenges that you must work to overcome. Because being a nurse is not easy and requires a lot of focus and dedication, you must have a good set of smart goals to manage your time effectively. This post will find some examples of SMART goals for nursing students that you can use for inspiration when creating your own personal plan-setting strategy.

But before we dive into examples, let’s explore smart goals and their benefits so you can understand their importance.

What Are SMART Nursing Goals?

The nursing goal is similar to the more common goals that you might find elsewhere, but there are some key differences. SMART is an acronym that stands for five critical characteristics of practical goals:


Your goal should include all of the essential details about what your goal is, and what needs to be done to complete it. For example, instead of simply writing down “I am going to get better grades”, you would write down something like “I will study every day after school with my study guide until I get 100% on our midterm exam.” This could also include relevant dates of when the work must be finished by. 


Your goals need to have some metrics associated with them so you can keep track of your progress. For example, if you write down “I am going to get better grades”, there is no way of knowing exactly how well you are doing compared to before. Making your goal measurable can help avoid this.

If you were to instead write down: “I will study every day after school with my study guide until I get 100% on our midterm exam”, then it would be possible for you to know how well you are doing because you could record the date when you completed the exam and markdown your grade when you receive it.


Your goals need to resonate with your current academic and future nursing endeavors. If your academic standing is precarious (e.g., if your grades are not meeting the required standards), your goals should be pertinent and strategically designed to turn around your academic trajectory. Setting goals that directly relate to and support your progress in your nursing program will ensure that your efforts are concentrated and meaningful.


This means that your goals should be something that you can actually achieve, given all of the resources and support available to you. For example, if there is no way for you to get into a nursing program right now because it requires an advanced degree, then working towards becoming a nurse right now would not be very realistic. You don’t want to set yourself up for failure by picking a goal you can’t hope to accomplish because of something out of your control.


This just means that your goal has some definitive deadline by which it must be completed. Otherwise, when will the plan be attained? A good example would be “I will study every day after school with my study guide until I get 100% on our midterm exam.”

Getting into the habit of making things time-bound is also a good idea in general, since time management skills are going to be very important if you want to become a medical professional.

Bringing It All Together

When you have brilliant and short-term goals in mind, it will be much easier for you to plan out the steps you need to take to achieve your ultimate objective. It’s all about being well-informed and making the most out of your time.

Small goals might have a time frame of a month. Larger ones might extend that time frame to a year. Again, choose something that is attainable but still a challenge. Often, people or businesses set unrealistic goals for themselves that only lead to failure.

That’s why you need to follow the framework of the 5 steps above to help you create a plan that you’ll have a better chance of achieving. With that being said, let’s go into some sample goals that are practical for nursing students everywhere.

17 Examples of SMART Goals for Nursing Students

SMART goals examples are an excellent tool for both nursing students and nursing assistants. They can be used for a variety of purposes. It is not just a goal-setting system used by nurses. You can start by choosing one of these goals and making it more specific to you, or let these serve as inspiration and create your own! Check out these 17+ examples of SMART goals for nurses to get your creativity flowing.

Patient Care

The first category is excellent patient care. These are goals that have to do with caring for patients in the hospital or at home. They include goals for nursing evaluations. You can create a treatment plan or do something different like:

  • I will provide excellent, compassionate care to my clients by making them feel safe and comfortable at all times throughout their stay.
  • I will develop a care plan for each patient that I see in my practice today. Each project will include specific nursing diagnoses, prioritized outcomes, possible interventions, and rationales for each intervention, including expected results. 

Community Outreach/Education

These types of goals pertain to outreach and education about health topics related to nursing or the health conditions of patients you may encounter.

  • I will educate ten community members on the importance of flu vaccinations today by providing flyers from the CDC during flu season.
  • I will speak with two patients today about stress management to help them deal with anxiety, mental health issues, and depression.


These goals are typically appropriate for nurses who are in charge nurse, nurse manager, or other leadership roles within a workplace setting.

  • I will complete my first competency as a charge nurse by leading three medications today according to our hospital’s policy and procedure manual using proper labeling methods.
  • I will work alongside my team member who is struggling to take 30-minute lunch breaks each day to develop a plan to help him accomplish this task. Next week, I will also follow up on this plan to make sure he has been successful.

Professional Development/Knowledge

These professional goals may be used for nurses who are seeking to develop more knowledge about their profession or read about new information so they can stay abreast of what is required in their jobs.

  • This month, I will set aside time to learn about the latest evidence-based practices that have proven successful for wound care interventions. 
  • I will read nursing journals to improve my nursing skills and implications on the nursing profession.
  • I will initiate at least 2 casual and short conversations with my coworkers or patients to practice my interpersonal skills.

These types of goals are helpful if you are trying to plan your career path as a nurse. You may also want to make these types of goals if you’re going to become an influential figure in some aspect of healthcare (i.e. nursing leadership, public health, education).

  • I will take the ASN exam by January 1st. I will review my experience with the Praxis exam and what I learned to help me in this process along the way.
  • I want to become an influential figure in healthcare, so I will read two articles about people who have made significant contributions in their fields each week.
  • At the end of the year, I will review each article’s points that relate to influence and record how these apply to my career goals moving forward.
  • I will research 1 RN program every weekday after dinner, so I can begin working towards becoming a registered nurse.


These are goals that don’t necessarily pertain to your career as a nurse but are geared towards becoming more knowledgeable about things or people surrounding the nursing profession like patient care, managing money, etc.

  • This year, I will attend four movies with my friends where nursing is an integral part of the storyline.
  • I will review all of my bills by January 1st and set up automatic monthly payments for all of them, so I never have to worry about late fees again.
  • I will delete my Facebook account without changing any security settings so outside influences cannot impact how I spend time online anymore.  

Workplace Efficiency

When it comes to the workplace, efficiency goals are essential to consider if you are trying to become more efficient at your job. Due to the Affordable Care Act, many hospitals have made some changes, including shorter patient stays, minor nurse-to-patient ratio requirements, etc.

  • I will read about these changes on Friday night of this week, and prepare myself for all of the new processes that come with them to be an effective employee.
  • I will schedule all non-emergency meetings early in the morning so they do not interfere with my ability to complete all patient care activities throughout the day.
  • After five years of employment at this hospital, I will start a master’s degree program that CCNE accredits because I would like to learn more about critical care nursing.

Nursing students face a lot of challenges to accomplish their goals because they do not have a lot of control over many aspects of their learning experience. For that reason, it is even more critical for students to set SMART goals because these can help them focus on what is most relevant and meaningful when trying to achieve success in school.

One thing to remember is always to create short-term nursing goals, first achieve them, and then move to the next. You have to move step by step.

Write Your SMART Goals Down!

The best way to make sure your goals are smart is to write them down so you can review them often. When writing down your goals, be as specific as possible about what you want to accomplish and how you will go about doing so. Be detailed in your plans of action and consider the steps it will take for you to achieve each goal. Also, try to keep them concise by removing unnecessary words or phrases.

10 Bonus Examples of SMART Goals for Nursing Students

  1. Clinical Skills Enhancement: Improve intravenous (IV) insertion skills by practicing on simulation arms and successfully performing 5 error-free insertions on patients under supervision by the end of the clinical rotation.
  2. Academic Excellence: Achieve a grade of 90% or higher on all pharmacology exams this semester by dedicating 3 hours per week to study, including group study sessions and utilizing online resources for quiz practice.
  3. Professional Development: Attend at least two professional nursing seminars or workshops on pediatric care within the next 6 months to enhance my understanding of current practices, and to network with experienced professionals.
  4. Patient Communication: Develop effective patient communication skills by conducting patient interviews under supervision, and receiving instructor feedback on at least 10 different occasions before the end of the term.
  5. Time Management: Master time management by prioritizing tasks and utilizing a digital planner, aiming to complete all assignments at least two days before the deadline for the upcoming semester.
  6. Research Competency: Contribute to nursing research by assisting in the data collection for a faculty-led study and completing a 20-page literature review on the chosen topic within the next 4 months.
  7. Health Assessment Proficiency: Conduct 30 comprehensive patient health assessments in a clinical setting with 100% accuracy on documentation, to be achieved within the next 8 weeks.
  8. Professional Certifications: Obtain Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certifications by enrolling in the courses now and completing them within the next 3 months.
  9. Community Service: Participate in community health outreach programs for at least 20 hours over the next semester to better understand public health issues and practice health education.
  10. Leadership Skills: Take on a leadership role in a student nursing organization, aiming to lead a team in organizing at least one educational event or initiative by the end of the academic year.

Each goal is designed to be attainable within a set time frame and can help you, as a nursing student, with your nursing education and future career, while providing you with a clear measure of success. By focusing on these areas, you can aim for a well-rounded skill set that prepares you for both the demands of your studies and the challenges of clinical practice.

Final Thoughts on SMART Goals for Nursing Students:

Now that you have SMART nursing goals examples, hopefully, you will use these to help set your personal goals for this new year. Following the guidance in this blog post will ensure that your goals provide value and consistency in all aspects of your life, both during and after school. With that, don’t forget to share this with your fellow nursing school study group!

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1 thought on “17 Awesome Examples of SMART Goals for Nursing Students”

  1. SMART goals – great topics for nursing students, and clear and distinguishable enough to incorporate. This is a great description!

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