SMART Goals for Nursing With Clear Examples

SMART goals for nursing

Goals provide a keen sense of motivation, direction, clarity, and a clear focus on every aspect of your career or (nurse) life.

You are letting yourself have a specific aim or target by setting clear goals for yourself.

There is a method called the SMART goal that is used by a lot of people to guide them in setting their goals. In this article, you are going to learn how to set up SMART goals for nursing with plenty of examples of SMART goals for nursing.

But first, let me tell you what the SMART goal is generally speaking.

The acronym SMART stands for the terms Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

All these five elements are the main parts of the SMART goal. This simple yet powerful method brings structure and ensures that your goals are within reason and are attainable.

The SMART goal helps you in defining what the “future state” of your goal would look like, and how it is to be measured.

SMART goals are:

  • Specific – clear, unambiguous, and well defined
  • Measurable – has a criterion that helps you measure your progress
  • Attainable – beyond reach and not impossible to achieve
  • Relevant – realistic and has relevance to your life or career
  • Time-Bound – well defined time, has a starting date and an ending date

Often, people or businesses set unrealistic goals for themselves that only lead to failure.

For instance, you may be a nurse practitioner and you set goals such as “I will be the best at _____.” This specific type of goal is vague and has no sense of direction in it.

Here is a thorough video from DecisionSkills that I encourage you to watch before continuing reading.

After the video, you’ll have a much better understanding of setting SMART goals for nursing.

Now it’s time to give you a couple of examples of SMART goals for nursing.

Pin me on Pinterest!

Examples of SMART goals for nursing

Examples of SMART Goals for Nursing

In this fast-paced and busy day-to-day life, the job of a nurse can get stressful and overwhelming–with all the workloads and patients emerging from left to right.

SMART goals are especially helpful in nursing as it helps in defining a developmental framework and helps you see your progress towards your goal.


  • Safety
  • Patient Care
  • Efficiency
  • Accuracy
  • Professional Development

Next, a more specific answer to each category.

#1 Safety

Today, I will construct a checklist for an updated patient and staff safety and hazard. I will use our ward policy guidelines in constructing this checklist.

I will let every staff nurse check this list based on a once-a-month rotation. I shall complete the checklist by the end of September and have it measured monthly.

#2 Patient Care

SMART goals for nursing: Patient care

I shall hand over the assessment notes, care instructions, and patient details to the next shift nurse as I complete my shift.

I have to finish this before the break time so that the details of the patients would be noted and important instructions would be followed.

#3 Efficiency

I will document the additional tasks following the timetabling meeting weekly so that I can efficiently balance my time and be able to manage all my duties.

This will benefit me as it improves my overall time management.

#4 Accuracy

I will record all my notes about the patient as soon as I leave his or her room, while the information is still fresh and complete in my mind.

This will help in ensuring the accuracy of the information before I proceed to my next endeavor.

#5 Professional Development

By the end of this year, I shall attend two workshops that will help me with my specialty or another field that will help me for the betterment of my profession as a nurse.

Next, I’m going to give you examples of SMART goals for nursing students.

Examples of SMART Goals for Nursing Students

SMART goals for nursing students

Scenario: You’re a 1st-year college student who’s taking up nursing.

Your professor in one of your major subjects has announced that you’ll be having your final examination at the end of the month.

You know that this subject is critical, and you want to pass this subject no matter what.


I want to pass our final examination.


I will finish reading three chapters of our book within this day. I’ll write down every important terminology and its definition in my notebook.

I will also take a 15-minute break in every hour of studying.

For tomorrow, I will make flashcards that will help me easily retain this information and terminologies better.

On the day before our examination, I will make sure to have sufficient rest and enough amount of sleep.

Related articles:

Let’s move on to examples of SMART goals for nurse practitioners.

Examples of SMART Goals for Nurse Practitioners

Scenario: You’re a nurse practitioner, but your monthly salary is not enough since you’ll be having to pay for your loans and other payable.

So, your perceived solution to this problem is to strive and get promoted in the acute care facility which gives a higher pay than your current position.


I want to be promoted to a higher position and make more money.


I will work harder so that my chances of getting promoted in the acute care facility would be higher.

This new job pays me an amount of $30 per hour, including a night differential.

I will aspire to be a better nurse practitioner day by day, so that by August 30th, my manager would see my potential, and get me promoted.

Examples of SMART Goals for Nurse Practitioner Students

Scenario: You’re a nurse practitioner student who’s failing in his/her exams and got the lowest grade in your class.

You know to yourself that something is wrong with your study methods because even if you study hard, you don’t see the fruit of your labor.


I want to learn the other nurse practitioner students’ study methods.


I will improve my study methods by asking my fellow nurse practitioner students how they prepare for tasks and exams.

Today, I will talk to one of my fellow nurse practitioner students, and ask them if we could have a group study together as we prepare for the upcoming examination.

Examples of SMART Goals for Nurse Managers

Examples of SMART goals for nurse managers

Scenario: You’re the department manager and you’re assigned to handle the nurses in the hospital.

You notice that the work environment is getting unhealthy, and the nurses in your department are uncomfortable with each other and with you.


I want to improve my relationship with the nurses that I handle.


I will make sure to promote a healthy working environment by having a meeting once or twice a month to discuss prevailing and relevant issues in our department and hear some constructive feedback from the nurses that I handle.

I will make sure to treat them all equally and with the utmost respect regardless of their age or gender.

But I will also set professional boundaries among the nurses that I handle, and I will make sure that I lay these limits very clearly so that no one will violate them.

Examples of SMART Goals for Nursing Care Plans

Scenario: You’ve learned from a workshop that by showing compassion and empathy to your patient, they will adhere better to the medications which would lead to quicker recovery.

See also: Compassion in Nursing


I want to show more empathy to the patients that I’m handling.


I will make sure to spend an extra 5-10 minutes with each of my new patients.

I will ask them questions about their interests and hobbies so that I can distract them from their health condition.

Also, I will make sure to put myself into their position by thinking about what they must be feeling about the situation.

My way of communicating with them should be as if I’m just having a conversation with a friend, but of course with respect and boundaries.

See also: Nursing Care Plan – Full Guide & Free Templates

More Tips for Creating SMART Goals

Pursuing an “I will” statement is more effective than an “I want” statement.

As you create your own SMART goals, remember to ask yourself the following questions:

  • How is my goal specific? Where is the focus?
  • How is my goal measurable? How will I be able to track my progress?
  • How is my goal achievable? Are my resources enough to achieve this goal?
  • How is my goal relevant? How will this help in my career as a nurse?
  • Is my goal time-bound? Is my goal set in a realistic time frame?

TIP #1

Aside from the five elements comprising SMART goals, it is important to have a model and visualization of your goals as if you have already achieved your goal.

Not only will this motivate you, but this will also give you the feeling of success that comes from achieving that specific goal of yours.

TIP #2

Release any doubts that you have. Those doubts whispering that you’re not enough, or those negative thoughts that kept you awake all night.

Let those negative self-talk go.

The more you say something to yourself, the more likely these things will happen in reality. So, it is always best to talk nicely to yourself.

TIP #3

While releasing your doubts and visualization of your goals are both effective, all these things will only matter once you take consistent action towards your desired goal to progress each day.

Things may get overwhelming and you may not know where to start, so it is advisable to do one task at a time.

It may seem hard at first, that’s just how things are.

But as you keep going, you will get closer and closer to your goal.

The Art of Setting SMART Goals

If these tips were not enough for you, I highly recommend you to check out more about SMART nursing goals from Anisa Marku's book.

The Art of Setting SMART Goals

  • There is always room for improvement and growth as an individual no matter your background or challenges you are facing.
  • In this book, you'll find what SMART goals are, why they are beneficial to your long-term success and guide on how to set them up.

Last update on 2023-03-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

We’re an affiliate
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you if you use our links, we really appreciate it! 🙂

Conclusion: SMART Goals for Nursing

By setting SMART goals for nursing students, nurse practitioners, nurse practitioner students, nurse managers, and nursing care plans, you are setting a clear focus for your ideas and efforts that will allow you to reach your goals in a much shorter period.

See also:

But you should also take note of the possible drawbacks to SMART goals that may hinder you from achieving your goals.

At this point, you should have a clear understanding of how to set SMART goals for nursing.

If you would like to learn some more check out these articles of ours:

I’d be happy if you could give this article a star rating. It only takes a couple of seconds.

Thank you in advance! 🙂

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 4.9 / 5. Vote count: 461

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

About Ida Koivisto, BSN, RN, PHN

Ida is both a registered nurse and public health nurse. Her passion is to provide as much valuable information about nursing to the world as possible. In her spare time from work and blogging, Ida loves to work out at the gym and spend time with relatives.