A good letter of recommendation can make your day; a great letter of recommendation can change your life. Whether it is a dating review on Tinder, a restaurant recommendation on Yelp, a movie review on Rotten Tomatoes or an open request for holiday vacation recommendations on Facebook, we look to our friends, colleagues, and specialists in the field for advice on how to make better choices. But the opinions of those we admire and respect, the ones whom we look to for guidance, the ones who will give us the cold hard truth in all instances — that matters!
Just look at the sales figures for the latest summer blockbuster action pic! Choice Overload Whoever can best speak to your abilities are the best references. One has to be a healthcare provider. And they should not be family or family friends. Required to make a decision among 's or 's of similar products with similar features and similar price points where does one begin? For example, when faced with the seemingly simple task of replacing my broken iPhone 7 case I jumped on Amazon. I love my current case and figured I would simply get a similar version.
Well, you can imagine how that went down. Ninety minutes later I was still browsing through the endless array of case options, features, colors, and Amazon recommended accessories. How about a new car charger? The list goes on and on! Needless to say, it has been two weeks and I still don't have a replacement case. Maybe I will just keep my old one! And what do we do when we get really stuck? And it is often here that we make our final purchase decision.
Like trying to find that ideal iPhone 7 case or a perfect pair of sound isolating earbuds , PA schools have a need to fill. They have vacant seats in their PA program and they want to find the best, brightest, financially responsible, capable, compassionate, forward-thinking, well-prepared, resilient, like-minded candidates, to fill their rosters.
The admissions directors place your application in their cart, click to preview, browse through a couple of pages and then if there is any doubt, they scroll down to read reviews. Or, in this case, your letters of reference. What are you looking for in a letter: It is likely that you will not see your letter, your letter writer is submitting a digital letter of reference. On the CASPA application , there is a page where you will submit the name title and email address of the people you will be asking to include letters of recommendation too.
CASPA will send an email to your letter writers indicating that they have been selected to submit a letter of reference on your behalf. Someone who has known you for some time Someone who practices in some field of medicine Someone who has seen how you interact with patients Someone who supports you as an applicant Try to pick someone who has known you for some time 'Know the people from who you receive letters of reference well! One of the questions asked of the letter writer is how long have you known the applicant?
How well could they assess you if they have met you only once or had you in the office for just hours of shadowing? The most desirable is someone who has been witness to your patient care experience. You can use nurses and clinical managers although these references may not be as strong as the former.
Ideally, they want to see a letter from someone who knows what you are getting into and is enthusiastic about you. Practices in some field of medicine If you don't have a lot of healthcare experience this can be a hard one and you may not be able to produce a letter from someone who has seen you working with patients in a clinic.
If this is the case you are going to choose someone who knows you well and can speak to them about a domain that is relevant to the PA profession such as your ability to communicate effectively or your science ability. Who should your letters of recommendation come from?
There is ideal and there is real, what most of us have to work with is something in-between. If you have decided to apply even though you don't have a ton of experience your options may be more limited and that is fine.
You work with what you've got. One Academic Letter from an instructor or professor of a prerequisite science: Someone who taught you one of the "big 5 sciences": This is someone who can attest to your academic ability specific to the field of science and medicine. You definitely need a letter from a medical provider where you have volunteered or worked: Of course, the ideal letter is going to be from a PA but this is not always possible.
I don't know I still got into PA school. A letter from another provider from another discipline or supervisor in a medical setting: If you don't have another provider you can choose a clinical director, charge nurse you worked under, volunteer coordinator or direct supervisor.
I received a letter from the supervisor of the medical records department where I worked. She ended up writing me a wonderful letter. You can see a couple of my letters here. Summary of Ideal situation Summary of the ideal situation: Dependability, honesty, and intellectual curiosity! How good do your letters of reference need to be? You want the best letter you can get, you want a letter from someone who glows and raves about you.
Anybody who reads letters of recommendation assumes that they will be writing for you because they believe in you, and letter writers who don't know you well will speak in "glowing" platitudes. What is a glowing platitude? A platitude is a remark or statement, especially one with a moral content, that has been used too often to be interesting or thoughtful. Here are a couple examples: I don't ever remember him saying an unkind or angry word.
He is the most positive person I have worked with in my Laboratory Medicine career of 25 years. Stephen has a strong worth ethic and has experience working in the healthcare field Glowing recommendation: He works hard, but has a balanced life with leisure activities. I'm impressed with his career development as a student All of these experiences give him a broad base of knowledge for a healthcare career as a physician assistant. I think this person would be a good fit and would be capable of performing the relevant duties.
I am really sad to see this person go, but you are so much the better for it because they need to be in this field and I am enthusiastic about them. Moral of the story: Pick someone who is enthusiastic about you!
You want someone who can write well and will take the time to write well about you! How do you go about getting letters or recommendation? This can be tough, one way is to scout out early who you may want to write your letter and then do your best to impress. Are you taking a human anatomy course and have a wonderful professor who you feel could provide an excellent reference? Then do your best to show up early, attend or lead extra study sessions, create study groups, offer to assist the professor in lab setup or clean up.
You don't want to be a "kiss ass" you want to be helpful, show that you are a hard worker, a leader, a dedicated student and make yourself stand out. Then at the end of the course, if all seems well, you can gently ask for a letter of recommendation. Are you working or volunteering? Well, if you are not you should be.
Then be the wonderful person you naturally are. Show up on time, offer to help out wherever you can, don't worry about pay, work for free, or pay them: I know you are a passionate, caring person who obviously is highly motivated and goal oriented. Don't be afraid to take initiative After 12 months or more of hard work and effort, the letters will be flowing!
You are not looking for good letters, you are looking for amazing letters! The letters should shout from the mountain tops that they would be stupid not to take you. The quality of letters almost always trump where they come from, in other words, don't get so caught up on the ideal letter writers that you choose a less enthusiastic writer in place of someone who adores you but sits outside the "ideal" category. If you are applying a second time ask for new letters or if you know it was a great letter ask the same references to submit the same letter a second time.
Don't ever ask for letters from family! Don't ask for letters based on credentials from people who don't know you well. I have had people ask me for letters after a couple of email exchanges through this website. This is not a quality letter and will not work in your favor. It also makes me extremely suspect as a letter writer. Set up a little interview with your recommender so they can ask questions to better help write the letter. Before meeting with the recommender have these ready: A paper on what you may want specifically mentioned in the letter One professor actually complimented me on how prepared I was compared to other students for requesting the letter.
The more personal a letter the better. This is something you can do starting your freshman year so professors can remember you personally and write a great recommendation for you. What is the difference between an evaluation, letter of reference, and a letter of recommendation?
They are all the same thing. How many evaluations must you enter? CASPA will verify your application as long as two of your evaluations are completed.