Recommendation Letters: The Who, The How, and The Unexpected Presented by: Kate Farthing, PharmD, BCPS Mary Hess, PharmD, FASHP, FCCM, FCCP Jason Schafer, PharmD, BCPS, AAHIVE
At the end of this presentation, the participant should be able to:
Outline how to optimally select individuals to prepare a letter of recommendation on your behalf Describe key elements to be included when asking for a letter of recommendation Describe how letters of recommendation may be evaluated and used by a manager or residency program director
Letters of Recommendation Basics
Typically 2 – 3 are required
Work is in developing the first one Request only for completed applications
Letter of Recommendation templates
Waiver may be included
Purpose of a Reference
Who Qualifies as a Reference?
Individuals to Consider Work Supervisor Faculty advisor Preceptor Mentor Student Organization Advisor Individuals Not to be Considered Family Friends Student colleagues Clergy
Goal: Select the three that will provide you the best opportunity to achieve the desired position
Factors to Consider Before Selecting
How well does this person know me? Can they provide positive examples relevant to the position being applied for? Can they write a positive recommendation? Do they know the environment of my application? Do they have experience writing letters of recommendation? Can they be descriptive? Can they follow directions? Will they meet the deadline?
Title of the person writing the reference
How important is the title of the person who writes my letter? • Specific requirement • Should I ask the Dean? ASHP Board of Director or President?
How do they know you & how well?
Paragraph 1 of every reference letter includes:
•1 month vs years • Role (advisor, preceptor, instructor) • Employer (supervisor, pharmacist) • Mentor (research, organizations)
Do they know your strengths? Areas of development?
A valuable element in all letters include comments on strengths / development:
• Direct observation, evaluation • Personal characteristics • Knows your growth / development • Knows what is still a work in progress
Is there a specific example relevant to the position?
• Give specific examples of skills critical thinking problem solving communication commitment to excellence
Do they write or speak descriptively?
Select technical terms when speaking • Uses one: • Knows current profession standards 1. The student provided clinical • During evaluations provided: service while on an internal medicine team. constructive direction adjectives for good and weak 2. The student – know where to go patient directive was responsible for • Expectation is appropriate for experience specific pharmacotherapy as a part of the received medicine team. internal
• What is their background? How well networked is the reference? Alma mater Postgraduate training Work history Active in the profession
• What is their background? Do they practice in an area you aspire to? Will you potentially be applying to places where they trained? Do they serve on committees with individuals you might apply to? What are their recommendations for training related to this specialty?
Additional Consideration: Is the same person writing for classmates applying to the same program? Jane excelled in the classroom finishing in the top 5% of the class and has brought that knowledge into the practice setting. Bob was engaged on rotations, always willing to go the extra mile and in my opinion has maximized his potential. Beth has been a student leader since day 1 which may have con – tributed to her lower GPA; however, she is able to apply all of her...