Skip to main content

Letters of Recommendation

In your application process, letters of recommendation are a critical part of your application. Generally, schools prefer students to have two to five letters of recommendation, however, specific requirements can vary from school to school.

Who Should I Ask?
Most schools require letters from letter writers who are familiar with your academic, work and volunteer experience. It is especially helpful to have someone write you a LOR who have seen you work with patients and someone who can speak to your interests and knowledge of the healthcare field. Typically, PA programs are requesting you to provide a letter from:

  • A medical provider, preferably from the field you plan on going into. This letter, if possible, should be from someone who has seen you interact and work with patients and knows you personally. This can be through volunteer work or a clinical position.
  • An academic instructor, preferably from a science faculty member. “Science faculty” letters are written by instructors that you have had in a lecture course in the BCPM disciplines (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Math).
  • Other LOR’s may be written by research mentors, non-science faculty, mentors, someone with a supervisory role (employer, community service, patient exposure, coach, etc.). They also can be from another medical provider.

It is very important to request LORs from those who know you well. Don’t get caught up in the name and/or title of the letter writer. The letter writer should be able to speak to such things as your work ethic, integrity, responsibility, personality/people skills, empathy/compassion, maturity, motivation for medicine, etc. They need to be your strongest advocates in supporting your application to professional school.

Whom Not to Ask?
Don’t ask for LOR’s from:

  • Relatives
  • Friends
  • Clergy
  • Politicians
  • Teaching assistants

When you request LORs to be submitted to the various application services, you will be asked to either waive or not waive access to your LORs. The choice is up to you. However, professional schools much prefer that you waive access to the letters, as this helps ensure the confidentiality of the LOR, so that is our recommendation as well.

Final Tips

  • Once you have individuals willing to write you a LOR, it is helpful to ask the letter writer what you can provide to aid them with your letter of recommendation. We generally recommend that you provide them with a list of reasons why you think they would be qualified to write a letter of recommendation about yourself. These reasons should be well thought out and tied to specific experiences that happened in the classroom, at the clinic, or volunteer environment that you feel the letter writer could talk about. Reminding the letter writer about interactions you have had with the letter writer and the result of these interactions is always helpful. Additionally, some letter writers may request your current resume, transcript, and a draft of your personal statement.
  • Always make sure you review the letters required for the schools you are applying to. Some schools will specify exactly how many letters you need and if they need to be from specific individuals.
  • You can check the status and see if your letter writers have submitted their letters. If your letter writers have not submitted your letter at the deadline you set, you are encouraged to send a polite reminder e-mail.