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 three letters of recommendation, however, specific requirements can vary from school to school. You can use the program directory on PAEA’s website to view individual school’s Letter of Recommendation requirements.
Toggle ItemWho 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 a PA). If you cannot get a letter from a PA, you could ask a MD, DO, NP, or RN. 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 PA school.
Toggle ItemWhom Not to Ask!
Don’t ask for LOR’s from:
- 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, Physician Assistant 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.
Toggle ItemFinal Tips
- Once you have individuals willing to write you a LOR, it is helpful to provide your letter writers with information you feel may be useful to them in preparation to write your LOR. Providing them with your current resume, transcript, and personal statement can help them highlight characteristics and gain perspective on the kind of applicant you are. It can also be helpful to meet with your letter writer in an office appointment to review your qualifications and discuss why you want to be a PA.
- Make sure you explain how to submit your letter of recommendation to your letter writer. Letter writers will receive an email from CASPA with information about how to upload their letter after you put in their contact information on your application. CASPA only accepts letters electronically.
- 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 may enter contact information for 3-5 letter writers on the CASPA application.
- 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.