Applying to a nurse practitioner program this year? As part of your application packet, you will need to submit a few letters of recommendation. Who do you plan to ask? And, more importantly, how will you ask? The method by which you request a letter of recommendation can have a significant impact on the quality and outcome of the letter itself. Not to mention, an appropriate ask is essential for receiving a positive reply. Aspiring nurse practitioner students should keep the following rules in mind when requesting a letter or recommendation.
1. Ask the right professor, not the one that gave you the highest grade
Nurse practitioner schools typically require that students submit at least one recommendation from a college or graduate school professor. Think carefully about who you will ask. Your most effective approach? Reach out to the professor with whom you have the most extensive interaction. You may have received a ‘B’ in biochem but frequented office hours to show your commitment to the course. While your ‘A’ performance in Microbiology is objectively better, your prof may not remember you among the other 100 students in your section if you didn’t participate. Request letters of recommendation from professors with whom you were most engaged. This gives your professor ammo for writing a letter that packs a punch.
2. Position your request to be sure you’ll receive a positive recommendation
Most professors and professionals won’t refuse to write a letter of recommendation. But, depending on who and how you ask, it’s quite possible he or she will copy and paste a generic online form. This doesn’t necessarily hurt your chances of admission but it doesn’t help.
Rather than simply requesting a letter of recommendation, ask “Would you be comfortable writing me a strong letter of recommendation?”. This gives your contact an out if he or she won’t be able to offer a positive or thoughtful contribution to your nurse practitioner application package.
3. Get a timeline in place early in the application process
People are busy and drafting a quality letter takes time. So, request letters of recommendation at least six weeks in advance if at all possible. Let your recommender know you will email them a reminder about your letter two weeks before it is due. A reminder about your letter here and there isn’t obnoxious, but rather appreciated as teachers, healthcare providers, and others you might ask likely have a lot on their plate.
4. Make suggestions about content
Letters of recommendation are best positioned to help your application packet shine if they are tailored to the specific nurse practitioner specialty to which you are applying. While you have spent a significant amount of time researching nurse practitioner programs, your recommender likely has not. Clue the individual writing your letter in as to your education and career goals. This way, they can reference them specifically in the letter. Providing the following information is helpful:
- What goals do you hope to accomplish as a nurse practitioner?
- How has your education and work experience prepared you for graduate school and specifically your nurse practitioner program?
- How have you demonstrated a commitment to or interest in the nurse practitioner profession?
- Which of your character qualities will lend themselves to helping you be successful in a graduate program and as a future NP?
Think about what makes you stand out as a nurse practitioner program candidate. If you want specific information included in your letter of recommendation, speak up!
4. Give specific instructions
Ensure that your letter of recommendation arrives on-time and in the right hands by providing specific, written instructions. If the letter must be mailed, provide a stamped, addressed envelope. If the letter must be submitted electronically, provide a link for doing so. If you are applying to multiple nurse practitioner programs, organize envelopes and necessary recommendation forms in a folder. Alternately, provide a USB flash drive containing all required electronic content in one place. Make it easy for the individual drafting your letter to help you.
Who will you ask for an NP program letter of recommendation?