How to write a reference letter for student?

  1. 0
    I've been asked by a couple of former clinical students to write a letter of reference for them. I've never done this before. Anybody have any ideas on what to say? What is important to include?
    Thanks.
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  3. 16 Comments so far...

  4. 2
    I have "form" letters that I have developed and then adapt to the individual student. Here is one for an exceptional student:

    To Whom It May Concern

    I am writing this letter to offer my highest recommendation for ******* concerning ******. <OI was *****’s clinical instructor during the ***** semester 200* (Course ***, unit***). ***** consistently delivered the highest quality patient care. She possessed superlative critical thinking abilities, way beyond the expected level for a first-semester clinical student. She was also very caring, gentle, compassionate, conscientious, and professional at all times. **** was a natural leader on the floor and a positive influence in the clinical group. She was enthusiastic, focused, eager to learn, displayed great initiative, and was an effective team player. Without question, ***** demonstrates outstanding nursing potential and would make an excellent addition to your healthcare team.
    <O</O

    Thank you for your kind consideration of this recommendation.

    Sincerely,
    tkg123 and kcangel like this.
  5. 1
    Vicky, as usually, that is great. BUT: what if they were not a great student

    I have a couple of form letters that I tweak for each student. I have the excellent student, the satisfactory student and the "just barely getting by" student (who is really trying but not doing so great. I have also been asked to write letters for students who have failed, that are looking to get a hospital-related job or an externship while they are waiting to repeat the course. In these cases, I keep it very objective, what they have passed or completed in the program, and their clinical performance (if they were satisfactory in clinical for me, but not theory). I will discuss their character (caring, compassionate, good communicator, team player, etc).

    I also include anything 'special' they have done, projects, extra assignments, externships, class officer, etc
    VickyRN likes this.
  6. 0
    Quote from nurse educate
    Vicky, as usually, that is great. BUT: what if they were not a great student
    Excellent question In most cases, these students know they performed poorly and do not ask me for a reference. If they do, I am honest and state I cannot write a reference for them. If an employer contacts me concerning hiring a graduate who (in my opinion had mediocre performance during clinicals, etc.), all I say is that "XYZ successfully completed course objectives and graduated from our program." I just leave it at that. The employer can read between the lines.
  7. 0
    Quote from nurse educate
    I have a couple of form letters that I tweak for each student. I have the excellent student, the satisfactory student and the "just barely getting by" student (who is really trying but not doing so great. I have also been asked to write letters for students who have failed, that are looking to get a hospital-related job or an externship while they are waiting to repeat the course. In these cases, I keep it very objective, what they have passed or completed in the program, and their clinical performance (if they were satisfactory in clinical for me, but not theory). I will discuss their character (caring, compassionate, good communicator, team player, etc).

    I also include anything 'special' they have done, projects, extra assignments, externships, class officer, etc
    Excellent suggestions.
  8. 0
    I figured they could read between the lines. Fortunatley, I have not been asked to write a letter for someone who was that bad of a student (yet ). But I have been asked to write letters for summer externships, where I felt the student really needed it, so I would, in the nicest way possible, that this student would benefit from the experience.
  9. 10
    I run a summer extern program that requires letters of recommendation from at least one clinical instructor. I have also been involved in hiring many new grads for staff nurse positions. So, I have read a lot of such letters. I've also written some letters.

    As others have said, I can read between the lines. When I see words like "outstanding" and "exceptional," I know that this is a student that is significantly above average. When I don't see those types of words, I don't get the same message.

    The types of things I am interested in knowing about include things like:
    Reliability and dependability

    1. Ability to learn quickly

    2. Ability to learn/handle complex information

    3. Energy level & Stamina -- not "bouncing off the walls," but someone who is going to have the physical and mental stamina to sustain a high level of performance over a full 12-hour shifts 3 days per week, week in and week out. No wimps need apply.

    4. Perseverence, determination, etc. -- See #3

    5. Able to take constructive feedback that is critical of her performance -- A new nurse needs to be able to handle the fact that she will probably struggle in that first year and have a few problems to cope with. That can be very stressful for people used to being "the head of the class" and some get very defensive when you try to give them some guidance.

    6. A pleasant temperament -- gets along well with all types of people and doesn't get upset easily.

    7. High standards -- but realistic

    That's what most of us are looking for when we hire. Yes, specific nursing skills and knowledge are nice plusses -- but if there are a few gaps there, we can usually fix that. We can teach them the specific facts and technical skills they need for the job. We just need a good basic nursing foundatin to build on. But we need the new hire to be a "good fit" on the inside in terms of personality for things to work out.
    lytning, Darisa05, AmyCardsNP, and 7 others like this.
  10. 1
    I also add something about attendance since this is a question many employers ask,
    ProfRN4 likes this.
  11. 0
    I have just passed my pre-entrance exams to LPN school and have been asked to attend a personal interview in 2 weeks. Prior to the interview, I need to have 3 letters of refrence sent to the school along with a 2x2" pic for my file. I have a Pharmacist writing one letter for me, but for the other 2 refrences, who do I ask (friend or professional) and what should be included in recommending me for a nursing program?
  12. 1
    I usually ask the one who wants a reference if there's anything particular he or she wants included, too...
    JBudd likes this.


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