Letters of Recommendation for CRNA Applications

  1. Hello,

    I am starting to send my applications in to 4 different schools. I am working on the Recommendation letters and have a question...

    Some of the schools specify who they would like letters from. Other schools do not. I have nailed down who will write my recommendations and why (some I chose because it was required by the school....others I chose because they know me well and would have something complimentary to say).
    In all, I have recommendations from an ICU co-worker, a doctor (surgeon that I've worked with for 7 years), a DNP from the BSN program I attended(she's the Chair of the Nursing and Science Dept), and my ICU manager. I debated on getting a recommendation from a CRNA or Anesthesiologist...but they don't know me quite as well as the surgeon I've worked for and I was reluctant to "take a chance" on someone who didn't know my work as well.

    At any rate, here's the question...
    Each school has their own recommendation form. I naively thought that my references would write a real "letter" to attach to that form....you know, one that tells the admissions committe how wonderful you are!!!??
    I have been disappointed that they haven't done so....and are simply filling out the school form by hand....just a few sentences that only answer the questions.
    I wouldn't know all of this had these references not provided me with a copy....and each person said really wonderful things...
    (so, yes, I know there's nothing really to complain about)...

    but I would like to ask you fellow CRNA-wannabees....

    are you specifying to your references that you'd like a "letter"...
    or are you just asking that they fill out the forms and send them in???

    I'm thinking the content of the letters is more important...
    and it won't really matter in the end....

    I'm just hoping to put my best foot forward...and I'm a little worried.

    Can you all please share your experience??

    Thank you
  2. 16 Comments

  3. by   jls189
    I'm starting to apply also. And while a lot of schools say to have a past instructor or dean, do you they really know how good a nurse you are? NO! I brought this up to Case Western, and they said not to use instrutors or deans, b/c they only know how you were as a student nurse. Plus, I graduated in 1996. I doubt my instructors would even remember me. Case said not to use a physician, b/c they don't believe that they know your clinical sklls well enough, and they said it looks like your "brown-nosing". I am using two nurses that I have worked w/ for a very long time. They both have there MSN. One is working towards her NP and is CCRN certified and the other is my co-worker and part-time clinical instrutor for Cleveland Clinic. The third person I will use is my nurse manager. Hope this helps.
  4. by   indecisiveRN
    If your references want to attach a letter to the form that is probably okay, but if the school wants the form filled out I wouldn't skip it in place of a letter (no matter how great it may be). It would be a shame to not even be considered because you didn't follow the application instructions. Just my two cents.
  5. by   RRTNeuroRN
    I gave my people the form and requested that a letter be attached with it. I had a surgeon, one of my teachers, a CRNA, and my dept manager write letters for me. Most schools I applied to wanted a CRNA to write a letter even though they don't know you, because they expect you to have shadowed this person so they should know something about you.
  6. by   zozzy777
    When I applied, I used a previous nurse manager, a coworker and a nurse educator. I believe they just filled out the form. I applied to Case Western and got in, so I guess the forms were good enough. In my opinion, you should stay away from Dr's recommendations. You are a nurse going into a nursing profession and it is more important to know what other nurses think of you, not the dr's. A lot of schools would rather know this than what the dr's think of you. Hope this helps!
  7. by   jlaineCCRN
    I start CRNA school in Aug 08. I did not get to read my letters but I am sure they said positive things just like yours. My personal opinion is that a positive letter will not make or break u. It's the person doing the interview that has your lively hood in their hands. Concentrate on pleasing the interviewer. Good luck.
  8. by   LackeyRN
    I work part time as a study coordinator in clinical research in addition to ICU. I was planning on asking the doctor I work with in research (my primary investigator) for a letter of reccomendation. Most schools seem to value any research experience. There is no nurse in this situation to use in place of my PI. I am reading that it is looked down upon to use an MD as a reference. Might this situation be an exception, or should I not use my PI?
  9. by   jls189
    I would suggest calling the schools you're planning on applying to, and see what they have to say. I just mentioned Case in my previous post b/c that is what they told me. I have seen that some schools ask specifically for a doctor. I completely understand why you would use the doctor you work w/ since you work so closely with him/her.
  10. by   ljmb
    Thanks for the replies.

    I guess there's no easy answer. I'm applying to 3 different schools and each has it's own requirements for the references.

    After everyone's feedback and some careful consideration, I've decided to give the schools what they ask for....
    some ask for nurse only recommendations,
    one asks for a doctor,
    all ask for a faculty member,
    one asks for a nurse peer.

    I do have a CRNA who'd write a recommendation for me...but I'm not sure I"ll use that option.
    The doctor, peer, boss and faculty member all know me better...
    and can honestly attest to my strenghts and suitability for this career option.

    On a side note....
    I talked to my brother about this topic and he gave me some good advice....
    Ask for references from people who really know you and who really have something good to say. Don't expect an outstanding recommendation from someone just because they have a "title" or you think they might make you look good.
    My brother graduated with a Masters in Business/Finance from Duke. When he had applied there, he got 3 recommendations from various people.
    He never saw the recs.
    AFter he graduated, he got to know a member of the admissions committee who questioned him about his referrals...
    and he said it was obvious that person had never written a recommendation is his life!!
    Scary who we trust sometimes! Although the guy didn't intend to give a bad reference, it was so poorly written, it was a "joke".

    So, I've decided to go with the people who know me well...and who are professional and can write well....
    and who have an interest in seeing me succeed...
    and I won't ask for a reference simply because it might "look good".

  11. by   jlaineCCRN

    Sounds good, just don't stop giving it your all. Try hard and PRAY harder.
  12. by   Happy Halothane
    Make sure you get a letter from a surgeon, or preferably a CNRA or anesthesiologist...because only these types of professionals would know what it takes to be successful in the operating room.

    If you're applying for programs, you should have shadowed several times by now...because you need to really know if this is something you really really want.

    You will give up your life for 2.5 years. Understand that now, before you're $100,000 in student loan debt, and either failed out of a program or decided you don't like what you do. Harsh reality, but very true.

    Another tip to you guys....when I gave the recommendation forms out, I included a self-addressed postcard. When I received the postcard, I had a pretty good idea that the person writing the letter came through (expect 75% or so).

    Good luck
  13. by   trav2CRNA
    Have you applied to Case yet?
    I just interviewed there this week and looking for someone else whos interviewed...
  14. by   Paris2010
    I recently applied to UAB. UAB requires all of it's applicants to submit online recomendations. I had a Anesthesiologist (that I have worked with in the past), a CRNA (that I shadowed, and also worked before he went to CRNA school), an RN ( that I have worked with in the Unit that recently was accepted and has started CRNA school), and my current ICU nurse manager. They only wanted 3 letters of rec. but I got 4.
    I pray they all gave me Outstanding recommendations! I guess I will find out in a couple of weeks when UAB sends out their Interview letters.