Are you graduating soon? Or just looking for a job? Asking for references doesn’t have to be a daunting task and I hope these next tips will help you in asking.

The first thing to do is to think about which professors know you well enough to write a reference. Would you want a virtual stranger to write something a potential employer would see? Probably not. Have you asked a certain professor for help on a topic or discussed patients you’ve had in clinicals? Has a certain clinical professor spent time showing you various procedures? Notice I didn’t emphasize all professors had to be nursing – I used professors from both my music and nursing degrees.

In today’s world there are many ways to ask for a letter of recommendation: email, phone, letter, in person. My personal opinion is you should ask in person if they would be interested and then give them a handwritten formal request for a letter of recommendation. If it isn’t possible to give the professor a handwritten request an email request of the same nature would be okay.

The following is the letter I used both in email and handwritten format.

Hi Professor _________,

I am writing to ask if you would be willing to write a letter of recommendation for me. I am currently putting together my nursing portfolio and think a letter of recommendation from you would enhance my portfolio.

I learned a lot during your clinicals and appreciate the time you took to challenge me to think critically. It is a skill I will continue to use. Though the amount of time at clinical was short I hope it is sufficient enough for you to be able to write a letter of recommendation. If you could gear the recommendation towards the __________ and a nursing career there I would greatly appreciate it.

Please let me know if you are willing to write a letter of recommendation for me. If so could you please have it to me by ___________. Thank you for your time and consideration in advance.

Kind Regards,

Notice I explained why I would like the letter of recommendation, and things I liked specifically about their clinical. I also gave them direction to what their letter of recommendation should be about and a deadline for the letter. At the end I signed my name and included my phone number and email.

Your letter doesn’t have to be long, but it should include those key things mentioned in the previous paragraph. Feel free to use the template I included.

Good luck with your coming semester and don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations!


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