So you’ve decided you want to become a physician assistant and will be submitting applications for the PA training program soon. Letters of recommendation can be a critical part of the process, so there are a few things to keep in mind to maximize your chances of acceptance. The following checklist should help you avoid critical mistakes.

1. Start tracing your letters early. You should start asking references if they are willing to write you a letter sooner because it takes time to get an agreement from writers, it takes time for your references to actually write their letters and send them, and generally speaking, the sooner your application is sent. full, the better your chances of getting in. This is particularly true if you apply through CASPA.

2. Use references that have broad appeal. Most schools will ask you to apply through the Central Service Application for Physician Assistants (CASPA). CASPA requires that you obtain three letters of reference. Once received, CASPA will distribute the same three letters to each school to which you apply. For this reason, you should choose referrals that appeal to the widest range of schools. If you are concerned about appealing to the specific requirements of a particular school, you can mention them in your essay or on a secondary application, which you can complete later in the application process.

3. Clinical references are usually better than academic references. In most cases, schools prefer to learn about your clinical experiences rather than your academic performance. This means looking for references who have supervised or worked closely with you in a clinical (patient) setting. It makes sense, because this information speaks directly to your potential as a personal assistant. The only exception is if you have a weak academic background (poor grades or your coursework is more than 3 years old). In this case, you should consider getting a letter from the instructor of a class you did well in, preferably a science prerequisite.

4. Look for letters from people who you are sure support you. It may sound obvious, but many people don’t. Find someone you really like and who supports your decision to apply for PA training. If you’re not sure, ask them, “I’m going to apply to physician assistant schools and I’m starting to think about my letters of recommendation. Would you feel able to support me by writing a letter of recommendation if I ask you to?” you?” If your answer is anything less than an enthusiastic “Yes!” then consider finding someone else.

5. Usage the electronic shipping method if possible. E-filing is easier for you, your referral, CASPA, and the schools you hope to attend. Simply provide CASPA with your reference’s name, title, title, and email address, and how you know them. Let your references know in advance when you will be sending your information so they can assess when the letter will need to be written. Once they have completed their letter, they will email it to CASPA. Exception: If you are submitting a letter from an admissions committee. Committee letters count as one letter and must be submitted as hard copies, on institution letterhead.

6. Give up your right to review your letters. CASPA gives you the option to waive your right to review your letters, and you should. Not giving up this right means you may want to see them yourself and means you’re not sure they speak well of you. This is a bit like asking a potential employer not to contact your previous employer – a clear red flag for an application committee.

7. When you’re done, send a thank you card to your letter writers. (and maybe even a little gift—Starbucks gift cards are appropriate.) This is just good manners. It shows your appreciation and keeps it in good condition in case you need to reapply next year.

Once your letters are complete and sent, you can cross this item off your extensive to-do list and breathe a little easier. Good luck!

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