Imprint 2021 January | Page 21

Letters of Recommendation Written By Staff Nurses

By Daniel M . Doolan

Are you reading this as a nursing student whose

preceptor may be willing to write a letter of recommendation for you ? If so , diplomatically provide him or her with this article in case it is of interest .
Hospital staff nurses often play a key role as preceptors to nursing students at the end of pre-licensure nursing program . Often these preceptorships involve a staff nurse working one on one with a nursing student over many weeks . Staff nurse preceptors often feel competent at mentoring student nurses , but writing a letter of recommendation for that student may be out of their comfort zone . Fear not ! This article is here to help staff nurses prepare a letter of recommendation for a current or former student that best reflects their perceptions of the student .
Tips for Writing the Letter The appendix includes a partially completed sample letter of recommendation that provides further context and guidance . Note that it helps to start a letter of recommendation by unambiguously stating the enthusiasm with which you are recommending the student . Hiring committees often see many applicants , so being appropriately blunt and upfront is valued . In developing the letter , it is okay to focus on diverse aspects of the student ’ s performance , but you want the reader of the letter to be able to easily identify the degree to which you think the student ( or former student ) would excel in the position .
I recommend a one-page letter of recommendation ; a well written one-page recommendation should be sufficient to provide the hiring committee the information needed . If you are extremely familiar with a student and have a lot to say , it might be okay to exceed one page , but avoid exceeding two single-spaced pages .
The first time you state the student ’ s name , include the full name . Subsequently , you can use the first name . but avoid ever referring to the student using a nickname or abbreviated name since you never want the hiring committee to get inadvertently confused as to which candidate the recommendation is referring to .
“ I do hope this content helps you to provide a letter of recommendation that you feel good about and reflects on the competencies and good performance that you helped to develop .”
For students who regularly use a nickname instead of their legal name , advise them to use their legal name for the purposes of interviewing . Once employed , the new hire can tell employers to call them by an abbreviated name or nickname . If possible , have the letter of recommendation printed or digitally provided on official agency letterhead ( from your employer ). This indicates that you are reflecting on the student ’ s performance based on your professional abilities that made you a trusted member of your hospital staff .
In the first paragraph of the recommendation , make clear to the reader how it is you know the student and approximately how familiar you are with the student ’ s work . Also , include your qualifications ( for example , a staff nurse for more than 10 years ). The reader will give your letter more weight if you have excellent firsthand knowledge of the student ’ s capability in a variety of dynamic situations and if your background demonstrates an aptitude to evaluate the student ’ s performance .
In the second paragraph of the recommendation , consider providing some level of detail as to a specific situation or two in which you observed the student showcasing performance strengths . In other words , highlight something specific you remember about the student ’ s performance that demonstrated to you that the student has what it takes to be a successful RN .
If you do not think the student will be competent and believe that the student should not be hired , it is best to politely decline to provide a letter of recommendation . As a staff nurse who may precept several nursing students , you are not professionally obligated to provide a student a letter of recommendation unless you want to .
In the final paragraph of the recommendation , restate the level of recommendation ( for example , recommend or highly recommend ) and briefly reflect on why you think the agency should hire the new graduate and / or what he / she will bring to their team . I usually have a final paragraph not longer than 3 or 4 sentences that just factually recaps aspects previously discussed in the letter .
Because you probably do not write many letters of recommendation , you may have concerns that your inexperience writing these letters might lead to a scenario in which the new graduate is not hired due to your letter not being written as well as you would have liked . As someone who has served on hiring committees , this is something that people writing letters of recommendation should be concerned about . If you have this concern , you can consider stating overtly in your letter that , based on your employment , you rarely have the opportunity or desire to write letters of recommendation . You could then frame your recommendation in the context of , “… despite not being in a position that