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Types of Recommendation Letter for Nurses

A letter of recommendation can be a strong tool to give prospective employers a feel for the talents and experience a prospective nursing candidate may possess. Any letter of recommendation should indicate how long the writer has known the nursing candidate and in what capacity. Specific examples should illustrate strengths of the applicant in nursing or classroom situations and should paint a favorable portrait of the hopeful candidate; focusing on nursing behaviors that demonstrate specific positive personality qualities as well as employment capabilities.

Previous Employers

Letters of recommendation written by former employers should indicate the areas in which the candidate performed the bulk of his or her functions; specifics about the candidate’s job duties and areas of strength or weakness and whether or not they would recommend the individual in question for future employment. The former employer could also address their former employee’s commitment to the profession and work ethic. Previous supervisors may also choose to address the candidate’s abilities to learn quickly, to process information, to manage time and to handle stress during difficult situations often associated with nursing.

Recommendations From Professors

Recommendation letters may come from former nursing instructors or professors who can provide information such as nursing classes that were taken, grades and GPA, a portrayal of professional goals, any volunteer work, awards and work experience. An effective letter of recommendation from a previous instructor should address both the personal and professional facets of the nursing candidate.

Patient Testimonials

Letters of recommendation written by patients can also provide a compelling character testimonial and depiction of the more intangible and ethical qualities that a nursing employee may possess. While personal reference letters tend to be less formal in nature, they are most helpful for any nurse seeking employment when the patient is able to provide a brief background of their illness or hospital experience, as well as a detailed statement of how and why the candidate excelled in their care.


Roe Gillis is a writer, photographer and career specialist who has published articles covering business, travel, medical concerns, family and news. She has an associate degree in journalism from Pensacola State and a background in human resources.