Preceptor Corner: Residency Letters of Recommendation

Thank you to all of our alumni and friends who also serve as preceptors to our students. In this preceptor role we know that you may be asked to serve as a letter writer for your students as they prepare their residency applications. We hope these tips and tricks will help you as you prepare your letters. 

Start early and plan ahead! 

Completing these reference forms always take longer than we think they will, and it never feels good to rush these kinds of things at the last minute. Ask students to request your references in PhORCAS as soon as MidYear is over. Consider blocking off time on your calendar to write a draft, then a second session to review/finalize what you’ve written and to submit. Aim to have the second session at least a week before the candidate’s first deadline, so there’s some wiggle room if needed.

Tell your reader as much as you can! 

The PhORCAS reference form has a list of 13 characteristics for you to consider when evaluating the candidate. It asks you to comment on at least three of those characteristics, but in reality, your students would benefit from you sharing comments or examples for at least seven of these areas (some programs even require this). It does take a little more time, but it gives the programs a much better picture of who the student is and why they’re a great candidate.

Let your students help! 

While your feedback on the reference forms are, of course, confidential, it’s definitely appropriate (and encouraged) to ask students to share examples of why they believe they excel in a particular area. This not only helps you to remember why you were impressed by the student when they were on rotation with you, but it also helps them to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses — which will also benefit their letter of intent and interview prep. 

Be careful with copy/paste! 

The PhORCAS portal is a finicky creature. If you write your evaluations in a different program (like Word) and then paste your text into the form at the end, make sure to review carefully, because some characters don’t cross over correctly and we donДt want to submit a recommendᴁtion with funnγ formatting!

We are also in the midst of collecting IPPE and APPE availability for the academic year 2022-2023. If you would like to discuss hosting a student rotation for our program, please consider reaching out to our experiential office at We look forward to hearing from you! 

Friday, Dec. 10, 2021