Ask – Do Not Assume Your References
If you want to be successful and keep your sanity (as well as the people you’re asking to be your references/recommendation letter writers) please do yourself a favor and put the bug in their ear EARLY.
For instance, if you’re applying for the September 5th application deadline, you should have already asked your people if they’d be a reference or write a letter of recommendation for you. If you haven’t – you need to ask them ASAP. With all that goes into it, it’s polite to give them at least a 2-3 month notice.
Avenues for Recommendations
Each hospital may have different instructions regarding recommendations.
Some may require digital copies; others may require direct emails from your reference.
Some may ask for signed and sealed copies on said establishment’s letterhead.
Most places now require the recommendation form that can be found within the Common Internship Application found on the ACLP website.
It’s also possible that some hospitals will require multiple avenues for how you should submit recommendations (for instance, the recommendation form on the ACLP website + a letter of recommendation).
Crunch the Numbers
Before you have your references go through the process of printing, signing and sealing 27 letters of recommendation for you, make sure you narrow down the requirements of each site.
For instance – you may only need 12 signed, sealed letters of recommendations but 4 specific hospital recommendation forms + an email sent directly from your reference’s email to a specific site.
Then write your reference ONE email with exactly what you need from them. It’s incredibly frustrating receiving one email from a student asking to fill out a form one day and then two days later receive another email stating, “Oh! Forgot to send you this one!”
Get organized, get everything that you need from them together in ONE email. They’ll be much more willing to help you if they feel like you’re respecting their time and effort.
Provide a Deadline for the Out-of-Your-Control Items
In your email to your reference, you’ll want to give them a deadline. Rather than say “I need your letter of recommendation signed and sealed by September 1” – instead, tell them you need it by August 1 at the latest.
That way, if something happens and they’re not able to get it to you on time (God forbid) it’s not actually infringing on the actual deadline of the application, but just the early deadline you gave them.
The sooner you can have the items finished that are out of your control like references, letters of recommendation, and obtaining your transcripts, the better you’ll feel overall. The rest will be on you to finish and you won’t be waiting on anything from anyone else.
Good luck and God bless! The road is long but the destination is worth it!