Landing the perfect nursing position is an incredible accomplishment in a nurse's career. Many nurses have a specific "dream job" that they hope to achieve and do whatever they can to stand out from the crowd to earn an interview and hopefully, the job.

One way nurses can stand out is to have an exemplary letter (or letters) of recommendation. However, the letter should include specific items to ensure that the nurse's attributes are highlighted and lead employers to select them for the position.


The person writing the letter of recommendation should initially introduce themselves and describe the relationship with the nurse. The person can be anyone professionally related to the nurse; a coworker, supervisor, even a patient. However, the best way to stand out from the crowd is to have a provider (physician or nurse practitioner) or direct supervisor write the letter. In nursing, a supervisor or provider is the best one to attest to the abilities and professionalism of the nurse.

Be Specific About Qualifications

The writer should be very specific about why the nurse is best qualified for the job. The nurse should provide the writer with information on the position he/she is applying for so that the letter can be written specifically towards the goals of that position. For example, if the job is for a position in pediatrics, the writer should provide examples of how the nurse gave age-appropriate care to patients or list any experience with pediatric patients that he or she excelled in. If the position is for case management, the writer should provide specific examples of case management experience or ways in which the nurse managed a patient throughout a hospital stay or multiple outpatient visits.

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Highlight Non-Clinical Skills

Many employers seek nurses who have strong traits such as leadership or technology skills, education or teaching skills, problem-solving skills, etc. The writer should highlight these traits in detail. For example, describing how the nurse functioned as a leader during a code or as a relief charge nurse, or how he or she dealt with a difficult patient or clinical experience.

Employers also like to see how nurses are involved in projects - specifically, performance improvement projects. The ability of a nurse to identify a concern and help develop a test of change is a quality that employers like to see, as it demonstrates that the nurse cares about improving the unit or organization. For example, a supervisor can indicate that the nurse headed a project on reducing waste in the department by lowering par levels on supplies.

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Keep it Succinct

While it may seem like the above tips will lead to a lengthy letter of recommendation, the writer should try to keep it concise. Examples should be kept to only one or two. The writer should be direct and use powerful words to convey the opinion. For example, a statement that the nurse "consistently demonstrates strong leadership and problem-solving skills in her current role" is powerful, descriptive, and concise.

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