What should letters of reference include?

In order to ensure residency programs receive the information they need to evaluate applicants, we recommend letters of reference include:


  • The date the letter was written
  • The time and duration of the referee’s contact with the applicant
  • A confidentiality statement indicating that the applicant has not seen and will not receive a copy of the reference.

Assessment of the applicant’s:

  • Cognitive skills and knowledge
  • Problem solving and patient management skills
  • Behaviour and attitudinal skills
  • Communication skills and working relationships
  • Motivation and punctuality
  • Sense of responsibility
  • Procedural skills specific to the discipline
  • Special qualities and unique contributions

    If referees are unable to comment on a specific component of an applicant’s performance in any of the above categories, they should indicate that they have not observed or do not have knowledge of that specific component in their letter.


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