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Letter of Recommendation Dilemma

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Hi guys,

  I feel that I'm in a pickle and need some advice soon before I turn in my application for this cycle.  I'm currently trying to decide who should write my third recommendation letter and I keep going back and forth about my options.


  Some background: I did research in undergrad (3.94 Biology and Psychology GPA) and also have my Master's in Education and was a high school health science teacher for 2 years in a low-income urban area.  Recently I left that job and am working full time as a patient care technician w/ my CNA license at a hospital (1,300 hours accrued as of today).  I have also traveled to Costa Rica for really fun medical mission trip this past summer.  As far as job shadowing, I have about 35-40 hours mostly w/ a cardiothoracic surgery PA. My GRE Q: 153  GRE V: 156  Writing: 5.0


  My question is who should I get my 3rd LOR from?  I currently have one from my nursing supervisor at my current PCT job, I also have one from my PI in undergrad, and I'm tring to decide if I use my science department teacher leader/menor as my third OR the PA I've been shadowing?


  This may sound like a silly question- the PA was great and let me watch 3 different open heart surgeries, watch rounding, observe pre-op consults and bedside procedures (draining a pleural effusion), and taught me some things about EKG's and we also talked a lot about school and what to look for, how to focus on being a good practicioner vs. a high GPA seeker.  However, I have only shadowed him like 3 or 4 times and I feel that his letter might lack depth into my character simply because he doesn't really know me as well as my mentor from teaching.


  My teacher mentor was in a supervisory role and saw me organize some great things while I taught- I hosted 3 blood drives, help put together a free health fair/screening for parents of our community, participated in science nights at the elementary schools where my senior students and I would teach families about how to read nutritional labels and take blood pressures, etc.  He offered before I left to write me a letter if I ever needed and said he wished I didn't have to leave.  He also has a health background- started off as an X ray tech, has his EMT-b and went to med school for 2 years before deciding he didn't want the lifestyle and became a overly qualified AP biology and biotechnology teacher. 


  So when schools look at letters, are the looking at the quality or the title of the person more?  I'm assuming most people try to get a letter from a PA, but I just don't want to be fool and ask someone else and blow my chances for the wrong reasons.


Thanks for any advice!

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My position is that you get LORs from people who know you in enough depth as to be able to breathe some life into your application. Someone who only knew you for a few hours would not seem to be the best of choices. You have someone with knowledge of your healthcare experience. I would go for the people who knew you at work and can speak to your work ethic.

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The schools I applied to required that one of the letters had to be from a PA,  so check with the schools you are applying to.  If they require one from a PA then  you must get one from a PA.   


It is true that someone that only knew you for a few hours cannot know you well enough to write a strong letter, but there is a way to solve this.  


When I asked my Bio professor for a letter of recommendation he did not know me on a personal basis.  Sure I had him for 2 semesters, but I only went to his office hours a couple of times, and I was one of the 150 students in his class.  So he did not know me well enough to write a strong letter. He knew I had gotten an A on both of the classes I took with him, but that is all he knew about me.  

In order for him to see they whole picture and be able to write a strong letter for me, he had me write a personal essay to him telling him my story, my path , my achievements and my goals.  He also had me give him a copy of my transcript so he could see my academic history.  

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