Physician Assistant

How To Write A Personal Message To Your Evaluator [Example]

By March 12, 2020No Comments
Writing a thank you letter graphic

You may have referred to these as letters of recommendation, or a letter of reference, but in reality, they are evaluation letters from your professors, mentors, and other esteemed professionals who can honestly address your talents and skills.

A letter of recommendation is an important part of the PA school application process, as it gives the admission committee a comprehensive overview of who you are.

Together with your interview and application, your recommendation letter helps present a well-rounded idea of who you are and how you’ll perform in PA school.

Letters of recommendation are usually digitally collected by the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA).

This service allows you to send an evaluation request to your reviewer and your reviewer can submit the letter through CASPA as well.

Letters are stored in CASPA and submitted to your PA school when you’re ready to finalize your application. PA schools are looking for recent letters and definitely not more than two years old.

Asking for letters may be daunting, but the more you know, the easier it is to complete the application process.

In the next paragraphs, we’ll cover who to ask for a letter of recommendation, what to write in a personal message asking for a meeting with your potential recommender, what to say to your recommender in person, and how to write a thank you letter.

Let’s start with who to ask for letters of evaluation.

Who to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation to PA School

Pay close attention to the specific criteria for the types of letters your PA school requires. You may be asked for letters from science and non-science professors, professionals who have seen you provide hands-on care, or from extracurricular observers.

Consider the following as you brainstorm the people you could ask for an evaluation letter:

  • Academic advisers
  • Employers
  • Professors who would remember you
  • Coaches from athletic programs you participated in
  • Coordinators from any volunteer experience
  • Deans of the school who know you personally

Admission committees frown on recommendations from family or friends. As tempting as it might be to get your famous godfather, grandmother, or best friend to write a letter of recommendation, it’s not good form.

Diploma and trophy

It may be seen unfavorably and will likely be discounted, which would leave you one letter short of a full stack.

Your Recommender Should Be Familiar with Your Work

PA schools may ask you to submit from 3 to 6 letters of recommendation. Avoid seeking a well-known professor or physician unless they are familiar with your work.

While the name of a prominent researcher or speaker looks good up front, it won’t look good if they’re unable to speak to your capabilities, skills, and interests.

PA schools are interested in letters that say more about you than the people who sign them. In other words, if the dean of the college doesn’t know you and can’t address your accomplishments, don’t ask for a letter.

How to Contact Your Recommender

It’s always best to contact your recommender by phone or email, but ask for a meeting in person. This respects the person you’re asking a favor from and gives you the opportunity to gauge their willingness to write a strong, positive letter.

A so-so, weak, or even semi-positive letter will likely overshadow other strong letters, so it’s important to be thoughtful about who you ask to complete an evaluation letter.

What to Include in A Personal Message to Your Evaluator

Let’s break down the email request asking for a meeting with your recommender, to make the process a little easier to write your own.

How to Begin Your Personal Message to an Evaluator

Unless you have an ongoing, close relationship with your intended recommender, it’s good to begin by reintroducing yourself. Most mentors, professors, and those in the health professions deal with many people each day, so it’s not unreasonable they may not immediately remember you.

Some people have an easier time remembering faces rather than names, so help the process by reminding them of specific instances where you interacted. For example:

“My name is John Smith. I was a student in your Spring semester 201 Cell Biology class. I really appreciated the time you took to discuss my questions about mitochondria during your office hours.”

Ask for a Meeting with Your Evaluator

It’s important to be tactful in your personal message to your evaluator. Most professors and physicians are busy people and frequently get requests for letters of recommendation. But don’t let this discourage you; most are also thrilled to help their students move forward in their careers.

In your email request, ask to meet to discuss a recommendation letter, but give them an easy way to decline the meeting without feeling as if they completely let you down.

They know why you want to meet, and they may turn you down if they don’t feel they can legitimately write a strong, positive letter of evaluation for your PA school.

Keep Your Email Request Short and to the Point

Keep your emailed personal message short and to the point. Be specific about why you want to meet and recognize that you’re asking for a favor by interrupting their busy schedule.

Framed diploma and coffee

It’s advisable to meet at least six to eight weeks before the due date to give them adequate time to complete it.

Example of an Email Request for an Evaluation Letter

When writing to a potential recommender with whom you have an ongoing relationship, it’s acceptable to be forthright in your request. However, for people who may not remember you without meeting, you may consider asking for a meeting another way.

Here are two examples of evaluation request emails to help you get started:

Example Request to Someone You Know Well:

Dear NAME,

I hope this finds you well. I’m planning on applying to PA school. I’ve always valued your guidance and was hoping you’d be willing to offer your perspective on the process and consider writing a letter of recommendation.

If this is possible, please let me know some days and times that work well for us to meet, and I’ll make sure to accommodate.

Thank you for your consideration!


Example Request to Someone You Don’t Know Well:

Dear NAME,

My name is John Smith. I was a student in your Spring semester 201 Cell Biology class. I really appreciated the time you took to discuss my questions about mitochondria during your office hours. I enjoyed your class and felt it helped solidify my decision to continue my education.

I’m planning to apply to PA school and was hoping you’d be willing to offer your perspective on the process.

If this is possible, please let me know some days and times that work well for us to meet, and I’ll make sure to accommodate.

Thank you for your consideration!


Having the Conversation With Your Recommender

At the meeting, you want to be straightforward in your request and gauge their response. For instance, “Dr. Thomas do you feel comfortable writing me a positive letter of recommendation for PA school?” Then listen with your eyes and ears to how they respond.

Not everyone will know you well enough to write about your strengths or will feel comfortable writing a favorable letter. If they are uncomfortable writing a strong positive letter, thank them for their time and honesty, and move on. If they’re hesitant but willing, consider if you want their letter in your stack.

Be sure to bring documents that give your recommender the information they need to write a strong and specific evaluation letter. This helps the admission committee see you in a positive light. There are also several points you’ll want to cover during your meeting.

What to Bring to Your Meeting

  • Bring your resume and a well-thought-out bio with specific reasons why you want to attend PA school. Be sure your resume includes any scholarships, awards, and honors earned.
  • Bring the letter guidelines from the school and a sample reference letter.
  • Bring a copy of your transcript and your Physician Assistant College Admission Test (PA-CAT) results.
  • Ensure your contact information is included on your resume or other materials, that way, your letter writer can contact you if they have any questions.

Items to Cover During and After Your Meeting

  • Let your letter writer know you’ll send a request for the letters of reference through CASPA.
  • Ask for the letter to be submitted on their letterhead.
  • Let your recommender know you waive your right to see the letter and they should indicate this in the letter and on CASPA. Admission committees value confidential evaluations.
  • Establish a firm deadline for when the letter is required to meet the admission deadline.
  • Ask your recommender if they need any additional information and be sure to provide it.
  • As the date approaches, follow up with your letter writer to remind them of the deadline and ensure that they don’t need any further information.

Follow Up with a Handwritten Thank You [Example]

It’s important you follow up with your recommender to thank them for the time and energy they spent writing your evaluation letter. Although you may find email easier, a handwritten note is preferable, more memorable, and sets you apart from others.

Thank you letter

Be sure to let your evaluator know the results of your application and stay in touch occasionally to let them know how you’re doing in PA school. This shows your appreciation and begins building a strong professional network early in your career.

Handwritten Thank You Note Example

Thank you notes are sometimes difficult to craft. The note should be handwritten and meaningful to the recipient. Here’s an example you can easily personalize:

Dear NAME,

I want you to know how much I appreciate the time and effort you took to write my letter of recommendation to PA school. Your support and interest in my future made the process so much easier. I’ll keep you updated on my progress.

Thank you again for your assistance!



Crafting a personal message for a letter of evaluation may feel overwhelming, but it is a task that will help build your confidence and skill as you move into your new career.

As you look for a job as a PA in the coming years, remembering the successes you experience now will help build your future.