No letter of rec from work?


10+ Year Member
Jun 30, 2006
  1. Pharmacist
    So my situation is that I worked in a retail setting but I would like to apply for a residency just to keep my options open this coming year. My main obstacle (apart from making a final decision on which programs to apply to) is asking for letters of recommendations. As you can imagine in retail pharmacy my manager changed at least once a year, and the last manager i had who was really supportive of residencies was a manager I had over a year ago..

    Would it be ok to ask for letters of rec from the 3 following? Am-care rotation preceptor, community rotation preceptor, and ID rotation preceptor?

    Thanks for any insight.


    in the bee-loud glade
    15+ Year Member
    Feb 27, 2004
    1. Pharmacist
      How well do these people know you? I think preceptors are fine but you should have more of a relationship with them than 4-5 weeks. That would be the most important thing - how well can these people speak to your abilities, work ethic, innovation, knowledge, etc.


      Super Member
      15+ Year Member
      Apr 4, 2006
      1. Pharmacist
        I did not have my work write me a LOR. I worked retail, so I figured I'd be better off elsewhere.

        I had 2 profs (one I did research with and one I was on rotation with) and 1 rotation precptor that was not affiliated with my pharm school.
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        10+ Year Member
        Jul 11, 2007
        1. Pharmacist
          There are a few programs who list on their websites that LORs from retail pharmacy are not considered strong letters. Being able to speak about your work ethic is important but I think most programs want letters from people who can speak of your work ethic as well as clinical competency.

          From the residency directors and preceptors I have had a chance to talk to about this, they all agree LORs are Very important. Make sure you ask people who know you and can write solid letters.

          Also note, many programs request a one of the letters be from a faculty member.


          Full Member
          10+ Year Member
          May 23, 2007
          1. Pharmacist
            Also note, many programs request a one of the letters be from a faculty member.

            Several programs I applied to had requirements like this. Most of the requirements were for faculty, but a couple required letters from a work supervisor. I only worked retail, but my boss was very supportive of me choosing residency so he was glad to help. I'm not sure if the programs viewed the letters as weak because they weren't from someone viewing my clinical skills, but I do believe that he wrote a strong letter because he knew me well. My other letters were from clinical faculty who had me on rotations, so these backed up my clinical skills.

            If you only work retail, you may have to get a letter from your supervisor there. You just have to make sure that the others are strong to back it up. Hopefully the programs you apply to will not have this requirement.


            Full Member
            Dec 28, 2009
            1. Resident [Any Field]
              I would recommend utilizing a faculty member and 2 rotation preceptors as well. I had a similar situation in which my previous boss had left about 6 months before I started requesting LORs and I hadn't had much interaction with my new boss. Not to mention it was also retail. I think you have to factor in how much they have actually worked with you as someone had previously said. If you work primarily in the evenings after school and the boss has already left for the day - I'm not sure if they can really speak to your abilities.

              When I was choosing my potential recommenders, I tried to focus on which preceptors I had the most interaction with during rotations. Even though my rotations were only 5 weeks, I worked in close proximity to a few preceptors who could observe my abilities and discuss topics with me >2-3 hours a day. Try to pick someone who physically observed your interaction with other individuals (attends rounds with you, observes patient counseling activities and presentations, etc.).

              Good luck!


              Full Member
              Nov 19, 2010
              1. Pharmacist
                The people you are seeking to get a recommendation seem to be good choices. But it all depends on the residency program. I remember when my girlfriend was filling her application, some programs where very picky and requested specifically to have 2 faculty and 1 from work. But other programs that she applied to could care less where she got her recommendation from just as long as she got 2 or 3.

                So I would actually first figuring out which program you are interested in, and then go on their website or request info from them on their application requirement. (Just think of this like a college application, each college has different recommendation letter requirement and different essay questions)
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