How to Write a Cover Letter

To elaborate on the general tips in writing an effective Cover Letter (also known as a Letter of Intent) that was previously provided, I will walk you through one of the letters I have written previously.

The Introduction

I greatly enjoyed speaking with you about your residency program! Our engaging conversation made me very excited to pursue the opportunity to complete your PGY-2 Ambulatory Care Residency at the Detroit VA. My interest in ambulatory care sparked as a pharmacy student and has grown during my PGY-1 residency at the Philadelphia VA. My career goal is to be a clinical pharmacist who provides direct patient care to manage chronic disease states in an ambulatory setting. I thrive on patient interactions and want to improve outcomes and quality of life for my patients through education and optimization of drug therapy.

It is best if you can start the letter by recalling a specific previous encounter you had with the employer (or program director). However, if you have not had prior contact, you can start off your letter by briefly stating what you are currently doing (Example: I am currently a student at… OR I am completing a residency at…). The most important part of the “Introduction” is to state the fact that you are interested in applying for a particular position. End the first paragraph with a bold and concise summary statement of your goal/objective (why you want the position basically).

Your Goal/Interest/Aspirations

The intimate practice environment of ambulatory care allows me to connect with patients and directly influence their care. I wholly enjoy the process of becoming acquainted with patients and earning their trust as a healthcare provider. In fact, patients repeatedly commend that I have a personable and compassionate aura that allows them to feel comfortable and trusting; this greatly facilitates my success in their care. I feel liberated as a provider working in the clinics because of the responsibility that’s bestowed upon me to manage patients’ disease states. I love educating patients and managing their medications. The work that I’ve done thus far in ambulatory care has all been very meaningful and rewarding and I truly hope to continue practicing in this area.

This paragraph should give the reader more details on your interests so they can paint a better picture of you. Try to showcase your personality and passion here.

Why You Want the Position

The knowledge and skills I acquired from my education at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and PGY-1 residency training at the Philadelphia VA have provided a solid foundation to commence practice as a clinical pharmacist. However, I realized that I need more experience in order to practice independently in ambulatory care with confidence. Through your PGY-2 program, I will acquire extensive training and mentorship from colleagues who are ambulatory care experts; this will allow me to build-upon and sharpen the depth and scope of my clinical expertise so that I may practice as an outstanding ambulatory pharmacist.

Why You are a Good Fit

I meet the credentials of a qualified candidate for your program. I am well versed with the VA system and will be able to readily integrate myself into the Detroit VA to maximize my learning. Additionally, I will be obtaining my teaching certificate and have precepted several students, therefore I would be prepared to assist in training pharmacy students that rotate at your site. As we discussed earlier, I have experience in several areas that the Detroit VA wishes to expand into, such as discharge counseling and psychiatry. I am an independent learner and a diligent worker who tackles challenges and constantly engages in self-critique to improve myself professionally. My preceptors can all attest that I take initiative, am detailed-oriented, and responsible. My communication skills deliver effective written and verbal information. My agreeable personality allows me to work well with colleagues. These attributes ensure that I would excel as a resident at the Detroit VA.

This paragraph is your time to “gloat” – do NOT be shy. You need to tell them explicitly why you are the best candidate for this position. Be sure to provide concrete examples that support your statements. I would refrain from being too lofty or exaggerated (which may turn some people off) when describing your credentials, but definitely clearly explain your credentials. You need to sell yourself and allow them to see why they would benefit from having you.

Why They are a Good Fit

Your residency program offers vast opportunities that nurture my professional growth with its strong team of experienced ambulatory specialists and prime location in the heart of Detroit’s medical district. The diverse rotations offered at your site will allow me to achieve expertise in several chronic diseases. The proposed longitudinal training model greatly enthuses me because it would allow me to provide continuous care for my patients. Furthermore, I would be thrilled to be part of the piloting residency class as I have helped to initiate several new programs in the past, such as the pharmacist video visits for home-based patients at the Philadelphia VA and immunization and diabetes management services at a local independent pharmacy. Training at the Detroit VA will refine me into the excellent ambulatory clinician that I aspire to become.

This paragraph explains why you want this specific/particular position. This lets them see why you are pursuing them and not another program/position.

The Conclusion

In this packet I have included the requested application materials: VA Form 10-2850d, current CV, official transcript, and three recommendation letters. For additional information or clarifications, please do not hesitate to contact me at [email] or [phone]. I look forward to the opportunity to interview with you. Thank you!

End the letter by stating the fact that you’ve completed all of the application materials as requested. Offer them your contact information, thank them for their time, and state that you look forward to the interview. This portrays a confident applicant.

We Say
Hopefully this example gives a clearer guide for how to write a good letter! Your Cover Letter should be no longer than 1 page (play around with the font size/formatting to make it fit). It should be clear and concise; above all, it should make them want to interview you!

Keep in mind that your first draft won’t be your best. Keep re-writing! Nhi recalls editing this letter at least four times… Don’t submit any application material until you’re completely satisfied and at least another pair of eyes have helped you edit.



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