When an RN application asks for 3 professional references, do all have to be from an RN supervisor?

By | 2022-02-18T14:44:08-05:00 October 21st, 2014|1 Comment


Dear Donna,

When an RN application asks for three professional references; do all three have to be from an RN supervisor or can one of them be from an LPN I used to supervise? I really don’t feel comfortable giving the employers the addresses of my references. Is it OK to provide just the phone numbers.

Needs References

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Needs References,

When a prospective employer asks for professional references, unless they specifically ask for a supervisor, you can provide any professional person who can vouch for your competency and work ethic. It could be a co-worker, physician or other professional contact. Your references should be people who are fairly familiar with your work and can attest to both your skill and character.

When choosing references, get their permission first, not only to list them, but to provide their contact information. You don’t want them to be caught off guard. Not only is this courteous, but it also ensures your choice of reference will be comfortable saying positive things about you. If a prospective reference isn’t comfortable giving a reference, she’ll usually politely decline. Knowing this upfront is better than having her speak to a prospective employer and say less than favorable things.

When it comes time to give the references’ names to a prospective employer, call the references and let them know what job or types of jobs for which you’re applying.

Discuss the important characteristics for the job so they can highlight these things when they receive a call. Remind your references of your more significant accomplishments and duties while working for them. Don’t expect them to remember everything about everyone who has ever used them as
a reference.

It’s a good idea to send your references a current copy of your resume. This serves as a reminder of the exact dates of your employment, the job title you held, what your specific duties were and the projects on which you worked. It also serves to keep you fresh in her mind. Besides, you never know whom she may talk to who may be looking to hire someone.

Follow-up is a must. Let your references know the outcome of your job search efforts. Ask if they’ve been called and let them know if you’re still looking, or if you’ve accepted a new position or weren’t offered a job. Stay in periodic touch with your references, even while not job hunting. Be sure to formally thank them with a note or letter in the event they give you a reference, and you wind up getting the job.

Best wishes,


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One Comment

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    Deanna November 27, 2017 at 10:18 pm - Reply

    When an RN application/skill survey asks for at least 5 professional references, what term is a doctor considered to be? Management, Coworker, Fellow Employee? I need 2 supervisor references but I’m not sure if I can use him. Thanks!

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