Writing a CV for Medical Residency
Get noticed for your accomplishments with a compelling CV
You’re probably already familiar with a curriculum vitae’s function and the type of information needed from preparing your medical school applications. One of the primary functions of a CV is to provide a succinct chronicle of your experience and training. Sometimes, a CV is referred to as a “résumé” or just a “vita.”
In a sense, a CV is a multipurpose, personal application form for employment, educational opportunities, honors and awards, presentations, research, and membership or participation in an organization. What you ultimately decide to put on your CV depends on what position you are applying for.
Although there is no hard rule about how many pages your CV should be, students should know that an overly lengthy one can work against their interests. No matter how many accomplishments you list, you won’t impress interviewers during Match season if they can’t quickly pick out two or three good reasons to choose you over someone else.
Because of the nature of the medical profession, in which the years of preparation are highly structured and generally comparable from institution to institution, reverse chronological order is often preferred.
During the Match, CVs are used for more than just residency interviews. Your letter of recommendation writers will appreciate a copy as well, to give them an overview of your trajectory and background.
Keep reading to ensure that your CV helps you put your best foot forward.
- Ideally, you’ll have started building your CV early in your medical school years by seeking leadership roles , research experience, scholarships, and other opportunities that can be listed on a CV. Rather than updating your CV all at once when it’s time to apply for residency, keep a living CV that you update once every six months to a year, so that you don’t forget your experiences (it can happen) and so you accurately represent them.
- Organize the information in your CV sections by reverse chronological order. Start with what you’re doing now and work backwards.
- Including examination scores on your CV isn’t necessary. Program directors receive this information through the Electronic Residency Application Service, and letter of recommendation writers are unlikely to find the detail useful.
- Be abbreviated and succinct in your writing. Full sentences can weigh your CV down. Your personal statement is the place for narrative, expression, and explanatory language.
- Your CV design and layout should be neat and simple. Make sure the text can breathe, but don’t get tripped up thinking of ways to make your CV look unique. You want your content to be loud, not your document style. Read Strolling through the Match(84 page PDF) to see a sample CV layout.
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Here are nine elements that are standard on a medical student’s CV, as well as suggestions for what to include in each area.
- Personal Data—For consistency, give your name exactly as it appears in your medical school records. Make sure you can be reached at the address, phone number, and email address that you list. Use a professional email address that you check often. Include hospital paging phone numbers, if appropriate. Indicate whether there are certain dates when you should be reached at other locations.
Keep the personal data limited to name and contact information, for the most part, and use it in the header of your CV.
- Education—List your current place of learning first. Include the name of the institution, the degree sought or completed, and the date of completion or date of expected completion. Remember to include medical school, graduate education, and undergraduate education. Omit high school.
Later in your career, you’ll add separate categories for “Postgraduate Training” (includes residencies and fellowships), “Practice Experience,” “Academic Appointments,” and “Certification and Licensure.”
- Honors and Awards—It’s appropriate to list any academic, organizational, or community awards or scholarships, but you must use your own judgment as to whether an achievement that you value would be valuable to the person reading your CV.
- Professional Society Memberships—List any professional organizations to which you belong and the years of your membership. Include leadership positions held, if any.
- Employment Experience—List the position, organization, and dates of employment for each work experience. Limit this list to those experiences that are medically related (e.g., med tech, nurse’s aide, research assistant) or that show the breadth of your work experience (e.g., high school teacher, communications manager).
If you’ve held several jobs before or during medical school that aren’t related to your medical career directly, you should leave these out, but you may wish to use a section header such as “Selected Employment Experience” to still convey your diverse work history.
- Extracurricular Activities—List your outside interests, volunteer service, and extracurricular activities. These help develop a broader picture of your personality and character. Also, any special talents or qualifications that have not been given due recognition in other parts of the CV should be highlighted in this or a separate section. For example, include things such as fluency in other languages or a certification such as a private pilot’s license.
- Publications and Presentations—List any papers you’ve published or presented by title, place, and date of publication or presentation. Works accepted for publication but not yet published can be listed as “(forthcoming).”
- Personal and Professional Interests—Include any information demonstrating your passion and drive that might not have been captured in other sections.
- References—You may be asked to provide personal and professional references. These names may be included in the CV, appended as part of a cover letter or application form, or noted as “Provided Upon Request.”
ERAS® creates a CV for you based on the information you put into the application about your experience and history. However, it’s recommended that you build and maintain your own CV throughout your training. You’ll use your CV throughout your educational and professional career, and creating your own CV will give you more flexibility in what information you include and how it’s structured.