• Writing a Curriculum Vitae for Medical Residency

    What's a Curriculum Vitae?

    Your curriculum vitae (CV) is the next evolutionary step beyond the self-summary that made up your medical school applications. It provides a succinct chronicle of your education, training, and experience to this point. The CV (or vita) isn’t a résumé as much as it is a multipurpose declaration of your professional history, gathering your academic and employment histories alongside honors, awards, presentations, research, and organizational affiliations.

    Writing Your CV

    Longer isn’t necessarily better when it comes to CVs. 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. Aim for concision. And remember that reverse chronological order is the most common structure.

    How is Your CV Used During Medical Residency Match?

    CVs are more than just a framework for Match residency interviews. Anyone providing you with a letter of recommendation will better grasp your background and aims by referring to your CV.

    Strategies for Writing Your CV

    • You’ll find the foundation of your CV in whatever leadership roles, research experience, scholarships, or other opportunities you undertook early in medical school, even if you haven’t previously compiled these elements in CV form. Once you’ve organized this information, update your CV every six months or so. Start with what you’re doing now and work backward.
    • Including examination scores on your CV isn’t necessary. Program directors receive this information through the Electronic Residency Application Service, and those composing letters of recommendation on your behalf won’t benefit from it. 
    • Keep it short. Full sentences can weigh your CV down. Your personal statement is the place for narrative, expression, and explanation.
    • Your CV design and layout should be neat and simple, with plenty of space for your text to breathe. It’s the content that counts, not the look. Read Strolling through the Match to see a sample CV layout.


    The Strolling Through the Match guide includes expanded advice and a sample CV from a fourth-year student.

    Get the Guide

    Eight Steps to Writing a Stronger CV

    1. Start now: Chances are, you already have examples of your research, scholarship, leadership, volunteer efforts, or published work to help you stand out. 
    2. Keep the length short: You won’t impress interviewers if the best reasons to choose you are on the fifth page.  
    3. Make your language concise: Your CV should be succinct, not explanatory. Recap your achievements and save the details for your personal statement, bio, or cover letter. 
    4. Get the order right: Arrange your CV in reverse chronological order, starting with where you are today.
    5. Be unique: Application forms show what an institution wants to know about everybody, but a CV lets you put the spotlight on yourself: the key accomplishments and activities that truly set you apart.
    6. Customize it: Review, restructure, or even rewrite your CV so that it’s tailored to the position you’re seeking. Consider keeping two versions handy — a short summary of your training and experience, and a longer document with sharper focus on your publications and presentations.
    7. When in doubt, leave it out: Be honest and specific about your level of participation in a project or activity, and never invent or embellish.
    8. Ask an expert: Your dean’s office may be able to share CV samples or other guidance, student organizations at your school may hold CV review events, and many conferences offer these services to attendees. Look for opportunities to have your CV reviewed through local and national student, medical, and specialty societies.

    Eight tips to help you strengthen your CV for a successful Match.

    View the Infographic

    Nine Elements of a Medical Student's CV

    1. Personal Data: Keep personal data limited to name and contact information, and use it in the header of your CV. Give your name exactly as it appears in your medical school records. Use an address, phone number, and email address that you check often.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Professional Society Memberships: List any professional organizations to which you belong and the years of your membership. Include leadership positions held, if any.
    5. Employment Experience: List the position, organization, and dates of employment for each work experience. Limit this list to those experiences that are medically related or that show the breadth of your work experience. You may wish to use a section header such as “Selected Employment Experience” to convey positions not directly related to your medical career but show your diverse work history.
    6. 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.
    7. 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).”
    8. Personal and Professional Interests: Include any information demonstrating your passion and drive that might not have been captured in other sections.
    9. 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.”

    For more detailed CV writing tips and strategies, download your free copy of Strolling Through the Match.

    ERAS and Your CV: Why Both is Better

    CVs are not among the standard Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS®) application documents. Though residency programs can generate a report in CV format based on the information in your application, creating and maintaining your own CV allows you greater flexibility in what aspects of your education, training, and affiliations you include, and how these and other elements are structured. And it’s a document you’ll use and revise throughout your career.

    ERAS® captures

    • Biographical information
    • Education
    • Transcripts
    • Training
    • Experience
    • Publications

    Preparing a stand-alone CV lets you

    • Reduce time spent completing the ERAS application
    • Meet some programs’ CV requirements
    • Allow yourself greater flexibility about what to include
    • Maximize your interview readiness
    • Get a head start on documenting your entire career.