An Applicants Guide To Writing a Curriculum Vitae
Building a strong CV can be one of the most daunting tasks as a medical student. Deciding what activities you should engage in and include is the beginning of the lengthy and important document that is meant to showcase your talents and achievements. Here we will discuss how to write a medical CV to impress your residency program of choice!
Purpose of CV
Remember that a CV is very different from your resume. Although a large amount of the information is the same, you should have a copy of both your resume and CV ready in your academic arsenal. While a resume is more focused on obtaining a job, your CV focuses largely on your academic portfolio and showcasing your eligibility for broader academic positions. The intention of your CV is to highlight your academic history and experience in an organized and concise manner.
Formatting can differ among institutions. For the purpose of a medical CV, some sections can be included optionally, or broken down into subsections if there is a large amount of information to include. For example, if your Experience section is very extensive, you can split it up into Research, Teaching and Volunteering experience to help maintain a more organized format flow. Before you start filling out your CV, check out our Sample template to get an idea of how you will need to organize each section. These are a few important points to keep in mind when formatting:
- Maintain clearly labelled and separate sections
- Bold headings with a larger font size
- Order sections from most relevant to supplementary (Contact and Personal Information and Education should always be the first 2 sections)
- Provide 1-inch margins around entire page
- Utilize 12 Point font, Times New Roman (preferred)
- Organize information in reverse chronological order
What to Include
In general, here is a list of the Basic Sections that should be included. It may look overwhelming at first but don’t worry we will go over them in detail!
- Contact/Personal Information
- Honors and awards
- Grants and fellowships
- Conferences and affiliations
- Languages and skills
- Extracurricular Activities
This section is pretty self-explanatory, identifying yourself as the applicant, and providing the means for your reader to contact you when they are inevitably impressed with your amazing CV!
- Legal name (as seen on passport)
- Professional email
- Phone number
- Address (optional unless requested)
Adding a personal profile subsection is completely optional, unless you feel there are additional platforms highlighting your experience that you would like to include, most of the personal information can also be included under Contact Information *CAVEAT: make sure all associated online profiles are completely professional and do not include any personal or social media connections that could potentially affect your professional representation. Some of the additional things that could be placed here include:
- Linkedin Profile
- Additional professional sites relevant to your application
- Professional photo
Reminder to follow the reverse chronological order format for this section, including all relevant educational achievements earned or in progress. Note that for a Medical CV, the first listed educational experience is usually your Bachelors or Associates degrees, and High-school education is not expected to be included. Each educational experience should be sub-sectioned chronologically and include the following details:
- Official school name (no abbreviations)
- Graduation date: actual or expected
- Degree earned/in progress
- Focus of study (Major/Minor, or Program name)
- GPA (optional-only add if impressive)
- Dean’s honour roll (optional-dates/what periods of time awarded)
Honors and awards
You can include honors and awards in your education portion as well. This section could include School awards, Dean’s Honor Roll, Cum Laude, or other academic acknowledgements you have received from your experience. For example: if you have received an award for Clinical excellence from a Health Care institution.
You can break experience into clinical, research, teaching, and volunteer experience as separate subsections in this category. Remember to only include separate sections for experience that you are able to provide multiple examples for. If you have only one example per section it may be better to group these into one section.
This can include research courses you’ve taken, research you have worked on in labs under an instructor’s supervision, or independent projects.
Including a strong teaching experience section can be a great way to showcase your leadership and dedication in medicine. Teaching experience can be any of the following:
- School TA sessions
- Recognized school study groups
- Mentor groups
A few examples of volunteer experience that may be relevant to your medical CV are:
- Abroad trips
- Campus Emergency Response Teams
- Medical Fairs
- Shadowing physicians
Publications should be added in the specific citation format of your program of choice. This may be in APA or MLA format depending on the area of study your publication belongs to. If you have a large amount of publications to include, try to select the most impressive papers that correlate with your program. For example, if you are applying to an Internal Medicine Residency, the publications pertaining to this specialty would take precedence over papers that focus on pediatrics or psychiatry.
Medically related certifications are a great supplementary addition to your CV in order to further impress your reader with your involvement and dedication to medicine! Here’s a few examples of potential certifications you can add:
- Basic Life Support (AHA)
- Acute Cardiac Life Support (AHA)
- Pediatric Advanced Life Support (AHA)
- Interpersonal Health Care Delivery
- Cultural competency
Grants and fellowships
This could include Scholarships, Research grants, or clinical education courses obtained independently.
Conferences and Affiliations
This is another supplementary section to show your above and beyond involvement in your specialty of choice.
- Medical clubs/groups your involved with
- Neurology Conferences
- American Medical Student Association (AMS) membership
- Internal medicine interest groups
Languages and skills
Only include a language if you are fluent or are conversationally competent. If you are applying to an area with a large population that speaks a separate language it might be beneficial to show initiative to learning that language to increase your eligibility for that program. Next, add a few important skills and strengths that you possess in a short, listed format. This may feel a little awkward or “braggy”, but it also shows that you are comfortable with self-evaluation and attributes that you bring to the table.
You might think that adding a Sports team or Social activity doesn’t matter in an application process, but ultimately being part of a regular team sport requires time management, and the sport itself requires teamwork and communication skills that are such important qualities to possess as a physician.
Depending on the application, references may be requested individually through online sites or by mail, but in general you should have at least 4 minimum references available upon request.
Keeping your CV updated on a yearly basis is recommended by most educational establishments. Therefore, it can be helpful to fill in new additions as you accomplish them to avoid forgetting relevant details you’ve worked so hard for. Remember DON’T add fluff or filler information in your CV, you want to keep the contents concise, relevant and as impressive as possible! It’s also never a bad idea to keep your most important and impressive information at the top of a list to catch the eye of your reader!
I hope you found this CV breakdown helpful, and feel confident and ready to build your CV next! You can also visit the Association of American Medical Colleges site to learn more! Also visit our Residency Application Advising page to book a FREE consultation with our Residency Experts and receive one-on-one coaching from a licensed MD! Happy writing Future Doctors!
Oh, by the way, you can find a few of our own templates for download below!