How to Write a Good CV for Professional School or Residency

Everyone hates writing their Curriculum Vitae but who can blame us? It’s difficult to talk about yourself, especially when your whole life you’ve been told to embrace humility- a characteristic particularly sought after in the healthcare professions. It took being paid way less than I deserved as a research coordinator, to finally realize that not being able to talk about myself was not an act of humility, but rather one of self-deprecation. You see, people can’t guess what your experiences or interests are without you telling them. What you write and how you write about yourself directly correlates with the interest a program or employer take in you.

In this blog post I will be sharing two CVs with you. One was submitted to Family Medicine Residencies while the other was used for Orthopedic Surgery Residencies. Both myself and my best friend (who the CVs belong to) were able to get into our top choice residencies. Our CVs helped us accomplish our goals but so did other components which I will briefly list below:

  1. Concise but inclusive CV
  2. Letters of Recommendation from people who can vouch for your work ethic & preferably know you on a personal level
  3. Personal Statement
    • Make sure this covers something that programs/employers would not know about you from other parts of your application such as your CV, grades, or board scores.
  4. Good grades
    • This becomes more important as the competitiveness of the specialty/program you want to get into
  5. Good board Scores
    • make sure you pass on your first try!
    • improve on your next exam if you feel like you scored too low
    • more important as the competitiveness of the specialty increases

Overall Suggestions for your CV

📷SNAPSHOT ~ A CV should function as a snapshot of all your attainments. You should not be including bullet points about the experiences unless you will be providing information that you believe is important for people reading your CV to know.

📃ORDER ~ The way you order the different sections of your CV should be with your ideal program or employer in mind. For an academic program, I suggest the following order:

  1. Education
  2. Awards/Grants/Scholarships
  3. Research Experience
  4. Publications & Presentations
  5. Teaching Experience
  6. Leadership Experience
  7. Observerships
  8. Professional Memberships
  9. Other Achievements
    • I included athletic achievements because those demonstrate discipline + show you are well rounded.
  10. Languages

When complying your CV, always include things in reverse chronological order. Write your most recent achievement first and work your way backwards in all sections of the CV.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ HOW FAR IS TOO FAR? ~ Popular opinion is to not include achievements from college and below if you’re applying to residency, or high school and below if applying to medical school. It is quite possible that other healthcare professions preach the same thing. I am going to go against the grain and tell you that you can include things from those eras of your life if:

  1. They were life changing for you
  2. They attributed to your development of any of the 10 categories mentioned above
  3. It was a long project that you feel makes you stand out
Dr. Stephany G. Eierle & Dr. Anna M. Jacques

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