By Mary Brandt
This article originally appeared on Dr. Brandt’s blog, the wellnessrounds.
Other than the personal statement, there is nothing more distressing to medical students applying for a residency than putting together a Curriculum Vitae (CV).
So, what exactly is a CV?
“The original Latin meaning of curriculum was a course, but of the kind that one runs around (it came from currere, to run). Even more recent — dating from 1902 — is curriculum vitae, literally “the course of one’s life” (from World Wide Words)
Your curriculum vitae is a document that serves as a summary of what you have accomplished as a professional.
What’s the difference between my CV and what I put on my ERAS application?
Your CV and what you put in ERAS differ in two important ways – the content and the format. ERAS will generate a CV from the information you enter, but it’s not in a format that is usually used for a professional CV. In addition, the ERAS generated CV will not have the same information you will want on your CV. For example, ERAS “experiences” don’t translate well into a professional CV.
Why do I need a CV in addition to what I put into ERAS?
- You will need to give your CV to any faculty writing a letter of recommendation.
- You may be asked to send a CV when applying for away electives.
- It’s a good idea to take your CV with you on interviews to provide a copy to the program, especially if you have updated it since your application was submitted.
- If and when you send emails to programs after you interview, it’s a good idea to attach your CV if it has changed at all. Bcc yourself when you do – if there is a problem with the email or the attachment, you’ll know it quickly.
What do I need to include in my CV and what should it look like?
There is no absolute “standard” format for a CV, both in content and in style, but there are some guidelines. In general, in addition to the “heading” with your name and contact information, the following sections (if they apply to you) should be included in the order they are listed.
- Education (degrees, institutions)
- +/- Place of Birth
- +/- Citizenship
- +/- Languages
- Military service
- Work experience (this is not summer jobs unless the pertain to your application i.e. don’t list being a waiter, etc!)
- Volunteer experience (make sure it’s significant. There is no advantage to listing 20 things that all lasted a week or two …. again, unless it’s specifically related to your application… see “don’t pad your CV” below)
- Other training (eg BLS, ACLS, special courses to learn a skill)
- Professional memberships (including leadership positions, committees)
- Honors and awards
- +/- Personal interests (drop after you match if you include it)
It’s a good idea to show your CV to mentors in your specialty to get their feedback since there can be subtle differences in CVs between specialties.
What should I do to avoid common mistakes in creating my CV?
- Pick one font and stick with it. (11 or 12 font and something really standard).
- List items in each section in reverse chronology (most recent first)
- Number your publications and presentations.
- Leave plenty of “white space”
- Don’t “pad” your CV with trivial events or accomplishments – it’s more important it’s accurate and appropriate than long.
- Go ahead and list “hobbies and interests” as your last topic for the residency application, but remove it as soon as you match.
- Double (no, triple) check spelling and formatting. Your CV is often the first impression a program will have.
- NEVER put any designs, photos or logos on your CV.
- If you put your personal email address, make sure it’s a professional email address. If it’s not, it’s time to get a new one.
- Don’t EVER lie or exaggerate.
Where can I find examples or templates for my CV?
Many medical schools have examples on line and all schools have help in the Office of Student Affairs or through other faculty mentoring programs. You can also sign into Careers in Medicine to see examples of CVs, which are also here.
What should I do with my CV after I match?
Remember, your curriculum vitae is a record your professional life… so it’s a “living” document that will need to be updated as new things happen. There is no one else who will every know exactly what you do and what’s really important more than you will. Keep a list somewhere of everything new that should go on your CV and sit down at least every month or so to review and update your CV. After residency when you “graduate” to having an assistant of your own, it’s still probably better to update your CV yourself. The AAMC provides a good example of a typical Faculty CV here which gives you an idea of what your future CV will look like!
Mary L. Brandt, M.D. is Professor of Surgery, Pediatrics, and Medical Ethics at Baylor College of Medicine and a practicing pediatric surgeon at Texas Children’s Hospital. She has held numerous educational roles including Program Director of General Surgery and Senior Associate Dean of Student Affairs. She actively blogs and tweets about medical education and self-care for students, residents and practicing physicians.
Our blog is a forum for our members to speak, and as such, statements made here represent the opinions of the author, and are not necessarily the opinion of the Association of Women Surgeons.