Writing a medical curriculum vitae (CV)

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A curriculum vitae (CV) is a document that enables to secure an interview, a job, a post or a grant. It also serves as an updated record of skills and accomplishments gained so far.

A CV that is used to apply for medical jobs is known as a medical CV. Nowadays, most medical job applications are submitted online in a fixed format; nonetheless, CVs on paper or digital, are required for certain jobs like surgical training, general practice training, electives, portfolio assessment, grants, or any consultant post. Thus, the CV should be updated regularly, and also customized according to the job requirements.

A medical CV may have any number of headings. Nevertheless, past quantitative and qualitative medical studies recommend the following headings:

1. Introduction or Cover Letter
2. Personal details
3. Medical Career statement
4. Educational and Professional qualifications
5. Current job details
6. Previous job(s) details or Career History
7. Medical or non-medical voluntary work experience
8. Clinical audits or quality improvement work experience
9. Leadership and management skills in medical or non-medical fields
10. Publications and presentations
11. Teaching experience, formal or informal
12. Awards and prizes received
13. Organizing or participating in educational symposiums and training courses
14. Information Technology (IT) skills
15. Accreditation and Membership to professional bodies
16. Personal interests
17. Referees
18. Appendix, if required

The suggested content of the headings is as follows:

1. Introduction or Cover Letter

– the job role is explicitly mentioned. The purpose of the CV should be immediately identified as an application for the stated job role.
– a brief introduction of the applicant should be given.
– why the applicant wants to apply for the job role should be stated.
– it should not exceed a single page.

2. Personal details

– full name followed by abbreviated qualifications (for example, MD, MBBS, BSc).
– registered medical council number/medical defense number, if applicable.
– date of birth, nationality, and sex.
– contact details, including address, phone number and email. Only professional contact details should be provided and not personal contact details.

3. Medical Career statement

– highlight why the applicant is most suitable for the job, by stating relevant medical experience and skills.
– state how the job can help the applicant achieve future professional goals.

4. Educational and Professional qualifications

– the most recent qualification should be listed first.
– scanned qualifications may be placed in the Appendix, or website links may be provided.

5. Current job details

– state current job profile, role, responsibilities, and skills required.
– state other relevant information like the name of the hospital, name of the supervisor, and the date of joining.

6. Previous job(s) details or Career History

– list the relevant jobs held so far, with the most recent job first.
– there is no need to list all the jobs held in the past, and only the relevant jobs should be listed. For example, if the application is for a surgical job, then previous jobs where surgical skills were demonstrated, are relevant jobs and thus, they may be listed.
– listing should include the joining and the termination dates.
– briefly mention the relevant past job profile, role, responsibilities, skills required, and the names of the hospital and the supervisor.

7. Medical or non-medical voluntary work experience

– mention medical experience, for example specialty experience, gained voluntarily.
– state any non-medical experience, for example charity work, gained voluntarily.
– in both the cases, mention what the applicant gained from the voluntary work experiences.

8. Clinical audits or quality improvement work experience

– state any clinical audits or quality improvement works undertaken.
– include the starting and termination dates, the topic of the audit, the role performed, any best practices or guidelines employed, the conclusions reached, and the future consequences or outcomes.

9. Leadership and management skills in medical or non-medical fields

– a doctor must have leadership and management skills, which can be highlighted by showing examples of organizing events, supervising juniors, or holding positions in committees. These examples can relate to medical or non-medical fields.

10. Publications and presentations

– state the publications as they appear in journals and if available, also state the PubMed identification numbers. Any presentations, posters, audits or research projects can also be included in this section.

11. Teaching experience, formal or informal

– state what was taught and to whom it was taught. The topic and the audience should preferably be related to the medical profession. The teaching may be at any level of education and may also be in formal or informal settings. Feedback forms or signed certificates can provide the required evidence of the teaching experience. It is important to state what has been gained from this teaching experience.

12. Awards and prizes received

– list all the awards and prizes received so far, at work and in education. All listings should be ordered with the most recent one appearing on top. The awards that are most relevant to the job application should be highlighted.

13. Organizing or participating in educational symposiums and training courses

– include relevant training courses, for example, for a surgical job application a suturing course, or life support course, is a value addition to the CV. Research, teaching, or management courses are relevant for most medical jobs. Relevancy is also given to language courses or language examinations taken. Generally, courses related to the preparation of examinations are not relevant.
– brief details of each course should include the title, date, and duration of the course.
– the courses may be arranged geographically as regional, national, or international courses. They may also be arranged chronologically. Usually, they are arranged in the order of relevancy, with the courses most relevant to the job being listed first.

14. Information Technology (IT) skills

– include relevant skills in information technology like having the ability of prescribing drugs via a computer. IT skills may include knowing how to use basic software packages like MS Excel or Word, or specialist packages like databases and statistics packages for research.

15. Accreditation and Membership to professional bodies

– list all the society and professional memberships.
– listing should contain those memberships where the applicant has or had been elected.
– after the elected-memberships, the listing may contain those memberships where the applicant had to pay subscription fees or joining fees.

16. Personal interests

– personal interests show the applicant as a well-balanced individual. It is important that no exaggeration or fabrication is attempted while stating the personal interests.
– personal interests may include extracurricular activities like reading, playing golf, going to the gym, charity work, participation in free health clinics, blood donation camps, and any other interest.
– it is important to explain why the stated activity holds interest, what can be gained by doing the activity, and how the activity satisfies or improves the role of being a doctor.

17. Referees

– at least two letters of reference should be included.
– the referees must agree to issue their letters of reference.
– the referees should be made aware of the job role applied, so that they can formulate their letters accordingly.
– if the referees are currently not available, then the references may be listed as “available upon request”.
– any person can become a referee; however, medical professionals as referees are recommended for medical job applications.

18. Appendix, if required

– all scanned documents, suitably identified in the content, should be placed in the appendix.
– web links to relevant websites may also be placed.

A medical CV is formatted in an A4 size page in 12-point Times Roman or Arial font. The minimum margins are 1″ all around. The content should be brief and succinctly stated in bullet points. Large paragraphs should be avoided, and if more details need to be inserted then an Appendix may be included. All scanned copies of qualifications, photos, awards, certifications, and other relevant documents are placed in the Appendix.

The content of the CV should be structured in simple sentences with professional and appropriate medical terminology. Usage of active voice is encouraged along with a positive focus on skills gained. Under no circumstances should false or fabricated information be included and likewise, exaggeration should be strictly avoided.

There is no fixed number of pages for a medical CV. Generally, it is of about 3-4 pages long; however, if there is an Appendix, then the number of pages may increase significantly. The CV should be printed on high-quality white paper.

REFERENCES:
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8. Agha R, Whitehurst K, Jafree D, Devabalan Y, Koshy K, Gundogan B. How to write a medical CV. Int J Surg Oncol (N Y). 2017;2(6):e32. https://insights.ovid.com/crossref?an=01943953-201707000-00011

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