In this blog, you will learn what the purpose of a medical school resume is, what to include in your resume, and how to create a perfect resume to impress medical school admissions committees. Finally, you will get to read an outstanding example of a medical school resume!
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A medical school resume is just one of the many components of your medical school application.
And although it's not required by many of the medical programs in the US and Canada, a well-crafted medical school resume can be a great way to demonstrate your accomplishments and stand out from the crowd by showcasing your relevant experiences.
Remember to research your schools of choice for medical school requirements, medical school acceptance rates, and medical school application timelines before you start writing your medical school resume to see how you fit in as an applicant. Each medical school has its own expectations. Knowing what your schools of choice value in their matriculants will help you decide which relevant experiences to highlight in your medical school resume.
The Purpose of a Medical School Resume
The purpose of a medical school resume is to showcase your most relevant and strongest accomplishments that make you the right candidate for the medical school to which you are applying. And although a medical school resume is not a necessary application component, it may become your competitive edge when admissions committees review thousands of applications side by side.
As I mentioned earlier, many medical schools in Canada and the US do not require candidates to submit a medical school resume as part of their application. Students who do consider writing a medical school resume probably wonder whether admissions committees read the resumes, considering the sheer volume of applications each medical school receives.
The answer is probably no.
During the initial screening, most admissions committees will only scan your resume, looking for something that may catch their attention, while taking a closer look at your medical school personal statement, AMCAS Work and Activities, and other application components.
Some schools may even use automated systems to sort through the resumes, searching for certain keywords within the text that will pre-qualify the curriculum vitae or resume for further review.
That means you must be very strategic in the keywords you use for subheadings and titles, knowing exactly what is expected of you.
So, what is a medical school admissions committee looking for and how can you stand out?
Think beyond your GPA and your MCAT score. Medical schools want to see applicants who have clinical experience even before entering the program. So, clinical experience is a great keyword phrase to include in your medical school resume.
Other examples of great keywords are "research" and "publications." If you have conducted scientific research during college and even better, if you have published or formally presented your findings, you will certainly attract attention by incorporating these experiences in your resume.
The examples above are the most important keywords, as they relate directly to what medical schools expect from applicants, but there are more.
Here's a list of keywords that you can use in the text of your medical school resume:
- Community Service
The Content of your Resume
Let's look at the information you must include in your medical school resume and how to organize it in different sections.
There are some must-have sections that you can't leave out, like your contact info, education, and experience. The other sections listed below are optional, but if relevant, you should include them.
Don’t feel like you must include all the sections below. Perhaps you don’t have teaching experience or published papers. It’s alright. Just be straightforward about your experience and don’t try to embellish your resume with inaccurate information.
Now, let’s review the medical school resume sections one by one.
Should you include a professional objective at the top of your resume? Some advisors say yes, because it will make you stand out, but some experts say no, because it’s obvious that your objective is to become a medical school student.
If you plan to include it, make it pop. Use words that describe your personality, such as passionate, relentless, motivated, or hard-working. You may also add your degree and any important work experience.
Here are two examples:
1. Driven medical researcher applying to Stanford Medical School. An Honor Student in the Dean’s list at Johns Hopkins University with a BS in Neuroscience. GPA of 3.79. with focus in pathology. MCAT Score: 519/521.
2. Passionate doctor's assistant with one year of experience in a clinical setting, seeking admission into the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine, to gain knowledge and experience in patient care and medicine.
Note that each of the objectives above has a different focus. While the first example is focused on research, the second one focuses on patient care. What is your end goal for your medical career? Why do you want to be a doctor? Make it clear in your professional objective.
The top section of your resume includes your basic contact information:
- Full name
- Home address
- Telephone number
- Email address
- LinkedIn profile Example:
3204 Main St, Baltimore, MD 21218 | (216) 522-7304 | [email protected] | www.linkedin.com/in/john-johnson
First impressions are vital, so use a professional email address such as your university’s email or a personal email with your full name, like [email protected] Don’t use emails with cute nicknames like [email protected]
This is the section where you add your college and university degrees and other relevant educational experience (no need to include your High School, though, unless it’s very recent and you feel it’s important).
What to include in your education section:
- The degree earned
- School name and location
- Graduation year
Optional: You can also include your thesis title, name of your supervisor, relevant coursework, as well as your MCAT score. Admissions committees want to see that you did well in medical school prerequisites, advanced level courses, and the MCAT exam, because your performance indicates whether you can handle med school coursework.
Johns Hopkins University - Baltimore, MD
Bachelor of Science, Neuroscience B.S. 08/16-05/18GPA: 3.79 | Dean’s list
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Neuroscience: Cellular and Systems
- Comparative Physiology
- Organic Chemistry
Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) - Cleveland, OH
Bachelor of Arts, Psychology B.A. (transferred to program above) 08/14-05/16
GPA: 4.0 | Dean’s High Honors
The Phi Beta Kappa Prize (student with the best academic record)
Here, be sure to add all relevant professional, clinical, and research experience, including jobs, volunteer work, internships, and community involvement.
While it’s impossible to have experience in all of these categories, it is important to have some of these included in your resume. For example, if you feel that your shadowing experience is a weak point of your application, learn how to ask to shadow a doctor and commit to it for a substantive period of time. On the other hand, if you think that you have not completed enough volunteer hours to impress admissions committees, learn how many volunteer hours for medical school you need.
Your experience will demonstrate, directly or indirectly, if you really have what it takes to be a doctor. Having experience taking care of patients, being exposed to clinical medicine during an internship, shadowing a doctor, and demonstrating compassion through volunteer work, speaks louder than words about your motivation to enter medical school.
List your professional experience in reverse-chronological order (from the most recent to the oldest), with job title, company name, dates worked and below that, add in bullet points both your duties and achievements. Use only 3-5 bullet points and start each one with a powerful action verb. This format will present a concise summary of your position and focus on the main responsibilities you had.
Pathology Dept. of Johns Hopkins Medical School - Baltimore, MD
Research Assistant 08/16 - Present
- Conducting behavioral tests on animal subjects and writing research reports
- Performing various molecular laboratory experiments
- Developing research methods and investigating results with Principal Investigators
- Presenting findings in Johns Hopkins Day of Research in Engineering, Arts, Medicine and Science
Johns Hopkins Hospital - Baltimore, MD
Doctor’s Assistant 10/16-Present
- Shadowing plastic surgeon, oncologist, and gynecologist
- Attending rounds, observing surgeries, and communicating with patients’ family
John Hopkins Bayview Hospital - Baltimore, MD
Volunteer Librarian 02/17 - Present
- Distributing books and magazines to hospitalized patient
- Coordinating with patients, patients’ family and medical stuff
- Trained new volunteers to organize books and communicate with patients
Johns Hopkins Children’s Center - Baltimore, MD
Volunteer 09/17 – 12/17
- Communicated and interacted with young patients with different conditions
- Encouraged children to conduct various activities and healthy behaviors
CWRU Hospital Pride Program - Cleveland, OH
Doctor’s Assistant at Geriatric Department 10/15 - 08/16
- Communicated between health providers and elderly patients
- Led new volunteers and helped them develop communication skills
- Organized patients’ visiting files
Duke Biofeedback Clinic - Durham, NC
Doctor’s Assistant 05/15-08/15
- Shadowed psychiatrists and psychologists in Pain Management department
- Assisted physicians to obtain patients’ information and involved in meetings to discuss patient cases
The extracurricular activities section will help the admissions committee identify if you possess essential non-cognitive skills, emotional intelligence, and the dedication required to handle the rigors of medical school and become a great physician.
There is no set standard of extracurriculars for medical school that you should have. Each applicant is different and what you add to this section can set you apart from other applicants and show your abilities outside the classroom.
Add your hobbies and other personal extracurricular activities outside of your studies to show who you are, your interests, and your motivations. Some of the most common medical school interview questions ask applicants about their lives outside of academia. During the medical school interview, you can tie in how the lessons you learned from your extracurricular experiences can help you succeed in medical school.
Some students decide to add their clinical, research and community service experience under the extracurriculars section instead of the experience section. This is a matter of formatting and it doesn’t necessarily have a negative impact on your resume. However, keep in mind that “Experience” is one of the key sections of your medical school resume, so use your judgment when choosing where to include each relevant experience.
Skills and Interests
This optional section can make a big difference if you list some skills relevant for a future physician. For example, being fluent in more than one language means that you will be able to communicate with some patients in their native language.
Don’t go overboard with a long list of skills, but be sure to include some transferable skills such as leadership, which you can demonstrate with tutoring or teaching experience, or being a sports team captain. Licenses and certifications you have received are also a good way to showcase your skills.
Other important and relevant skills are:
- Communication (writing, public speaking)
- Problem Solving
- Technical and computer skills
- Management skills
Remember to always support your skills with solid experiences. It is always better to show, rather than simply tell, what skills and abilities you developed during your education and extracurricular activities.
Bonus Section: Research Groups and Publications
You can add research groups and publications under the education or experience section, depending on when and where you participated in the groups or published your work.
However, if you have a fair number of items to showcase, you may want to list them in a separate section. That way, you will draw more attention to your research skills. And this may be important if the school you’re applying to has a strong research emphasis or if your objective is to become a biomedical researcher. To learn if the school to which you are applying values research experience, be sure to check out their program description and mission statement. Demonstrating strong research background is especially important if you’re applying to MD-PhD programs.
Formatting Your Resume
Here are some tips for formatting your medical school resume:
Length: Keep your resume one or two pages long. Space is limited, so you should only include relevant information that will help the admissions committee make a decision in your favor.
Readability: Make sure your resume is easy to read by using a font size between 12 and 14, leaving plenty of white space for margins and between sections, and listing items as bullet points. In other words, make your resume scannable.
Design: Highlight important sections with larger text for titles or use a different color, such as blue, but don’t use more than two colors in your resume. You can also use lines and boxes to separate sections. Do not use funky fonts or colors. Your resume must be straightforward and professional.
Even if you don’t have graphic design experience, there are a number of online tools you can use, such as Canva, to create your own resume. Check out some samples of creative resume designs to get some inspiration to design your medical school resume.
Grammar and punctuation: Just like with other medical school application components, you must ensure that your resume does not have any grammatical errors or punctuation mistakes. Read through your resume several times. It might be a good idea to take a break of couple of hours between writing the resume and editing it, so you can review what you wrote with fresh eyes.
Finally, save your resume as a PDF to ensure readability and that the format won’t change when opened in a different computer.
Medical School Resume Sample and Template
The following sample demonstrates which sections and types of experiences you may include in your own resume. Pay close attention to actionable verbs and keywords used by the writer.
1111 Boul Rene-Levesque, Montreal, Quebec, H3G 0B8
(514) 8905-5760 | [email protected]
BACHELOR OF SCIENCE: HONORS BIOLOGY 2010 - 2014
McGill University, Montreal, QC
GPA: 3.95/4.0; Dean’s Honor List Sciences Graduate
WORK AND RESEARCH EXPERIENCE
UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCHER May 2012 – Aug 2014
Vogel Lab-McGill University, Montreal, Quebec
- Honors research project investigating the dynamic localization of Kar9 on the mitotic spindle
- Undergraduate research looking at Kar9 as a reporter of spindle assembly
- Awarded three consecutive Summer research grants to study the Spindle Pole Bodies role in influencing microtubule behavior project through long range signaling
UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH ASSISTANT Oct 2011 - Apr 2012
Vogel Lab-McGill University, Montreal, Quebec
- Assisted graduate students with carrying wet-lab work including protein purification and strain preparation
- Trained on the confocal microscope and gained experience coding with MATLAB
CLINICAL RESEARCH ASSISTANT Jun 2011 - Aug 2011
Department of Psychiatry-McGill University, Montreal, Quebec
- Conducted medical chart reviews and data mining
PUBLICATIONS & PRESENTATIONS
- Poster Presentation: Johnson, J. (2015, Aug 28) Age dependent symmetry breaking of Kar9. Poster session presented at the 5th Annual Symposium of the Cellular Dynamics of Macromolecular Complexes Program, Montreal, Canada.
SOCCER COACH Sep 2016 – May 2017
McGill Intramurals, Montreal, Quebec
- Founded, organized, and coached the McGill Biology Student Union’s soccer team (Socceromyces) for 2 years
- Organized and coached the McGill Medicine intramural soccer team during the first year of medical school
HOSPITAL VOLUNTEER October 2014 – May 2016
McGill University Health Center- Montreal General Hospital, Montreal, Quebec
- Friendly visitor in the dialysis unit and orthopedics unit
- Emergency room volunteer: portered patients to and from imaging and prepared stretchers
ACHIEVEMENTS & AWARDS
First Class Honors in Biology 2014
- Awarded to students graduating with a GPA of 3.75 or higher and having successfully completed the Honors program.
Dean’s Honors List Graduate – Bachelor of Science (Graduating Student) 2014
- This distinction is conferred upon no more than the top 10% of graduating students in each faculty based on cGPA
Science Undergraduate Research Award May 2014 - Aug 2014
- Awarded for 16 weeks of full-time research and development activity under the supervision of a McGill science professor.
NSERC Cellular Dynamics of Macromolecular Complexes Undergraduate Fellowship May 2013 - Aug 2013
- NSERC CDMC Undergraduate Research Fellowship was part of the NSERC CREATE program.
NSERC Cellular Dynamics of Macromolecular Complexes Undergraduate Fellowship May 2012 - Aug 2012
- NSERC CDMC Undergraduate Research Fellowship was part of the NSERC CREATE program.
Advisory Board Scholarship in Science 2012
- Awarded by the Faculty of Science Scholarships on the basis of high academic standing.
Dean’s Honors List Graduate – Bachelor of Science (Continuing Student) 2012
- This distinction is conferred upon no more than the top 10% of students. Continuing students are named to the list based on the combined GPAs for the Fall and Winter terms.
McGill Science Undergraduate Society’s (SUS) award for best new initiative of the year 2014
- Non-monetary award presented at the SUS appreciation night to recognize the best new initiative among the different science departments for that year
McGill Science Undergraduate Society’s (SUS) award for best event of the year 2013
- Non-monetary award presented at the SUS appreciation night to recognize the best event among the different science departments for that year
PRESIDENT May 2013 - August 2014
The McGill Biology Student Union, Montreal, Quebec
- Represented the undergraduate biology student body during the departmental general council meetings
- Coordinated and supervised the affairs of the McGill Biology Student Union
- Managed a budget of $40,000
- Implemented a locker and study space renewal initiative; awarded the Science Society’s best new initiative award
VICE PRESIDENT OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS Sept 2011 - April 2012
The McGill Biology Student Union, Montreal, Quebec
- Organized information sessions and networking events
- Organized the biology note taking club
- Organized the department’s first career symposium; awarded the Science Society’s best event of the year
ACTIVITIES & INTERESTS
- Self-Sustainability – Including wood working and gardening, mainly using a homemade hydroponic system to maximize produce yield
- Soccer – Multiple seasons organizing, coaching, and playing for university intramural soccer teams
English and Arabic (Fluent written and spoken)
French (Advanced intermediate written and spoken)
Download our Resume Template and fill out the sections with the corresponding information to build your own medical school resume.
Want a quick recap? Check out our video:
1. Is the medical school resume always required for admission?
No. Not all medical schools require a resume as part of the application documents. However, a well-crafted medical school resume can be a great way to demonstrate your uniqueness and stand out from the crowd, showcasing your relevant experiences.
Each medical school has its own expectations. Knowing what your schools of choice value in their matriculants will help you decide which relevant experiences to highlight in your medical school resume.
2. If it’s not a required medical school application component, can I submit the medical school resume in AMCAS, TMDSAS, OMSAS, or whatever application system I am using? Or will I have to submit it separately?
If your school of choice does not require a medical school resume, you can simply submit your biographical information, educational background, and work experience through any of the above application systems.
3. What do medical school admissions committees look for in a resume?
First, they are looking for your educational background to see that you will be able to handle the medical school coursework. This can be demonstrated with your academic record, GPA, and MCAT score.
They also want to see all the relevant professional, clinical, and research experiences, including jobs, volunteer work, internships, and community involvement.
4. Should I include a cover letter with my resume?
Usually, resumes are accompanied by strong cover letters to entice the reader to look at the resume. But for your medical school application, you already have a personal statement and other essays that would replace the cover letter used for job applications.
5. What should I include in my resume?
There are some must-have sections like your contact info, education, and experiences that you can't leave out. Other optional sections include a professional objective, skills and interests, teaching experience, research groups and publications. Don’t feel like you must include all these sections. Perhaps you don’t have teaching experience or published papers. It’s alright. Just be truthful about your experience and don’t try to embellish your resume with inaccurate information.
6. What information should I add to the education section?
You should at least include the following:
- The degree earned
- School name and location
- Graduation year
7. What if I have a low GPA?
Admissions committees value an applicant's transcript because how you performed academically in your undergrad studies is an indication of how you may perform in medical school. If your science and cumulative GPA are lower than the medical school GPA requirements of your chosen schools, it will be difficult to convince the admissions committees that you are a strong candidate. However, there are a few things you can do to get into medical school with a low GPA.
8. What information should I add to the professional experience section?
List your professional experience in reverse-chronological order (from the most recent to the oldest), with job title, company name, dates worked and below that, add in bullet points both your duties and achievements. Use o 3-5 bullets and start each one with a powerful action verb.
9. Should I address any weaknesses in my resume?
Your resume is your chance to put your best foot forward and showcase your experience and your accomplishments. However, "What is your greatest limitation?" or "What's your greatest weakness” is a common medical school interview question and you should be prepared to answer it if invited for an interview.
10. What is the benefit of having a medical school resume?
If your schools of choice require a medical school resume, you should work hard to create a document that demonstrates your suitability for medical school. Remember, the admissions committee will be going over hundreds of applications and they want to quickly scan whether you “fit the bill” using your resume.
If your schools of choice do not require a medical school resume, you can certainly skip creating this document for your application. However, you may want to bring this document to your interview. Remember, many medical schools hold open interviews, which means they will reference your application components and ask questions about your experiences. Having a succinct list of accomplishments with you during your interview can help you reference dates, names, and skills you acquired during your experiences.
11. If not all schools look over medical school resumes, how can I find out whether my school of choice reviews resumes?
Be sure to research the profiles of your top medical school choices by visiting their official websites or using MSAR. Carefully read any admission information or application instructions.
12. If one of my resume sections is weaker than others, does that hurt my chances of acceptance?
It’s impossible to have experiences in every section of the medical school resume. However, there are some activities you should prioritize if you want to attend medical school. Try to have some quality clinical and shadowing experiences, because they signal that you know what it takes to be a physician.
If you’re applying to programs that value medical research, make sure to gain some quality research experience before you apply. Additionally, demonstrate your versatility and interests outside of academia – this will help admissions committees understand your personality and character.
13. How important is a medical school resume? Do I really need to write one?
If your schools of choice require a medical school resume as part of the application, you must submit one. If not, you can choose to forgo this application component. A resume can really help you organize your timeline and show progress – something medical schools truly value.
14. Should I bring a copy of my resume to the medical school interview if I am invited?
Yes. It is a good idea to have this document with you during the interview.
15. I don’t have any publications. Should I explain why this section is missing?
Absolutely not. Do not explain any gaps in your experiences in your resume. However, the admissions committee may ask you about any weaknesses in your application during the interview, so be ready to answer their questions coherently.
To your success,
Your friends at BeMo
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