Knowing exactly what to include in your residency CV for your ERAS or CaRMS application can be challenging, and if your CV isn't put together correctly and doesn't demonstrate what makes you unique as a candidate, residency directors won't be convinced that you're a suitable match for their program. This blog will tell you exactly how to write a residency CV by exploring important sections to include, as well as an example, so you can ensure your residency CV and application will stand out among other candidates. 


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15 min read

Residency CV: Why They’re So Important Purpose of a Residency CV Residency CV: Format Residency CV: Choosing Entries to Include Residency CV: Sections to Include Residency CV Examples FAQs

Residency CV: Why They’re So Important

Residency CV’s matter. Whether you're applying through ERAS or CaRMS, a succinct, easy-to-read residency CV is a key step to getting into your preferred residency program; an excellent residency CV worked for Erin. She just got accepted into a general surgery residency at St. Luke’s University hospital. Erin credits the “instrumental feedback” she got when crafting her residency CV, which she “otherwise would not have thought of.” Learning how to structure her residency CV also “gave a new perspective for some ideas in my personal statements so that I would more effectively accomplish the point that I wanted to make.”

Your CV is also especially important for clarifying for your intentions and background in your chosen specialty, as Dr, Neel Mistry, MD and current diagnostic radiology resident stresses:

“[My] CV showcased my dedication to the specific discipline I was applying for. For instance, collaboration, communication, and independent problem solving are essential to the job of a radiologist. I made sure to give specific [entries] to demonstrate how I have developed each of these skills throughout medical school.” – Dr. Neel Mistry, MD

 

If you have already had a chance to work on your personal statement, the skills you apply to writing your residency personal statements can also be used to help draft your residency CV. One of the key skills you have to learn when writing your residency CV, according to Dr. Neel Mistry, which also applies to writing residency personal statements is knowing what to include and what to exclude. This ability is important because, as Dr. Mistry says, “there is so much you can talk about.” Dr. Mistry has an important tip that we’ll reveal a later about what you should include and exclude in your residency CV, because you can't put everything. Not only is there not enough room, but as Dr. Mistry counsels that “what may appeal to you may not necessarily appeal to the admissions committee.”

Purpose of a Residency CV

The main goal of a residency CV is to showcase your most significant academic achievements and extracurriculars for medical school, leaving a lasting, positive, first impression on those who review it. Essentially, your CV should convince residency directors that you're exactly what they're looking for and are a strong match for their residency program. Not only is having an up-to-date CV important for applying to residency programs and crafting your personal statement, but it's also important for filling out rotation applications and when securing ERAS letters of recommendation or a CaRMS reference letter from physicians. Our expert Dr. Monica Taneja remembers that balancing residency applications and medical school rotations was extremely difficult, so the earlier you start on your CV the better!

“Start early! Balancing residency apps with rotations [was the hardest part]! At my medical school, it was well accepted that 4th years would take time off for interviews, so most rotations are forgiving when you need time off. However, it was still difficult to map out an interview schedule as many times interviews would come with little notice or time to schedule.” – Dr. Monica Taneja, MD, Harvard South Shore, Psychiatry

Note that ERAS and CaRMS can generate a CV for you based on what you include in the application, you won't have control over the format. Creating your own CV gives you more control over what you include and how you include it. You can follow the format we provide below or modify it to suit your preferences. 

Residency CV Format

1. Length and style

A residency CV is typically between 3-5 pages in length and should utilize bullet points instead of complete sentences. Normally, 2-5 bullet points is suitable for each entry and it's a good idea to begin each bullet with an action verb. For example, instead of writing “I was one of two individuals who participated in the development of Obstetric policies”, in one bullet simply write “assisted in developing Obstetric policies”.

2. Consistency

Ensure that the formatting of your residency CV is consistent throughout. For example, use bold and italics to highlight sections and positions, and maintain indent, font, and spacing. Stick with traditional fonts such as Times New Roman or Calibri and keep text black in 10-12pt. It's also a good idea to include your name and page number at the bottom of each page of your CV. Without this information, you risk your CV becoming jumbled with other CVs and important information being lost. 

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3. Chronology

When it comes time to write your residency CV, you must list your history in reverse chronological order, starting from most recent to the oldest. Reverse chronological order helps your reader understand the path you’ve taken up to the present, so they can get an idea of your progression and how you’ve evolved. Listing all your achievements in reverse chronological orders also demonstrates organization; the way you structure and format your CV should speak to your ability to organize and condense vital information; listing your record is one way you can show this. 

4. Detail

An important part of writing a residency CV, or any CV, for that matter, is how you go into detail about a specific experience without giving too much detail. It’s a difficult thing to do, especially if you have a lot of experience or skills. As Dr. Neel Mistry points out:

“[It can be] particularly hard because there is so much you can talk about, and what may appeal to you may not necessarily appeal to the admissions committee.” - Dr. Neel Mistry, MD

One way you can narrow down how you write about your skills is to focus solely on the skills required by your specific specialty. Dr. Neel Mistry listed “collaboration, communication, and independent problem solving” as his essential skills. But he did more than list. He also “made sure to give specific (and ideally different) examples to demonstrate how I have developed each of these skills throughout medical school.” The lesson here is to remember to go into enough detail about your skills and achievements and to limit yourself to those details that are specific to your medical specialty. 

5. Title and organization

When you save your CV, make sure you title it appropriately, start with your first and last name instead of just calling it “CV”. Organization is key, you want your residency CV to be easily identifiable both electronically and on paper. The program directors will thank you for your diligence and attention to detail.

6. Avoid grammatical errors

Lastly, and maybe most importantly, your CV must be free from spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. It's a good idea to have your CV professionally reviewed by a reputable medical school admissions consulting company to ensure your residency CV and application stand out. You will inevitably need to rely on residency CV editing to ensure you're submitting a polished copy devoid of these types of errors. Every candidate might have a different process for creating their application materials; the important thing is to at least read it over a few times before submitting.

Choosing Entries to Include in Your Residency CV

Medical students often struggle with which items to include in their residency CV and which to leave out. From high school to undergrad to medical school, you've likely gained a lot of valuable experiences and have many accomplishments to boot. Just because you have a lot of items you could include in your CV, doesn't mean that you should include them all. You're already past the point of wondering how to choose a medical specialty, but you need to consider how your experiences will reflect this choice. Your main goal is to think about which experiences are most relevant to the medical residency position you're applying for and what items will make you unique among other candidates. Here’s how our admissions expert Dr. Monica Taneja, MD trained at the Harvard South Shore Psychiatry program:

“Psychiatry specifically focuses on a holistic view of applicants and creating cohesive residency classes. I showed preparedness and interest in psychiatry by engaging in research and taking advantage of unique psychiatry rotations offered at my medical school. These both gave me plenty of stories to talk about how I validated the field and showcase how I see my career progressing in psychiatry. [But] I also continued to participate in my hobbies including photography, which came up a lot during interviews!” - Dr. Monica Taneja, MD, Harvard South Shore, Psychiatry

If you find yourself unsure if you should include something, think about whether it will benefit you to include it, and if so, how? Is it an essential piece of information that will help you get selected for an interview? Would you be comfortable answering residency interview questions about this experience? Put yourself in the residency program director's shoes, if you were them and read about this specific experience, would you find it relevant to the position? Would you be interested in learning more? If the answer is no, it's best not to include the experience. And don’t forget that you should demonstrate that you’re an interesting and well-rounded applicant. Here’s what Dr. Neel Mistry, our admissions expert, has to say about what kind of experiences are valued by programs in addition to your medical school experiences and accolades:

“It is important to show that you have a life outside of medicine! I took part in a cricket tournament, amateur cooking sessions, and a drop-in karaoke competition.” Dr. Neel Mistry, MD


Here are some tips for preparing for your residency apps during medical school:

Residency CV Dos and Don’ts

Dos:

1. Start Early

Why? Mostly because it will take you a really long time to create each entry since you will not include everything you have ever done and you will need time to choose and write in detail what you have achieved.

2. Quantify achievements

When possible, you should quantify your achievements with numbers and examples. Firstly, it looks more impressive when you can provide measurable results. Secondly, this will save you space: instead of outlining the actions that led to results, show the results!

3. Use active verbs

This old trick will demonstrate that you take initiative and an active role in whatever you do!

4. Showcase your experience in preferred specialty

Your CV should demonstrate your readiness for your chosen specialty and your back-up specialty.

Demonstrating preparedness for your specialty is key to convincing the application committee and ultimately securing your top residency program.” - Dr. Neel Mistry, MD

 

5. Get feedback

One of the most important aspects of creating an organized, compelling residency CV is having it polished. Any errors will reveal negligence or lack of attention to detail – a pair of damning mistakes. After you've completed your CV and you feel it's ready, ask someone for feedback.

6. The person you ask for help is crucial

They should be a current resident or an active medical professional. You could also consider using residency application consulting.

7. Fulfill requirements

When you write your CV, you can't leave out any elementary information. Most applicants often worry about including too much information, but you should be just as careful not to produce an inadequate CV. In the next section, you will find more about what you need to include. You can use it as a checklist while you create your own polished document.

8. Maintain professionalism

It will be important, and indeed very fundamental for you to use your CV as a means of showing off your best traits – the most palpable of which will be your degree of professionalism. This is a trait that can be most easily detected just by scanning the pages of this document. Things like format and organization can say a lot about you as a professional if you don't get these right.

Don’ts:

1. Lack of consistency

An inconsistent CV is going to be detrimental to your chances of getting matched. If you have gaps in your medical school performance evaluations (MSPE), it’s a good idea to use your CV to fill in those gaps and make your candidacy more cohesive. For example, you can show how your medical school electives impacted your research and employment by making these two sections adjacent if some of the experiences are closely related.

2. Too long or too short

If you have a lot of experiences and your first draft turns out to be more than 5 pages, it’s typically a good indication that you need to trim it. Your first option is to change the formatting to make the information more terse, but avoid crowding the page. Your second option is to look at removing some irrelevant items. For employment, you only want to include relevant experiences you had during medical school. If your CV is too short, usually this means you’re not following the correct order of operations. You will need contact, information, awards, employment, extracurriculars, and others that we will show below.

3. Lying or stretching the truth

You need to be honest on your residency CV, as in your other application documents. Consider it for a moment: when you’re answering the “why should we choose you?” residency interview question, you need to be direct and truthful; not only will the admissions committee easily detect deception or embellished truth, but it will hurt your reputation.

Residency CV Sections to Include

The hierarchy of categories in a residency CV can vary from one CV to the next, but in general, personal information, education, clinical experience, and research experience should be at the top as these are the most relevant sections. Here are the most important sections you must include:

1. Personal Information

The personal information section is standard in every CV and should be included at the very top of the page or as a header, so it's easily identifiable. This section should include the following information:

  • First and last name
  • Mailing addressing
  • Email address
  • Phone number

2. Education

This section should be included right after your personal information so it can be found quickly. Be sure to write your education in reverse chronological order, meaning your most recent education should be listed first. Include your undergraduate and graduate and medical school education. High school information, however, should not be included. If you haven't completed your medical education, you can include your anticipated completion date instead. Include the following sections:

  • Name of the school
  • Program you attended
  • Degree you achieved
  • Year you began and completed your degree (or anticipated completion date)

3. Clinical Experiences

List your medical clinical experiences in reverse chronological order, with the most recent experience first. Be sure to include clinical experiences that are relevant to the program that you're applying to and showcase the skills you developed in these roles. Include the following:

  • Organization or institution name
  • City and state
  • Position title
  • Dates the position was held
  • Action words to summarize your role and responsibilities
  • More depth to your entry by including aspects such as experience setting, patient population, clinical issues, and teams you worked with

4. Research experience

List your research experiences in reverse chronological order, with the most recent experience first. Include the following:

  • Organization or institution name
  • City and state
  • Position title
  • Dates the position was held
  • Use action words to summarize your duties, accomplishments, and successes

5. Publications and Presentations

This section should include any presentations you were involved in, whether you were giving a presentation or contributed to the visual work. In addition, if you've written or contributed to any published articles, books or research papers, list them here. Be sure to use bibliographic citations in the format that is acceptable for your field of study. If a paper has been accepted for publication but hasn't been published yet, you can list this as forthcoming.

Include:

  • Title of presentation or article
  • Conference name
  • Location of conference
  • Date of conference
  • Brief description of the content you contributed
  • Authors
  • Publication volume/issue number/pages
  • Publication status

Want more residency application tips? Watch this video:

6. Volunteer Experience/Extracurriculars

In this section, list your most significant extracurriculars for medical school and volunteer experiences. Make sure you prioritize experiences that were valuable and demonstrate long term commitment instead of one-off activities.

Include:

  • Organization or institution name
  • Position title
  • Dates the position was held
  • Use action words to summarize your duties, accomplishments, and successes

7. Awards and Scholarships

This section should include relevant awards or honors you've received during both your undergraduate and medical school training. This includes scholarships, grants, teaching assistantships, and even being included on the Dean's list. Instead of writing in reverse chronological order, this section can be written in order of importance, to highlight the most impressive achievements first. Make sure you include items that will help your candidacy as opposed to listing every and any award or scholarship you've ever received. For example, you don’t need to include that you made the honor roll in your freshman year of your undergraduate program.

Include:

  • Name of the honor/award
  • Date you received the honor/award
  • Location of the award

Optional Sections for Residency CV

1. Interests/Activities/Skills

Including hobbies, interests, and skills can be beneficial as it shows that you have interests outside of medicine and are a well-rounded individual. Remember, the admissions committee wants to see your personality show in your materials as well. For example, there are many ways for you to show personality when you’re answering certain interview questions, such as the interesting case residency interview question, or “why should we choose you?” However, it’s important to take advantage of other opportunities to demonstrate personality traits, which makes this section of the CV unique in that sense.

Include:

  • Name of interest/hobby
  • Brief explanation of participation

2. Professional Memberships

Include any memberships to professional associations that can highlight your continual interest in medicine.

Include:

  • Name of association

3. Languages

If you possess reading, writing and or verbal skills in additional languages, include them in this section as a way to show you are a unique candidate.

Include:

  • Language
  • Level of skills in appropriate categories

4. Leadership Experiences

Any founding roles or formal leadership training can be included here to strengthen your CV. In addition, participation in student organizations, projects or even experiences abroad can be included if they can demonstrate your commitment.

Include:

  • Organization, institution or training
  • Dates involved
  • Relevant skills and your accomplishments

Residency CV Example #1

Christine Wing

123 Wilma Avenue, California, USA 1234567

(647)1234567, [email protected]

Education

2010-2015 Master of Medical Science, Fujian Medical University, China

2005-2009 Bachelor of Clinical Medicine, Fujian Medical University, China

Clinical Experience

Clinical Research Coordinator 

California Health Sciences Centre, California, USA, February 2013-January 2015

  • Supported staff physicians in the Critical Care Department by successfully coordinating more than 20 clinical trials.
  • Identified and enrolled patients in clinical trials.
  • Assisted with project design, case report forms, grant applications, revenue tracking, and management.

Physician Assistant - Endocrinologist 

Fujian Provincial Hospital, Fuzhou, China, July 2011-June 2012

  • Oversaw and standardized diabetes education program conducted by registered nurses and dieticians.
  •  Improved quality control by organizing weekly learning sessions for diabetes educators.
  • Coordinated the logistics for a group of clinicians to provide monthly consults to the local population in a remote area of the Fujian province.

Diabetes Physician Assistant/Clinical Research Coordinator 

UCLA Endocrine Center, California, USA, April 2008-June 2011

  • Performed all realms of patient care, including the assessment of new diabetic patients and formulated treatment plans under the direction of supervising physicians.
  • Educated patients on diet, exercise, insulin starts, adjustments and insulin pumps.
  • Created Chinese versions of diabetes education documents to enhance the care of diabetic Chinese patients with insufficient English abilities.

Research Experience

Summer Research Student

California Heart Centre, May 2005- September 2006

  • Collected data through electronic patient records to update research database and reviewed relevant research literature
  • Collaborated with other researchers leading to publication and conference presentation
  • Research projects working towards publication include studying the impact of trastuzumab interruption on patient outcomes and cardiotoxicity risk prediction

Project Lead 

Fujian Medical University, Fuzhou, China September 2002-July 2005

  • Compared the different gene expressions of kidney tissue between type 2 diabetic rats and normal rats, while exploring the pathogenesis of diabetic nephropathy.
  • Established animal models.
  • Isolated and purified mRNA, prepared probes and performed hybridization.

Volunteer Experience

Speaker of Heath Education Session 

CareNow Senior Community Center, June 2015-March 2016

  • Educate seniors about common diseases in geriatric medicine.
  • Inform healthy lifestyles.
  • Orient seniors to the Canadian healthcare system and the resources available to them.

 Call Volunteer

California and District Distress Centre, January 2014-April 2015

  • Responded to the Distress line, Seniors Helpline, and Crisis Response Line
  • Provided support, stress management, crisis intervention through active listening and effective communication

Family Room Volunteer 

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles – September 2011-October 2013

  • Assisted and provided support to family members who have children admitted
  • Cleaned and maintained the facilities for family members to rest, shower, and use the kitchen

Speaker of Community Outreach Program 

American Diabetes Association May 2008-April 2011

  • Lectured for a group of Chinese speaking individuals in a local pharmacy.
  • Educated people on diet, exercise, and the basics of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Coordinator

US Public Health Service, June 2009-October 2009

  • Organized Diabetes and Immigrant in US project 
  • Conducted survey for diabetes patients

Publications

Wing, C., Lin, L., & Chen, G. (April 2005). The Expression of Oxidative Stress-Related Genes in Liver Tissue of Type 2 Diabetic Mice. Strait Journal of Preventative Medicine,11, 3-5.

Languages

  • Fluent, English
  • Fluent, Mandarin
  • Fluent, Cantonese

Hobbies

Miruthangam (Indian Percussion Instrument)

  • Trained professionally since June 2007
  • Received awards and performed at various venues (temples, theatre, and halls)
  • Taught theoretical and practical concepts to students

Piano

  • Attended piano lessons until 2016 for 9 years
  • Played in recitals and attained Grade 8 Royal Conservatory of Music level

Professional Memberships

  • Society of General Internal Medicine
  • American Medical Association
  • California Medical Association

Residency CV Example #2

Residency CV Example #3


FAQs

1. What is the purpose of a residency CV?

The purpose of a residency CV is to highlight your experiences that are relevant to your training in the specialty you’re applying to. This document should summarize these experiences in a succinct, comprehensible manner.

2. What is something I should avoid when crafting my CV?

You should avoid making grammar mistakes, not proofreading, making it too long or too short, or lying.

3. Is there a specific template you have to use to create the CV?

There is not one specific template you must use, but the examples we provided demonstrate a standard, acceptable format for a residency CV. You can always organize yours in a different way as long as you adhere to the basic style guide.

4. Should I list all my extracurricular activities?

You certainly can, but you should prioritize the ones that are most relevant to your medical training and prospective residency specialization.

5. How should I format my clinical experiences?

You should include the city, state (or province), organization or institution name, position title, dates, and a summary that includes the setting, patient population, and clinical issues you dealt with.

6. Do I have to include hobbies and interests?

This isn’t a requirement, but think of it this way: this section is an opportunity to show the program director who you are as a person. This is valuable information for the team reviewing your application.

7. What is the best way to format work history?

For work history, your best bet is to list your most recent experiences first, so chronologically. This will allow you to write a clear summary of the experiences with a timeline.

8. What is considered too short or too long for a residency CV?

Ideally, your residency CV should be 3−5 pages in length. If it is below or above, this may be an indication that you should add/subtract information.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting


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