Student Doctors Preparing for Residency CV & Personal Statement

CV & Personal Statement

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Creating a memorable first impression

To land the residency match of your dreams, you’ll need a memorable and impactful CV and personal statement. Here’s how to get started.

Your curriculum vitae (CV) and personal statement can tell a residency admission committee member a lot about you. This is your chance to highlight the unique skills and attributes that set you apart from other candidates. Check out these helpful tips to take your CV and personal statement to the next level.

Crafting a CV

Unlike a resume, which is typically capped at 1-2 pages, your CV can be as long as needed. Include your name and contact info at the top of the first page and be sure to spellcheck and proofread your CV thoroughly.

The Student Osteopathic Medical Association (SOMA) recommends starting your CV early in your med school career and keeping the 5 C’s top of mind: Your CV should be clear, concise, complete, consistent and current. Here are SOMA’s suggestions for getting started:

  • First, choose a resume template.
  • Create sections for topics like education, health care experience, leadership, research, certifications, awards or recognition you’ve received, volunteer work, professional memberships, and language fluency. Avoid acronyms.
  • Organize your CV in reverse chronological order, using action verbs to lead off each description. Start with the most impressive aspect of each role or activity.
  • Be sure not to include your birthday, race, social security number, political or religious views, or marital status.
  • Once you’ve completed your CV, ask your adviser and at least one other person to look it over and provide feedback.

Personal Statement

Think of your personal statement as a movie trailer. How can you craft your story so it grabs readers’ attention, sells your skills and lands you interviews at your top-choice programs? Here’s what experts recommend:

  • Start working on your personal statement early. If you can, ask several resident physicians and attending physicians to review it and offer comments.
  • Don’t try to tell your entire story in your personal statement. Instead, focus on what makes you a one-of-a-kind candidate and how your unique experiences will help you succeed in the residency programs you’re pursuing. At interviews, you can introduce yourself in greater detail.
  • Each anecdote should show you becoming a better, stronger or more compassionate clinician, even if you’re discussing a difficult experience. If you can’t find a positive angle, you’re better off omitting the story. Try to show off the qualities that will make you an asset to your program, like curiosity, humility, eagerness to learn and being a team player.
  • Just like with your CV, be careful not to exaggerate or overstate your roles and experience.

For more suggestions, check out The DO’s tips on writing a winning personal statement.

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