Curriculum Vitae Overview

Your CV introduces you to potential emergency medicine employers. A well-written, thoughtfully composed CV implies a professional who cares about this or her work. On the other hand, a grammatically incorrect, poorly written CV implies that an individual does not pay attention to detail. It is exceedingly helpful to have an outstanding personal recommendation from an individual whose opinion the individual(s) making the hiring decision respects. However, not everyone has this luxury, so your CV serves as your presentation to the individual(s) responsible for hiring. Even when there is a personal communication, a CV will still be expected. Therefore, it should represent you in the best possible manner, emphasizing your strengths while being accurate and truthful.

- Excerpt from EMRA's Career Planning Guide by Gus Garmel, MD, FACEP

Writing Your CV

By Dena L'Heureux, MS3, University of Arizona College of Medicine, EMRA Medical Student Council
Reviewed by Joshua Moskovitz, MPH, MS4, University at Buffalo School of Medicine, Chair of EMRA's Medical Student Council

To many, writing your CV is a chore as unwelcome as doing your taxes. The key is to get started early and update as you go along.

Microsoft Word has a good template to begin, with categories such as "Education", and "Professional Experiences". Consider adding "Volunteer Experiences", "Awards", "Research", "Publications", "Presentations", "Teaching Experiences", "Leadership Positions", etc. as necessary. Categories of interest to consider including are "Professional Societies" and "Certifications" if they apply or you think may be helpful.

You want to have a CV that is reasonably up-to-date at all times. When it comes time for asking for letters of recommendation, whether for a summer position or for residency, you'll want to give the letter writer a copy of your CV. If you don't have time to update your CV every couple of months, make sure to jot down notes on recent accomplishments from time to time. Otherwise you may forget some short, but important, contributions to your career.

Take a look at "Iserson's Getting into a Residency" for some examples, and don't forget to have friends, family, or even your mentor do a quick once over. It's embarrassing and can be very detrimental to have typos, spelling, and grammatical errors.

Finally, pay attention to font size and paper quality. You want nothing smaller than a size 10 font and a thick paper in some shade of white. Now's not that time to be bold.

Good luck writing, and don't forget – this is a living document.

The Art of the CV

By Barb Katz, The Katz Company, EMRA Career Opportunity Guide

Your CV is the vehicle with which you make a first impression upon a prospective employer. In a depressed job market like the one facing 2004 grads, a strong CV is the best offense for dealing with the competition. So what makes a CV stand out? I'll give you a hint: it's not the color! I get blue CVs, gray CVs, I even get pink CVs . . . I hate them all! A CV often needs to be faxed or copied. It's difficult to do that if the paper is colored. Your CV should be on white paper. If you insist on asserting your individuality, feel free to go buff!

I receive hundreds of CVs from graduating residents every year and at least half of them throw in the biggest errors right at the top. To begin with, there's the missing MD or DO beside the physician's name. Now, assuming you worked your butt off for a number of years to earn those two letters, why would you leave them off your CV? My favorite is contact information printed in font so small, it requires an electron microscope to read it. Assuming you would actually like someone to contact you, why would you make that activity such a challenge? The font on any portion of your CV should be no smaller than 12 pt. So much for openers!


The first section of your CV should carry the heading Training and Education. Since all information on your CV must be listed chronologically from the most recent backwards, the first listing under this heading is your residency. If you are a Chief Resident, include that in your residency entry. Underneath your residency program, list your internship, then Medical School, followed by undergraduate education. Show both beginning and ending dates (7/01 to 6/04) on all entries, placing the dates separately to the left side. Make sure to provide both city and state information for every institution. Don't assume everyone knows where Harvard is.


Any paid work experience comes in the next section under the heading Professional Experience. Once again, always work from the most recent backwards and provide location information. If you have non-medical work experience that took place between your undergraduate and residency years, and took up a significant amount of time (more than 4 months), you can add another section headed Additional Work Experience. Military service should go under Professional Experience is it was after medical school, and under "Additional" if not. It is important that your CV not have any gaps in time from your undergraduate years to present. Gaps raise red flags and send imaginations racing in wrong directions.


The next section covers Certification and Licensure. Make sure you enter the date you become board eligible in Emergency Medicine (June 2004) and which board you will take (ABEM or ABOEM). List all of your life saving certifications with indication of either provider or instructor status. Dates of achievement are not necessary. List any state licenses you have acquired.

The next heading deals with Research and Publications. List any research that is documented and, if necessary, indicate if the project is on-going, along with the names of all participants. Publications must actually be published! If you have enough entries to warrant it, you can also add another section for Posters and Presentations. Since most graduating residents don't have enough entries for separate headings here, I am a big fan of using a general heading of Professional Activities to include all of the above and any items that may not fit into the standard categories.


Awards and Honors should be listed next and include any achieved from residency back through undergraduate school. If you are a chief resident, that is considered an honor and should be your first entry here. You can also include any civic awards and don't leave out scholarships. Follow that up with a list of your Professional Memberships, which should, of course, be led by your membership in EMRA! Be sure to include any offices you hold in any organization.


No CV is complete without a Personal section and it's the one that's most often missing on graduating resident CVs. This is your opportunity to stand out from the crowd. It's important that you give prospective employers a glimpse of who you are as a person. Indicate your date of birth, place of birth, marital status (adding the name of your spouse can be helpful), and the ages of any children. Then list any strong interests, hobbies and/or sports. I can't tell you how often I have had resident candidates selected for interviews because of an item in the personal section of their CV. You never know what an employer may zoom in on, but they won't zoom in on anything if you don't provide the info!


Most grads ask me how long their CV should be. I don't believe there is a hard and fast rule. The average is 2 pages, but if you've got the meat to fill more, don't leave anything out. It is not necessary to describe your training or detail your rotations, but be sure to include any volunteer medical work. Leave out your scouting badges, but include civic program participation. Use your head - what would impress a Director and what would most consider filler fodder.

Should you have an objective on your CV? Well, to be honest, most employers understand the primary objective of a graduating resident: to get a damn job! Objectives are essentially a limiting factor, and you should only use one if there is a practice element you must have, and will not accept a job without it. For instance, if you will not accept a position that does not allow you to use Ultrasound, or cannot consider a job that doesn't include teaching, then you have appropriate grounds for using an objective. It should be stated simply and go at the top of your CV, above the section headings.

Do not put your references on your CV. Simply place the statement "references available upon request" at the bottom of your CV. Or, if you're feeling particularly cocky, you can say "excellent references . . ." Provide a separate page for your list that includes the name, title, institution and contact information for each reference.

In general, your CV needs to be easy to read, with the most important information easily found. That'll make a great first impression!