Photo by the Italian voiceWith medical jobs becoming increasingly competitive it is essential that you nail your medical CV. Make a difference, stand out and sell yourself, says Charlotte Hudson.
Even though it is becoming increasingly out of fashion to request a CV from a doctor during recruitment, some trusts still use a curriculum vitae (CV) to shortlist candidates or at interview stage, and indeed, for many GP posts.
Matt Green from BPP University College School of Health says: “The person who is shortlisting candidates for interview will have on average only two minutes to review your CV in the first instance to determine whether your application should be considered further. Therefore, when preparing your CV you should strive to be relevant, clear and concise.”1
Matt’s three top tips for a medical CV are:
Split your CV into different section headings – by separating your experience and achievements into a logical order of headings, it makes the life of those cross referencing your information with the person specification, a great deal easier. Follow a layout of education and professional qualifications, clinical experience, non-clinical skills, extra-curricular and finally referees.
Avoid solid blocks of text – it is far better to present your information in a given section as bullet points rather than paragraph after paragraph of solid text as this can be very off putting and daunting to the reader. The aim of a good CV is to make your experience and achievements jump off the page.
Tailor your CV to the position – before submitting your CV, as part of a particular application or invitation to interview, cross reference your information with the person specification to ensure you cover any salient requirements – for example, if the job specification focuses on leadership and management experience, ensure this section appears towards the beginning of your CV.
Getting your medical CV right is really important – it is the one document where you can include detailed information about yourself and what you have to offer your prospective employer.
C2, part of The Careers Group, University of London, have also offered these top tips:
DO use clear headings and structure and arrange them in a way that makes it easy for the reader to find the evidence they are looking for (eg, audit, teaching, management, research).
DON’T just provide a list of jobs – convince the reader that you are safe and reliable, by providing details of what the role involves, your responsibilities, skills developed and the clinical experience that you gained.
DO include achievements, but give some consideration to what you want to include. What inferences do you or don’t you want the reader to make about you? What value does the information add to your CV?
If you are an MPS member, we offer all hospital doctors in training a free copy of the Definitive Guide to Specialty Training Application Forms and CVs by Medical Communication Skills Ltd.
Writers at Medical Educator have watched the news coverage with interest of this introduction of a 48 hour working week.* The asterisk is an important one. For example, junior doctors will still be working more than 48 hours in one week (it’s an averaged figure over several weeks), and it doesn’t do much to inspire non medical readers!
Listening to BBC reports of the introduction will lead to “serious accusations” being made by junior doctors that they were essentially instructed to falsify monitoring data. True? It remains an indisputable fact that hospital trusts continue to practice inappropriate monitoring practices which fall short of the accepted published standards. A quick poll of junior doctors shows that 0 of our sample of 10 understood the monitoring basics (how hospitals should practice the process of monitoring), however 9 out of 10 knew it was a contractual obligation! We suspect that is because of the keenness of monitoring bodies to point this out to us. One junior doctor recounts his own experiences of monitoring to us:
The trust essentially conducted the monitoring without due warning. The results were not disseminated in the required way. The management was reluctant to allow the process of monitoring to be transparent. Junior Doctors who should not have been monitored as working the full shift rota actively colluded to distort the monitoring figures. Annual leave and holidays were not properly accounted for. Legal action via the BMA was threatened.
Another told us the following
Only until an employment tribunal was threatened by the junior doctor representatives did the trust acknowledge that the rota was not compliant. It was not an argument over break times, rest, sleep patterns or any other caveats. It was simply that the number of hours was outside of the banding which we were being paid (and not by a small amount). The trust went to the extent of claiming typographical errors on the published rota.
On balance the hospitals have a very difficult job in managing rotas: no one doubts that the overall interest remains patient care despite all the potential wrangling. That said, the new cohort of junior doctors starting work in the UK and the European Union will not just be struggling with acute pulmonary oedema in the early hours, they will be grappling with complicated employment and payment issues that has dogged the training of juniors over the past decade.
We call for a no nonsense guide to the hours that doctors can work in the EU, and that all rotas distributed to juniors should include average hours worked per week, and a clear breakdown of how the rota has been applied to the British banding system. We’d be interested to hear the views of students and qualified doctors here about how their new jobs shape up over the coming weeks, and months. We’re particularly interested to hear how interns from the US, Canada and Australia cope with working patterns, and doctors from India and Pakistan on how they contrast their own working conditions with those described here.
Please do not name organisations or individuals, for legal reasons we will not publish such comments.
Links to National organisations representing junior doctors and students below.
Thanks for talking to us Joel. We came across you via the social networking site Twitter. As a UK based doctor, its always nice to chat to students from across the pond. Tell us a bit about yourself and your medical training.
Joel Adler, Studying at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, USA, Founded in 1848 (which is significantly before www.medicaleducator.co.uk!
First of all, thanks for asking me to do this. Born and raised in Wisconsin, I earned my undergraduate degree in Spanish from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I’m presently a third-year medical student at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. I spent a year between second and third year on a research fellowship from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. I studied novel therapeutics for neuroendocrine tumors and clinical outcomes of surgical management of endocrine disease. After I graduate next May, I plan to pursue residency training in general surgery with fellowship training in either surgical oncology or transplant surgery.
As you know we’re a British website, run by British doctors but we feel our information is relevant to medical students from across the world. Do you know of any specific differences between medical training in the US and the UK?
As I understand it, the main difference is in the way we split our training. In the US, we do a separate degree (often at a different institution) before enrolling in medical school. The undergraduate degree can be of any course of study, as long as specific pre-medical requirements (biology, chemistry, physics, etc.) are fulfilled. As I mentioned earlier, mine was Spanish. Medical school is four years in length, with optional extensions for other degrees (MPH, PhD) or experiences. But as far as the overall training of medical school, I’m not aware of any large differences.
Medical students in England have very limited professional responsibility and remain heavily supervised at all times (for example, they do not see patients unless they have been first reviewed by an attending doctor. Is this the same in the US?
We’re supervised all the way through. Most medical schools follow a traditional format: the first two years are classroom instruction with sporadic clinical experience, and the final two years are clinically based with less formal classroom instruction. In the final two years, most supervision is performed by resident physicians. Responsibility increases with time, but we are certainly supervised at all times. There’s usually no requirement for signoff before seeing patients, but we are typically observed in our interactions and signed off at that time.
Do you get many opportunities to do practical procedures? If so, what sort of things do medical students in general have the opportunity to do?
Procedures are certainly possible, and are dependent upon the clinical clerkship. Most students have a fair deal of experience in delivering babies, suturing, starting IVs, intubating, and drawing blood. Other more advanced procedures typically come in the fourth year once we have chosen our specialties and spend time working in those specific areas.
In the UK we focus heavily on observed clinical history taking and examination for many of the assessments. Is that something you identify with? And are you familiar with the term OSCE?
Absolutely. The emphasis on this varies between schools, but the majority of school will do some OSCE testing in the first two years in order to prepare for the third year. During the third year, grading is a mix of clinical performance, a written exam, and OSCE-style testing. The emphasis is typically much more heavy on observed clinical day-to-day work, and the OSCE serves as a final exam to ensure that you are competent in areas that weren’t observed. For example, I’m currently rotating on an inpatient medicine service that is very heavy on GI and hepatic disease. During the OSCE, I suspect I’ll have some stations involving either pulmonary or cardiac disease. They seem to be good ways to assess skills, but they tend to be rather artificial situations.
Many UK based medical students wont have heard of the USMLE. What are your views on it as a standard across the US? (in the UK each medical school sets its own exam standards).
As far as a standardized exam, I feel it’s fine. Nobody looks forward to taking them, but many schools provide adequate support and guidance to prepare for the test. The scores are typically used by residency programs when considering applicants, and all parts of the USMLE must be passed before a full medical license is granted. It’s nice to have standard exams to make sure that we’re all covering similar material.
The USMLE comes in three “steps”. Step 1 focuses on pre-clinical knowledge (basic science, pathophysiology, basic treatment and diagnosis) and is usually taken between the second and third years of school. Step 2 is actually two parts: clinical skills (a day-long OSCE-style examination) and clinical knowledge (a day-long written examination on clinical decision making). That is usually taken during the fourth year. And finally, before a medical license is granted, Step 3 is taken during early residency. It focuses on advanced clinical skills and decision-making.
Joel, we’d like to say a big thanks for taking part in our interview. Its great to hear things first hand from an American student. Finally is there anything that you like to use as a US student that we might not be so familiar with over here in the UK?
I’ll share some of the things I use often for studying and caring for patients. I use my iPhone constantly, usually for Epocrates and the Johns Hopkins Antibiotic Guide. I also like MedCalc. On the computer, I love using Evernote to keep track of things to study – I can just open up the program on my phone and studying during downtime. I use Papers (Mac only) to keep my PDFs of articles organized.
Thanks again for your time Joel, and good luck in the forthcoming OSCEs, exams and that USMLE!
Berci, Hungarian medical student and Web 2.0 Entrepreneur
Berci Meskó is a Hungarian medical student, and a leading innovator when it comes to the web 2.0 and using new healthcare technologies. His medical blog is one of the most popular on the internet from a medical student. Here he is interviewed by one of the Medical Educator team.
Hi Berci, you’re a busy man, so thanks for doing the interview. We made your acquaintance socially on Twitter, and over the following few months have been quite amazed about the impact of your blogs Scienceroll and Webicinia. It’s fair to say they have received cult status in the healthcare community, and on Twitter.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself, your journey through medical training and how you got interested in the web?
James, thank you for the great opportunity! I’m a sixth year medical student in Hungary which means I will graduate this August. Then I plan to start PhD training in personalized genetics. So I should say health 2.0 is only my hobby, but it’s actually much more than that. From morning to the afternoon, I do a clinical rotation as this is what our 6th year is about. In the afternoon, I do research in a local prestigious lab and I live the rest of my life at night!
I started Scienceroll.com in November, 2006. It will reach the one million page-view milestone soon and has won 3 blog awards. Then I launched a Hungarian medical blog, and in October 2008 I founded Webicina.com, the first medical web guidance system. I believe e-patients and doctors need guidance online as we’re not really ready for the medicine 2.0 world. I try to help doctors by developing the easiest medical information tracking tool for them for free (PeRSSonalized Medicine), and I try to help patients with also free web 2.0 guidance packages focusing on medical conditions.The first one will focus on diabetes and will be published in a week.
Scienceroll, a leading medical blog founded by Berci
Tell us a bit about Scienceroll, what it is and how you got it started.
I started Scienceroll because I wanted to share and comment interesting medical and genetics-related news. Later it became a channel for my thoughts and projects. I cover two major topics there: personalized genetics and ‘medicine’ or ‘health 2.0‘. I was lucky to get numerous opportunities through my blog: to give a slide-show at Yale, School of Medicine, the Medicine Meets Virtual Reality conference, the Medicine 2.0 Congress at the WHO.
You’re still a medical student. Does any of this get in the way of your studies, or medical exams?
Berci has a popular Twitter page
Never! Even if my blog means a lot to me, my medical studies stand in the first position. Anyway, when I have to prepare for exams, it’s good to have a blog as I can have a rest while writing the posts after hours of hard work with my books. And I can ask medical questions in the Twitter community, health ‘tweople’ always help me. So you can find people around the world, medical students, who have the same problems and who can help you in your studies.
We understand most of your readers are in the USA, predominantly California, which is leading web development. Have you received any recognition from your own University about what you do?
I don’t think any of my professors would know what I’m working on. And that’s primarily a very good thing. I don’t want my online job/life to be an advantage or disadvantage in exams.
But after months of hard work and preparation, I could launch the first credit course focusing on medicine 2.0 at my university and I’m about to relaunch the course in English next week. So that is a great opportunity and I hope we can persuade professors to include it in the official medical curriculum so it could be the first medical university to cover such topics officially.
Would you recommend other medical students to get involved with blogs, and the web 2.0 as it stands?
Of course, and I tried to persuade students attending my course to start blogging as it can help them build an online reputation and can lead to unbelievable opportunities. I’m not saying all students should have a blog, but those who would like to build a successful online presence, a blog can be a perfect channel.
If students want to attend virtual courses, Second Life is ready for them. If they want to work together online, they can use Google Docs or a public wiki. If they need information, Wikipedia is a great first resource (but should never be the one you end your research with). There are many ways students can use the tools and services of web 2.0.
We were pleased to be in contact with you, I guess you must have made some other useful acquaintances through the web. I’ve enjoyed reading your interviews with other doctors. Can you tell us about a memorable interview?
I think the best interview you can do is with the doctor you consider your mentor. So I loved talking with Ves Dimov at Clinical Cases and Images because he was the one who got me into this health 2.0 field. He’s been very helpful and nice since even before I wrote my first post. And it felt really good to talk with Jay Parkinson, Steve Murphy or Dietrich Stephan.
Thanks Berci, good to talk to you and its an impressive, and inspiring story. We look forward to hearing great things about you in the future.
Medical Educator would like to thank Berci for the interview. Read more form Berci at Scienceroll and Webicinia.