Career Planning Advice
A Curriculum Vitae (CV) is an organized, succinct summary of your education, awards, research experience including presentations and publications, work and extracurricular experience applicable to medicine, professional memberships, and languages spoken.
While the electronic residency application agencies create a CV-type document from the information you submit, having a paper-based CV is useful for:
Providing background information to your referees will help them to write a stronger letter on your behalf
Submitting to individual residency programs that specifically request it (many CaRMS programs do request a separate CV in addition to the electronic CaRMS application – see individual program descriptions)
Where Do I Start?
As a starting point, you have the CV used when you applied to the medical program. Don't let the course of accomplishments pile up too long before updating your document. During your career, you will have to update your CV periodically, even when you are busier.
Collect supporting documents and file them in a storage box or portfolio according to the categories of your resume. These may include letters confirming scholarships or awards, copies of abstracts, articles or evaluations of educational activities, for example.
Start by listing everything that you think could be included in your CV. Keep and update this copy of your comprehensive CV so you can make contextualized, edited versions for specific purposes.
Use reverse chronological order (most recent entries first) so that the reader immediately knows what you are doing now.
Use point form preferably with succinct, concise language. Use bullets or other visual markers only sparingly.
What Are the Quality Criteria of a CV?
The CV tells others who you are and what you have done, and by extension suggests what you can offer an employer.
The elements examined when reviewing CVs are:
- The contents are well-spaced out, not too cramped (a block of gray text is harder to read), using enough white space to rest the eye.
- The texts are nicely aligned.
- The contents of the sections are on the same page. I.e. The title is not at the bottom of a page and the contents at the top of the next page.
- Simplicity is preferred so that the size, font and bullet points are consistent reducing distractions and promoting a focus on the information being communicated.
- The style is consistent throughout and therefore the uses of bold, and italics are reserved for the same information: what, where, when, and how.
- The presentation of information follows the same order in each section.
- The consistent verb tense: you can go with present tense for ongoing activities and past tense for finished activities.
- Reverse chronological order is best.
- Overlaps are possible as long as more recent events are at the top of the section.
- The chosen sections are reasonably distinct.
- Content can be grouped to demonstrate skills you want to highlight such as leadership, research, teaching, and community engagement.
Level of Detail
- Descriptions should be long enough to help the reader understand what you have done and why it is important.
- The golden rule applies, that is, details are more accepted when they are recent, relevant or serve to demonstrate responsibility.
- Spelling, grammar and verb tense errors can affect the quality of the document.
- Correction software is beneficial.
- The CV should be reviewed before being used by a professional.
Note on pre-made electronic CV templates: Many templates available with today's word processing applications use a table-based structure. Although these can be beautiful, they are sometimes difficult to work with. For example, you might have trouble changing the margins to maximize spacing, or rearranging the information into categories might be a lot of work. Use a table-less template with basic tab functions to justify margins and column widths, ensuring you can easily adjust and modify your CV at will. Note that it is possible to convert table contents to text with the Table Tools in the Layout tab.
Is There an Example of How it Could Look?
This section below includes examples of sections you can use if they apply to you. These are simply suggestions, and you can change, add, or omit sections so that your CV best reflects your accomplishments and qualities.
Use your name as the header, not “Curriculum Vitae”. Underneath your name, include your contact information. A street address is optional; some people prefer to use online contact information instead. You can repeat the name and telephone number in the header of subsequent pages to make it easier to assemble the printed documents for the candidacy study.
1111, Long Road, Montréal, QC, H4G 1K4
firstname.lastname [at] mail.mcgill.ca
Protect your identity! A social insurance number has no place on a CV, nor does your marital status, bank account number, or shoe size. Some candidates opt for the option of adding a quality photo presenting a professional style.
List all post-secondary programs you have taken and those you are currently taking. Specify the title of the program or diploma, the name of the educational institution, its location, and the year of graduation.
If the diploma is incomplete, specify the year of the beginning and end of the studies, including details of the major or minor and the distinctions obtained without however mentioning your grade point average.
If you are a Med-P student, include CEGEP or College, the pre-medical year, and the M.D., C.M. program as separate entries.
M.D., C.M., McGill University, Montréal (MTL), QC
Dean’s Honour List
Med-P, McGill University, MTL, QC
Health Sciences College Diploma, Dawson, MTL, QC
You will include this section for reference letter purposes and residency applications purposes, but it will be removed when you want to use your CV for more academic purposes later. List all electives you have completed and those you plan to do and when determined, you can add names of supervisors.
Neurology, Montreal General Hospital, QC
Intensive Care Unit, Toronto Western Hospital, ON
Cardiology, Royal Alexandra Hospital, Edmonton, AB
Palliative Care, Royal Victoria Hospital, MTL, QC
Women’s Health and Pediatrics, Ghana, Africa
(2 sem.) Mars 2021
(4 sem.) Déc. 2020
(2 sem.) Nov. 2020
(2 sem.) Oct. 2020
(2 sem.) Jan. 2019
If you are applying to the USA, indicate your USMLE exam scores in Step 1 and Step 2, if applicable. Several certifications can be mentioned to make you stand out, here are some examples.
USMLE Step 1:231/95
CPoCUS Praticien indépendant (PI),
Basic Life Support (BLS),
Wilderness First Aid Courses,
Certified in Psychological First Aid,
(16 hours) 2022
(12 hours) 2022
Some of you may have held an academic position before applying to medicine; if this applies to you then you should include this section. If not, move on to the next.
Go as far back as CEGEP (if MedP) or undergrad (if not MedP) unless you received an award which is outstanding and unique in your earlier life. Always list in reverse order.
Best performance and professionalism | Obstétrics,
J. W. McConnell Award, McGill University, MTL, QC
Dean's List of honour | Health Sciences,
ResearchWhether it is to promote various research activities or participate in scientific meetings, presentations and publications, it is possible to integrate everything into your CV. Always use descending chronological order.
- Research Activities: This is where you list all the projects you have been and are involved in, even if they didn’t result in presentation/publication.
- Presentations: Include here any presentations that you were invited to do outside of the regular medical curriculum; avoid including presentations that you had to do as an expected aspect of any rotation.
- Publications: Include here any published articles for which you are one of the authors that appear or have been accepted to appear in reputable publications. You may also choose to include papers that have been submitted for consideration; instead of citation information, you would include a notation of the journal/forum to which the article has been submitted.
Protein Trafficking in Stressed Cells
Lesion Load in Tuberous Sclerosis
Teaching-related activities can demonstrate academic leadership and elevate your candidacy. If you have more than one experience you can create a section as shown in the example. Always use descending chronological order.
Anatomy 001 Laboratory Demonstrator,
Teaching Assistant, Course title,
Several activities can be grouped by subtitles or simply under a common set. If you have taken part in many activities, group them so that the reader can find them easily. Even if you did not have a formal title in the role occupied, name a representative title of your functions to associate with it the tasks or role that you accomplished. You can also incorporate experience related to medicine. Always use descending chronological order.
UNIVERSITY, COMMUNITY AND SPORTS COMMITMENTS
Volunteer Blood Drive Organizer,
Emergency Department Volunteer,
Although optional, the brief sharing of interests and hobbies can serve to communicate personal aspects. Mentions are intended to influence the reader or validate perceptions of you. This information is particularly useful when soliciting letters of recommendation. List the different things you do and depending on the situation, dates may be superfluous.
Sports: Running, hiking, kayaking
Mention all the languages you speak. If there are other languages that you are only able to read or speak, write them on other lines, indicating your level of proficiency in the languages in question. It is not necessary to specify dates in this section.
Bilingualism: English and French (Fluent oral and written)
Can Someone Review My CV?
Career Advisors at the WELL Office can review the CVs of McGill medical students upon request. This service is highly recommended. Send your draft CV by email to the attention of the career advisor as soon as possible and before your fourth year.
Please remember that at peak times of year (October-November), turnaround can take up to one week.