Medical CVs and portfolios
At some stage during your medical training you may need a CV. This document is your personal record of achievements, experiences, skills and knowledge. It is designed to convince a recruiter that you are the right person for the job.
When will you need a CV?
Your CV may be used at any point in your medical career. Often medical students require a CV when applying for an elective placement in their final year.
You will not normally need a CV to apply for the standard Foundation Programme. However, the Foundation School or trust to which you are subsequently appointed may wish to see your CV after the UK Foundation Programme Office (UK FPO) recruitment and selection process. If you are applying to the Academic Foundation programme, you may also need a CV.
Later on in your career, most specialties will require you to attend interviews with a portfolio of evidence, and your CV will most likely be the first document within your portfolio.
Starting a CV
A good CV is one that is targeted to the opportunity on offer, rather than simply a list of 'stuff'. Think of it as an advert selling you. Depending on what you are applying for, you may have several different versions of your CV.
Before writing anything down, it is important to think about how you are going to evidence that you match the criteria in the person specification.
Analyse the opportunity
Analyse the opportunity and identify exactly what experience and skills are required. This can be achieved by reading the person specification or advert.
Often person specifications are split into essential and desirable criteria. In order to be considered for the next round of recruitment you must provide evidence for the essential criteria.
Analyse yourself and see where your achievements, experience and skills match those of the person specification. Think broadly about all the things you’ve done including:
- academic study
- clinical experience
- previous work experience or employment
- voluntary work
- interests and achievements outside medicine
What should be included in your CV?
There is not a 'one size fits all' way of writing a CV and how you choose to present the information is down to you and the position to which you are applying.
Usually a CV at this stage in your career would be two sides of A4, however this is not fixed in stone and depends on how much evidence you have to include. As you progress in your career as a doctor it is not uncommon to see four or five page CVs.
The key thing is to ensure that the information is relevant to the position to which you are applying.
Usually these are at the top of the page. You should include your name, address, contact phone number and email address. You may need to include your GMC and MDU numbers.
Date of birth, marital status, health status and nationality will not be needed if applying for positions in the UK.
Requirements may be different if applying for positions overseas. Passport Career is an online resource giving information about applying for positions overseas. Login to Workspace using your University username and password.
Education and qualifications
This is an opportunity to highlight key achievements from your medical degree (and your BMedSci or previous degree). Don't just the list the modules you have taken, but highlight relevant projects or pieces of work, prizes and other academic achievements.
As you progress through your medical career, A levels and GCSEs (or equivalent) become less relevant and you could leave them off your CV. For example, pre-university qualifications are not mentioned in any person specification for Specialty Training.
Focus on your relevant experiences rather than listing every clinical placement you’ve done. If you have done your elective, include that in this section. Include a couple of bullet points for each placement to highlight the knowledge, skills and experience you developed.
You may wish to include information about non-clinical work experience in a separate section.
Additional skills and achievements
This could include prizes, IT skills, languages spoken etc. Think about why the employer would be interested in knowing these things rather than listing for the sake of writing something.
It is good to draw on your experiences outside of your medical degree. Don't be bland and list hobbies that don't say anything particularly interesting. "Socialising with friends, reading or going to the cinema" or similar may not add anything of value.
Person specifications for Specialty Training posts mention achievements outside of medicine and extracurricular activities from university such as involvement in clubs or societies. Include this information with details of your involvement and the skills and qualities you have demonstrated.
You may wish to include contact details of two referees, alternatively you can write “References available on request”.
There is an argument that this section is redundant as employers will only contact referees after the shortlist has been drawn up and successful candidates have been contacted.
Other sections you might include
Personal profile or career objective
A personal profile can act as an introduction to you and what you have to offer. It is important to tailor this to the role you are applying to. Alternatively, you could use it to explain your career interests. This would appear at the beginning of your CV (below your personal details) and should be two or three lines in length.
Previous non-medical work experience or voluntary work
You may include a few bullet points about your main responsibilities or simply list dates, job titles and organisation. If you are a GEM student, you may have significant previous experience and this is likely to feature more strongly in your CV. Pull out the transferable skills you have gained.
Positions of responsibility
For example being a committee member of a society, volunteer or event organiser.
Teaching and audit experience
This might be included in future versions of your CV. When giving your examples make sure to include the outcomes as well as what you did.
Research experience, presentations and posters
This might be included in future versions of your CV. List publications, case reports and conference presentations.
Additional relevant courses
For example, Advanced Life Support
Your application portfolio is a collection of evidence used throughout your career to demonstrate your commitment to continual professional development. It is a physical piece of evidence that may contain your CV, a personal and professional development plan, reflective reports, interesting cases and certificates.
It is important not to get this confused with your Foundation Training e-Portfolio. While you may use some of the content as examples in your future applications, your e-Portfolio is an electronic tool designed to help you reflect on your progress during your F1 and F2 years and to demonstrate you have gained the competencies expected during Foundation training.
Your application portfolio will be a key requirement for many specialty training posts, so it is important to get into the habit of collecting examples and spending time writing reflectively about your experiences throughout your training.
Further on in your career in medicine your portfolio will be used to ensure you are meeting the required competencies for revalidation with the GMC and regular appraisals.
From an alumnus' perspective
James Offer, Nottingham alumnus, explains what you should include in your application portfolio providing examples from his own experience. James also provides his top tips on getting your portfolio together.
How to structure your portfolio
Not all specialties require a portfolio (General Practice for instance) but for those that do it is important to check if they have guidelines on how to structure your evidence.
All portfolios should include a contents section in order to make it easy for the interviewer to see your relevant evidence. You should invest in a solid ring binder, plastic wallets and folder dividers to help make your portfolio easy to navigate.
The BMJ have a useful structure guide called Creating a good portfolio.
What to include in your portfolio
The actual evidence you use in your portfolio will vary from specialty to specialty and it is important that you undertake careful research when it comes to applying to specialty training.
The Specialty Training Applicants' Handbook gives the following as examples of relevant evidence:
- Trainers’ reports
- Log book of clinical activity
- Written workplace assessments
You may also include:
- certificates of course attendance
- copies of teaching completed
- feedback from teaching sessions
- copies of your publications
- slides from presentations you have delivered
These are just some examples and should not be taken as an exhaustive list. Many specialties openly publish information so you should check for any specific guidance from the specialty or specialties to which you are applying.
Whatever you choose to include in your portfolio as evidence, it is important not to include any patient identifiable data or items/information that are not yours (e.g. someone else’s work or hospital guidelines).
Explore more...CVs and portfolios
British Medical Association - CVs
British Medical Journal - CVs
Health Careers - Specialty Training CV
Health Careers - e-portfolios