With competition for medical posts at an all-time high, it is vital that your Medical CV stands out over those of your fellow applicants. This comprehensive, unique and easy-to-read guide has been written with this in mind to help prospective medical students, current medical students and doctors of all grades prepare a Medical CV of the highest quality. Whether you are applying to medical school, currently completing your medical degree or are a doctor progressing through your career (foundation doctor, specialty trainee in general practice, surgery or medicine, GP career grade or Consultant) this guide includes specific guidance for applicants at every level. This time-saving and detailed publication explains what selection panels are looking for when reviewing applications at all levels, discusses how to structure your Medical CV to ensure you stand out for the right reasons and explores what information to include, and what not to include, in your CV. The book discusses what to consider when maintaining a portfolio at every step of your career, including for revalidation and relicensing purposes. Examples of high quality CVs are included in the book to illustrate the standards which are required. This unique guide shows you how to prepare your CV for every step of your medical career from pre-Medical School right through to Consultant level. This book will be of value to doctors throughout their careers as they strive to ensure they secure their first choice post every time.
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Preparing the Perfect Medical CV
A Comprehensive Guide for Doctors and Medical Students on How to Succeed in Your Chosen Field
By Helen Douglas, Vivek Sivarajan, Matt Green
BPP Learning MediaCopyright © 2012 BPP Learning Media Ltd
All rights reserved.
At this point, you may be asking why a chapter has been set aside to include covering letters, when training applications are usually done online and CVs are brought to interview or emailed to the shortlisters. Whilst this is true, when applying for some jobs it is still advisable to submit a covering letter too. If you are not one of the lucky few who enjoy a seamless run-through training opportunity, you may well think of enhancing your CV with a Research Fellow position, which will improve your research skills and help you learn to produce good quality publications and presentations; or a Clinical Fellow post, to increase your clinical experience at a particular level. These posts, usually advertised through NHS Jobs or BMJ Careers, require the applicant to submit in several ways according to the deanery advertising. If they ask you to submit a CV as part of the application process, it is usually wise to include a covering letter, unless specifically instructed not to. The inclusion of such a letter is traditional and makes your application look professional and mature.
Covering letters can be adapted for any level, and follow a very simple and similar format, therefore there is no need to tailor yours to any specific level of training. Instead just keep it up to date as your career progresses. The covering letter should include your contact details and a short description of your current position, relevant experience and qualifications for the position (check the person specification very carefully for this.) Below are three examples that could be used for different types of applications.CHAPTER 2
Application to Medical School
If you are reading this chapter, then you are considering or have already begun applying for Medical School. In doing so, I am confident that you will already have done sufficient research on the application process and the steps involved. I am also confident that you realise you are embarking on a journey that is long and hard, and may be emotionally, physically and financially challenging. If you are successful in your application and training, this will change your life significantly, as medicine is a vocation and often a lifestyle, not simply a job. The path to becoming a doctor may at times seem frustrating, tiring and endless, however the rewards of an interesting and challenging medical career are abundant.
Why is this book significant to you at this stage of your career? You are not required to submit a CV for Medical School applications, as the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) form requires only a personal statement and references. However, writing a CV that is relevant to your Medical School application is a good idea, because it will give you ideas for your UCAS form, which is split into sections entitled Personal Details, Education, Employment, Additional Information, Personal Statement and References. These can largely be reproduced from the relevant areas of your CV. Also, a well constructed CV will be required if you are applying for placements or jobs related to work experience for Medical School; and if you gain entry to Medical School, you will need a medically oriented CV for the rest of your working life. It will then need constant updating and attention. Therefore there is no better time to start to prepare your medical CV than the present.
The demographic of Medical School applicants has changed significantly in the last few decades, with far more mature students entering medical training than ever before, making 10 to 15% of Medical School intakes per year. Those of you who are mature students, or are applying after a 'gap' year, will probably already have a CV based on your previous careers and experiences, which you will be able to adapt in light of your new career choice. For others of you at school or college, this application may be the first you have ever made. Regardless of your previous experience, it is important to be able to display a keen enthusiasm for and understanding of medical training and the paths to which it will lead.
As I am sure you know, the competition to enter Medical School is daunting, with many more applicants than spaces available. By being eligible to apply for Medical School, you were all probably the highest academic achievers at school or college. At this stage however, practically all of the applicants for Medical School will be the highest achievers at their own schools or colleges from all over the UK and abroad. Hence, the difficulty for applicants is how to 'stand out' from this tremendously high-calibre crowd, of whom the large majority will look very similar on paper. Unfortunately, with the recent trend for more generically styled application forms and structured standardised interviews, this difficulty will probably continue to present itself in all your future applications. The aim, therefore, is to construct your CV in such a way as to present required and relevant information in the clearest and most coherent way. The material that you have available to put on your CV, and indeed your UCAS form, is the result of the hard work you have already done. Below is a 'Preparation' section, which you can use to check that you have made best use of the evidence of that hard work to increase your chances of securing a place at Medical School.
Ask yourself, 'What are the shortlisters looking for in a Medical School applicant?' The answer is very simple. They are looking for someone who will be able to cope with the academic, personal and emotional pressure of four, five or six years at Medical School, and then be able to make the transition to junior doctor successfully. They are trying to pick the candidates who in the short term will not drop out of or fail Medical School, but also those who already possess the desirable characteristics of a doctor.
Some better-known examples of these characteristics include academic ability; an enquiring mind; the ability to deal well with pressure and make decisions; leadership and teamwork qualities; and enthusiasm and aptitude for teaching. Qualities that are often forgotten, or mistakenly left out as 'soft,' are good communication skills, empathy for other people, honesty, trustworthiness and reliability. If you wish to read more about the qualities, duties and standards of a doctor, go to the General Medical Council website (www.gmc-uk.org) and read a document called Good Medical Practice. This document outlines the standards against which all of you who are successful in your quest to become a doctor will measure your practice. Most of these skills will be developed and honed over your years at Medical School, but it is the potential for them that the Medical School applications team are looking to see.
I am a firm believer that you do not have to be excessively clever to get into and get through Medical School. You do have to be hardworking, organised and tenacious. You do have to like people, be able to empathise with patients and have a desire to help them in all aspects of their healthcare. You do have to believe in yourself. And it really helps to have a good support network around you, be that in the form of spouse, parents, siblings or friends. If you can do all of these things, you will not have a problem completing your medical training. All you have to do now is to display to the medical school selection panel why you will be an excellent medical student and even better doctor.
As a Medical School applicant, you must show to the applications team that you understand what will be required of you as a medical student and have taken steps to gain experience and knowledge of the medical field.
For most of you, this will be the accumulation of many years of hard work and preparation to possess the qualifications and experience to be eligible to apply. If you already have a CV, print it out and examine it critically. Is this the summary of a competitive Medical School applicant? If not, then why not? If you have any medical contacts, then approach them and ask if they would mind having a look at your CV to see if there are any areas where you could improve. Below are areas to concentrate on as early as possible before the applications commence to give yourself the best chance of obtaining a place at Medical School.
The qualifications you will require to get into Medical School vary depending on whether you are an A level student, mature applicant or currently reading another degree. The qualifications required also vary between Medical Schools, and the details are available on each Medical School's website – if there are any issues which are unclear, contact the Medical School undergraduate Admissions Tutor for clarification.
At the time of writing, most Medical Schools require A level grades of AAB, one of which must be Chemistry, and some also require Biology. (Equivalent requirements for Scottish Highers or International Baccalaureate are also available on the medical school websites). Mature students are either expected to achieve these A level grades too, or have a first or upper second-class honours degree in a subject that may or may not need to be related to science. For your application to be successful, you must either already have these academic requirements or be predicted to attain them before the start of Medical School. Therefore please be realistic, as there is no point in spending lots of time and effort applying if you are not going to have the grades required for entry. If you think it is likely that you are not going to be predicted to attain the grades you need, firstly ask yourself why, and be honest about whether or not you can do this. If you are at school or college and you have time to rectify the situation by pulling up your coursework grades, speak to your teachers or tutors and ask honestly what evidence or coursework grades they would require before the applications are due to make them believe that you would attain the required grades. They may need you to put in extra effort out-of-hours or re-take modules, but if you do not ask, you will not know.
If you are a mature student, or did not get the grades you wanted the first time around, you can either re-take these examinations through a local college, or consider applying for foundation courses, which take place in a preliminary year before the start of medical training, where the student has to master the basics required for Biology and Chemistry. Be aware however, that these places are limited and it is hard work to cover what are essentially two A levels in one year.
As it is likely that every applicant to Medical School will be predicted the required academic qualifications or indeed already have them, it is vital for you to obtain as many relevant forms of work experience as you can before the application. Organising and completing work experience shows that you have made an effort to work in a caring role, gain experience of a team-related environment and get a feel for how the NHS or its allied organisations work. The school-organised work experience placements that you may have completed are not sufficient; you need to show serious commitment to your Medical School application by putting in extra time, doing extra work to gain extra experience and knowledge that will help you in your future career and show the applications team that you are totally committed to becoming a doctor. This work experience can be paid or voluntary but should be of a decent time period and in a real healthcare environment. Short-duration jobs that may be public-spirited but do not really focus on healthcare, like a week making tea at a warden-sheltered housing association, will not be enough. Common places to try to get experience are nursing homes, community housing or social projects for people with physical or learning difficulties, or hospices. Ideally you need a period of time in these supportive and caring team roles, and then some formal medical shadowing experience, to show that you have addressed several areas of work experience in your spare time. Contact your local hospital or GP surgery and explain that you are trying to acquire some voluntary work experience and would like to shadow some junior doctors in whichever specialty you are most interested in. Yes, all of this is incredibly time-consuming, particularly if you are studying for exams or holding down a full-time job. However, this is the surest way to strengthen your application and I am sure you will find the experiences very rewarding.
Medical career events
There are many events or courses available for potential Medical School applicants, which can be easily found on the Internet or by contacting your school careers advisor or local careers advisory service. These courses aim to give applicants insight into medical training and future career options and information. They often have advice regarding ways to make yourself more competitive for application also. These do provide useful insight, but they are not free of charge and many exist, so if you are interested in these then do some research before booking to make sure you select the course that is appropriate for you.
Development of the attitudes, qualities and skills of a teacher is one of the pillars of Good Medical Practice, a document mentioned earlier in this chapter. Evidence of enthusiasm for and experience of teaching are desirable qualities in a doctor and can only strengthen your application. Some of you will already have backgrounds that involved teaching, which will strengthen this area of your application, though many of you will not. If you have time before the applications are due, volunteer an afternoon a week of your time to help as an assistant teacher at your previous secondary school, perhaps in science which would be most relevant. If you are planning to defer to undertake a gap year abroad, perhaps see if you can tailor your plans to involve yourself in teaching at some point. There are plenty of organisations based all over the world that are keen to have volunteer teachers for variable periods of time. Some of these require you to take a course in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) but this is a short course which can be taken over a weekend or even online, and could be an extra qualification for your CV! More information on gap year projects and TEFL courses is available online or at any careers advisory service.
Evidence of leadership ability is advantageous when applying for Medical School, because as a doctor you will be expected to participate in, co-ordinate and lead multidisciplinary teams. Some of you will already have experience of this either in your previous fields of work or in the forms of sporting captaincy or prefect duties etc. If there is a lack of leadership experience on your CV, think if there are any opportunities for you to step up in any organisations or teams you are currently involved in at school, work, sporting or other clubs. Consider if there are any societies or award schemes you could join such as the Duke of Edinburgh award, though these take time and commitment, and if there is less than a year before your applications are due in you are unlikely to be able to show completion. However, evidence of participation could be recorded on your CV/UCAS form. If you have a free summer before the applications it may be worthwhile applying for some form of volunteer or paid summer camp experience, at home or abroad, where you may be leading, teaching or organising sporting events for children or adolescents.
If you are already involved in many extra-curricular activities that display you as a good all-rounder, then very little preparation is needed for this section. If not, then think realistically about what you can achieve in terms of this section as well as studying for your exams and doing work experience. If there is a particular hobby you have always wanted to try then perhaps give it a go; consider joining school/college activities or societies, but only if you are interested in them. Your local community centre will have lots of information on evening classes and courses, and if you are interested in trying them they may end up as a talking-point on your CV and at interview. Other organisations that you may consider joining could include local charity or volunteering services. Perhaps pick a charity that appeals to you individually. This could also serve to show leadership potential if you are given a role of responsibility.
Excerpted from Preparing the Perfect Medical CV by Helen Douglas, Vivek Sivarajan, Matt Green. Copyright © 2012 BPP Learning Media Ltd. Excerpted by permission of BPP Learning Media.
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Table of Contents
ContentsAbout the Publisher,
Free Companion Material,
About the Authors,
About the Editor,
Section 1: The curriculum vitae and covering letter,
Chapter 1 Covering letters,
Chapter 2 Application to Medical School,
Chapter 3 Application for Foundation Training,
Chapter 4 Application for Specialty Training,
Chapter 5 Application for a Consultant post,
Section 2: Application forms,
Chapter 6 Application forms,
Section 3: Portfolio structure,
Chapter 7 ARCP/RITA,
Chapter 8 Revalidation,