A Brief Guide to Writing a Physician Resume, with Samples
Creating a physician resume is an exercise in precision, but also one within imprecise boundaries. You must compose, in just a few short pages, a career summary that skips nothing of substance and places events in a properly identified chronology.
Of course, there's no guarantee that the physician resumes you create will meet the expectations of any potential employer. There's simply no magic formula, no absolute guide, and no strict set of rules that exists to regulate the structure and content of the document.
However, there are general guidelines that can help draw positive attention to your resume. The following summary offers an overview of the main elements that most recruiters, department directors, and senior physicians expect a doctor's resume to include, as well as a few physician resume samples for additional guidance.
What to Include in Your Physician Resume
1. Your Name and Contact Info
An effective physician resume should balance simplicity, information, and elegance. The structure isn't as important as the contents — i.e., what elements should be included or left out. With that in mind, all the categories listed below can be presented in the order which you believe presents your skills and experience in the most favorable light — except for this, the first category!
It's never a good idea to stray from the most straightforward beginning: Start by presenting your full name, your current and/or permanent address, your email address, and all your contact numbers (phone and cell phone). If you have a LinkedIn profile, include that, as well. (And if you don't have a LinkedIn profile, it's time to strongly consider getting one, particularly if you think you'll be testing the employment waters in the years to come.)
Next, present your professional and educational highlights, in broad but rational categories. If you're a resident, the most prominent category should be your medical education. List the name of your medical school, its location (city and state, and country if different from the one in which you're applying), your degree, and year of completion.
It's important in this stage to double-check all names and dates for accuracy — the recruiter will! Remember, errors on your physician resume, even if unintentional, may paint you in a neglectful light, and could very well eliminate you from consideration for a competitive position (see physician resume samples for reference).
This section should also include any internships, with the area of specialization, facility, location, and year of completion, as well as the same information for any medical residencies and/or fellowships. If you're still in a program, list the date you began and your anticipated date of completion. Now, provide information regarding any other undergraduate degrees. Avoid elaboration here — other than dates, major area(s) of study, and grade point average — unless those degrees pertain directly to medicine. And be specific! Avoid general language, like "to present" when there's an anticipated end date that could be listed instead.
Several categories on your physician resume will require an uncomplicated accounting of, well, paperwork. Physician certifications are one of these: a simple listing of all boards and national examinations taken, with dates. Include also a list of licensure for the states where you currently hold a license to practice medicine. (And if you embrace the locum tenens lifestyle, that list of state physician licenses could be impressive indeed!)
4. Employment History
Begin the physician employment history section of your current or last position; include information regarding your status (staff physician, for example), the name and nature of the practice, admitting facilities, and the usual location and contact information. Briefly describe your responsibilities in each setting, both clinical and administrative. Specify the procedures you performed. In this category, there's no problem with using the phrase "to present" when listing the dates of your current position.
List your employment history in reverse chronological order, presenting each experience since completing medical school. If you've worked as a locum tenens physician, be sure to list each of these practice settings, as well as the staffing firm with which you worked, if applicable. It's vital that you include all positions here — even those you left under less-than-desirable circumstances. Recruiters will possibly discover any omissions, and you don't want to give any impression of falsification. If you're concerned about explaining any career or practice shifts, present that in the cover letter when applying for a specific position, to help keep a positive focus.
While there's some debate over the importance of including references on a physician's resume, it's mandatory to have references at the ready, and to, at the very least, include the phrase "available upon request" at the end of the document. Remember that your resume should be succinct: If you choose to list physician references, select about three (certainly no more than six). Include their name, title, and contact information — and don't forget to inform them that they may receive an inquiry!
6. Other Information
If you have room, add citation information for any articles on which you've worked, as well as academic awards, grants, and related accomplishments, under a special physician achievements or physician publications section. List military experience only if applies to your medical career and experience.
And always remember — keep it brief! And avoid personal information, hobbies, and other ancillary matters. While your participation in a hobby such as wakeboarding may stand out to recruiters or directors flipping through dozens of resumes, it won't help direct their attention toward your professional and educational record. Let your personality come through in the cover letter.
One more word of advice: if you've had a state medical license revoked, if you've lost privileges, suffered through malpractice suits, or had DEA numbers pulled, address these issues in your cover letter, not your physician resume. The key to success is brevity. The cover letter is the place to explain any past issues or problems (as well as potentially tangential accomplishments).
Physician Resume Samples From AMN Healthcare
A brief word on style and appearance: Like the content of your physician resume, there are no universal guidelines for formatting. But it should look simple, with simple fonts and a non-cluttered appearance. Avoid the appearance of "business," and unless you're an expert designer, don't try anything fancy. Also, get a second opinion! Print out a copy of your resume and show it to a friend or family member and get some honest feedback on how it looks.
Most word-processing software applications have resume builders, most of which are acceptable starting points for building your own physician resume. And we're also happy to offer two physician resume samples you can check out for an overview of how to put this all together. To view them, click on the links below.
Ready to Take the Next Step?
Are you in the market for new physician career opportunities? We invite you to view all of our locum tenens jobs here, or complete the form on the right of this page to connect with a recruiter specializing in your specialty.