What's the Difference between a Physician CV and Résumé? Which Should You Use?

Here at AMN Healthcare, we not only specialize in providing the nation's doctors, dentists, and clinicians with amazing, exclusive locum tenens career opportunities across the United States — we're also proud to serve as a complete resource for residents, fellows, and new physicians looking to get their career off to the best possible start.

To that end, we've assembled a library of helpful career tips, including advice on getting the most out of the career fair circuit, tips on nailing that next job interview, and lots more.

Perhaps the most popular insight we've offered to new physicians, though, is our series of articles on creating the best possible physician's curriculum vitae (CV). Including everything doctors need to know about creating a winning résumé, these articles are among our most often read and frequently cited.

The appeal is understandable: It should probably go without saying that you don't have to be an active job seeker to know the importance of keeping your résumé or CV up to date. At any point, you could unexpectedly need to shift your career to a different facility or region. If so, having an updated physician CV and/or résumé at the ready could make a big difference in how effectively, and how quickly, you can make that change.

Which Do You Need: Physician CV vs. Résumé

What's the difference between a physician's CV and a résumé? The short answer: A curriculum vitae is more detailed and in-depth than a résumé.

"The CV presents a full history of your academic credentials, so the length of the document is variable," explains the University of California Davis Internship and Career Center. "In contrast, a resume presents a concise picture of your skills and qualifications for a specific position, so length tends to be shorter and dictated by years of experience (generally 1-2 pages)."

A CV "is more detailed than a résumé, and can be thought of as a living document that is updated frequently, adds Georgetown University. "A typical CV for someone in the early stages of their graduate school career is 2-3 pages, but for an experienced researcher, it could be 10 or more pages."

In other words, whereas a CV is "a list of vital statistics, including employment, research, education, awards, publications, patents, etc," as Francine R. Gaillour, MD, MBA, FACPE puts it for the Physician Coaching Institute, a résumé "is a creative document whose objective is to persuade the reader that you have the ability to solve specific business problems" (emphasis ours).

A CV "only changes as your accomplishments grow—you publish the findings of a scientific study or a short story, or you receive an award as a Teaching Assistant—whereas a résumé can and should be modified often as you job search and apply to different companies and positions," adds at The Muse.

Do you need a physician CV or résumé? Or both? Use a résumé when you want to focus on specific skills or experience, writes Heather Fork, MD, CPCC for Doctor’s Crossing.

"A properly written résumé will present a clear picture to a potential employer of why you are optimally suited for the position," writes Dr. Fork. "For example, let’s imagine you were applying for a job at an Electronic Medical Records (EMR) company where you will be training other physicians on the software. If you just dust off your CV and send it in, you could likely be ignored."

Instead, rewrite your physician CV as a résumé, highlighting "why you are suited for this job," Dr. Fork advises.

"If your experience is primarily clinical, you may still be a candidate, but it would be ideal to have some additional relevant content" like EMR implementation involvement or teaching experience/awards, she adds.

Some experts advise keeping both an updated CV and résumé at the ready. Practically, though, given the level of detail required to create a physician CV, the expectation is that you should always maintain an updated résumé, which you can then use to build an expanded CV, should it be requested by a potential employer or recruiter.

"Even for employers in clinical trials work or government research that request a CV, always have your strong executive resume ready," Dr. Gaillour writes. "If you are contemplating fields outside of these two, focus only on the resume."

If you're not sure whether a physician CV or résumé is appropriate in any given instance, don't hesitate to ask. "In the United States and Canada, CV and résumé are sometimes used interchangeably," the UC Davis experts add. "If you are not sure which kind of document to submit, it is best to ask for clarification."

Finally, it should go without saying that a physician's résumé is just one piece of a larger, more complex career-finding puzzle.

"No physician I know obtained their big break, their non-clinical job or their bust-open-opportunity by virtue of an impressive piece of paper," Dr. Gaillour writes. "This is not to say the résumé is not important; it is. But the résumé is only a single element of successful transition — indeed for some of you, the résumé will be irrelevant. Your own chutzpa, contacts, risk-taking, great invention, cleverness, or entrepreneurship, will dictate your success."

Ready to put your physician CV or résumé to the test? Find a locum tenens job opportunity today by searching from the link below.

To learn more about the locum tenens lifestyle and the benefits for your career, complete the form on the right of this page and one of our recruiters will get back to you to answer questions and discuss opportunities.

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