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How to write the perfect medical school application resume

In general, a resume’s content outlines the academic, professional & life experiences that most accurately define you and your journey. A medical school application resume is not different. Although not required by many medical schools in Canada, a well-crafted, diverse and unique cv is a great way to stand out from other applicants.


Regardless of the medical school you’re thinking of applying to, most schools will require you to submit a variation of a resume. For example, French medical schools in Quebec (ie: University of Montreal, University of Laval & University of Sherbrooke) don’t require their applicants to submit a formal resume. McGill University however, requires applicants, regardless of their category to submit a resume based on a template they provide on their website. Whether you need to draft a short paragraph on your employment history and extracurriculars like University of Toronto or draft a more formal autobiographical sketch for McMaster University, it’s important to know which entries to include and how to formulate them to highlight your most valuable assets.



Education & Training- most schools will require of you to list your academic achievements. This section will usually contain an applicant’s academic journey from high school to university (if applicable).

Applicants may or may not wish to add their cGPA (cumulated Grade Point Average) to highlight their academic standing. Below is an example of a standard entry in this section:


Title

Bachelors of Science (BSc)


Institution

Wellington University

Montreal, QC


Description (if applicable)

Honours Immunology; cGPA 3.99/4.0

Faculty of Microbiology & Immunology



Employment History- this section includes all non-academic experiences where you earned a salary. Whether you were a bank clerk, cashier at a grocery store or a part-time teacher this is a good section to showcase your professional side. Although you may have had many job experiences in your life up until this application, try to focus on the ones you did for longer periods of time. It’s better to include few experiences with a longer shelf life than a bunch of short-term entries. You also want to make sure to format the entries you choose in a way that highlights important traits and qualities in the medical world. Below is an example:


Title

Academic tutor


Company/ Organization

ABC Tutoring

Montreal, QC


Description (if applicable)

Responsible for assessing tutor’s skillsets, evaluating student’s individual needs, and matching them appropriately. Having started as a tutor, I personally experienced the benefits of a complementary tutor-student partnership, as well as the shortcomings of an incompatible one. This awareness allowed me to better communicate with parents and other professionals to ensure each student’s learning and development needs are better understood.



Volunteering Experience- this section, as the name suggests is reserved for all your volunteer experiences. Whether you helped raised money for a fundraiser, delivered care baskets or went on a trip abroad to help under privileged communities, entries in this section should reflect who you are and where you choose to devote your free time. Many applicants believe that the more volunteering entries they have the better applicant it makes them. But just like in the previous section, focus on the volunteering experiences you’ve done for longer periods of time. In addition, if possible, try to gain volunteer experiences in the medical field (ie: shadowing a doctor or volunteering for a research lab or a local clinic) because if you want a career in medicine, it’s important to get as much exposure as early as possible. Below are 2 examples of volunteering entries:


Title

Youth volunteer


Organization

JAA Federation

Montreal, QC


Description (if applicable)

‘Big sister’ and mentor to a 15-year-old girl who recently immigrated to Canada. Understanding the social and cultural challenges my ‘little sister’ was going through, I helped her adjust to the unfamiliar territory and equipped her with the necessary tools to make good decisions. This experience allowed me to recognize the disparities that exist between populations and allowed me to develop my passion towards working with children and minorities.


Title

Study coordinator


Organization

St James Hospital

Toronto, Can


Description (if applicable)

Administered study logistics such as data recruitment, patient monitoring & follow-up. Required to analyze samples for genetic markers. While being responsible for the testing & DNA manipulation of samples, I was able to effectively detect & categorize potential genetic markers. Working in the lab has highlighted the importance of research and its impact on the clinical interaction. Working with multiple doctors has taught me how to adapt & navigate fast paced environments as well as how to collaborate with various working styles.



Research Experiences- this section is reserved for students who were able to land research experience at the time of their application. Whether research was done part-time as a CEGEP student in the summers, or full-time as part of a degree requirement, any research experience, especially publications can carry a lot of weight. Below is an example of a research entry:


Title

Research assistant


Department/ Office/ Lead authors

Leede Biochemistry Lab

Alberta, Can


Description (if applicable)

Required to identify various bacterial and fungi populations from local water sources. Techniques learned: making media, growing, and extracting bacteria, streaking, isolating DNA and RNA and running PCR reactions. This experience allowed me to enhance my professionalism and gain active insight into the constantly changing world of science and medicine.



Extracurriculars- this section tends to confuse applicants as they often confuse it with service to community/ volunteering and even skills & hobbies. Extracurriculars are activities that students engage in outside of their schools’ academic curriculum. A list of diverse and unique extracurriculars paints the picture of a well-rounded and motivated applicant. Examples of strong extracurriculars can be: youth soccer coach, club founder, and many more. Below is an example of a detailed extracurriculars entry.


Title

Book Club Founder


Organization

The Book Worms

Toronto, Can.


Description (if applicable)

Being an avid reader, I’ve always turned to books for an escape from reality.

Wanting to share my deep-rooted love for books, I started a book club to help elementary school students explore & discover their passion for literature.



Awards & Achievements- this section speaks for itself and highlights any awards/ achievement that applicant may have received in academic life. From winning the science fair competition in high school (for pre-med applicants) to scholarships and undergraduate research awards (for university applicants) any recognized achievement is worth mentioning in this section. Here is an example:


Title

John T. Miller Undergraduate Scholarship


Organization

The Lady Miller Foundation

Vancouver, BC.


Description (if applicable)

Awarded for dedicating over 120 hours to the program in research and for maintaining a cGPA> 3.9.



Skills & Hobbies- last but certainly not least. For some reason this section is almost always left blank. Not paying much attention to it, applicants don’t realize this is their chance to be creative, step outside the box and really let admissions get a glimpse into who they are. This small but crucial section allows be as original as you can so whether you like to scuba dive in the Maldives, or paint or sculpt in times of stress, this is your time to shine! Here are 2 examples you might find useful:


Title

Recreational abstract painter


Description (if applicable)

Abstract painter. Over the years painting has become my second love. Painting allows me to spend time with myself and reorient my energy and focus on the present.


Title

High Interval Intensity Training (HIIT) & Strength Training


Description (if applicable)

Physical activity in general is a very powerful stress outlet for me. While HIIT allows me to develop my physical and mental wellbeing, providing me with an outlet to release my stress and promote positivity, strength straining allows me to get stronger, prevent injury and connect with my body and mind in a positive and healthy way.




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