Monday 9 July 2012

Using The Right Language To Convey The Accurate Message: Shaping Your Research CV For A Residency

Using the correct context is extremely important in expressing your accomplishments when it comes to residency application. Demands are high for an international medical graduate to have a very well rounded CV to stand out from the competition. The need to have research experience may be important in some cases where applicant has a lot of USCE but still feels that having research experience on his CV may make his case more appealing for a residency program.

Goal of portraying your CV as geared towards residency application

Any applicant who is applying for residency is a physician in training. Remember the adage that everything you must do or have done should be some related to your profession as a physician. This is important because, they are looking for physicians to train not researchers to do basic science or artists to perform (Contrary to the popular saying that medicine is both a science and art). Remember, all your endeavors should be goal directed. There are times, however when the opportunity you get may not be the ideal prospect when it comes to residency application. A good example is if you get accepted to do a research rotation in basic science in a lab of a famous professor. How do you make most of the experience in your favor? This article will touch on the topic of portraying your work as being relevant to medicine.

Research experience is broadly divided into three broad categories – Data acquisition (which could be bench related work or patient data), data analysis (statistical work and analysis) and then finally publishing (writing manuscripts). As a research volunteer or trainee you will be intimately involved in at least one of the three steps of research. As a temporary person you may be involved more in the first two steps but if you are lucky then even the third step may not be off limits. 

There are a few rules when it comes to your research experience as it pertains to residency application

  • RULE #1: Prefer to chose to work in a lab which does research on medical condition which IS or HAS a HUMAN counterpart. Thus if you are doing DNA sampling  is it for mice for research in Diabetes, cardiovascular disease etc or is it in Arabidopsis thaliana for plant fungal disease. It is easy to justify the former for physician experience but not the latter.
  • RULE #2: Familiarize yourself with the scientific jargon, understand the goal of the research. Ask your PI for the proposal for you to go over so that you can understand why is it that you are doing all of this in the first place
  • RULE #3: The devil is in the details! Understand and then explain what is it that your project deals with (it may not be your project- but you are working on it!!) For example, If you are working with mice with Parkinson’s disease. Understand and then explain what is it in Parkinson’s disease that you are researching – it is a way to reduce the degeneration of Substantia nigra or is it looking at effect of oxidant stresses on neuron function.  Just saying that you are working on Parkinsons’ disease is not good enough. 
  • RULE #4:  Think big. Even if your sole job is do maintain a mouse strain in a lab don’t just think your are doing just that. Say why the strain is being used and why your job is so vital! For example, if you are taking care of the Ob/ob mice – say on your CV that the project that you are intimately involved with is related to studying the effects of leptin signaling in obesity (or what ever your PI is doing).
  • RULE #5: Do not embellish or garnish your CV just to make it look good. There is a difference between putting things the right way so as to make an impact and creating non existent thing to make an impact. Former is a tact you need to develop, the latter is a tragedy waiting to happen. 

Hopefully these rules will help you guide your research experience towards the goal of residency. Remember, it is not opportunities that decide what happens to us but what we chose to do with them that decides our fate. If you wish to be in touch and get the latest posts and updates, join me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.


  1. research is better than USCE for a person who wants to apply IM and FM?

    1. no. USCE in my opinion is still more important than research experience.

  2. What about an imo applicant who has submitted a thesis in a relevant speciality or area and has presented it in an international forum ??? Will it have weighting as good research?? Also if it is published in a reputed journal


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