Hi I’m Megha and I’m a Trewlink Community Expert. I am also currently working as an SHO in General Medicine at a Trust in the outskirts of London. I have recently started out in the NHS and I’m glad to finally be here.
As more and more IMGs come into the UK looking for their first job in the NHS, certain positions and jobs can become competitive due to high demand. In this situation, having a good CV is essential. You can start working on your CV as early as possible like right from medical school even.
What is a CV? A CV, short for the Latin phrase curriculum vitae, means “course of life." It is a document that details your best qualities as they relate to the job you’re applying for. It is standard practice to submit your CV when applying for any job, from entry-level to senior positions. A typical CV shows your professional history, academic background and key skills. You can add other sections to your CV if they are relevant to the position, including achievements and hobbies.
IMGs usually have good clinical exposure from their home countries and they can demonstrate clinical skills easily but struggle to demonstrate skills in the other areas which are also deemed important in the UK. It is important to understand the level of skills required for the particular job or grade you are targeting as it will help you prepare the CV accordingly.
This blog may also help medical students aiming to practice in the UK as it is important to start developing your portfolio early in the career keeping in mind the specialties you are aiming for.
You can break down your CV into the following sections.
2.Teaching Experience/Teaching Qualifications
3.Leadership & Teamwork Experience
4.Audit & Service Improvement Projects
5.Courses, Training and Conferences
Electives and clinical attachments within the NHS can help you develop a better understanding of the system, improve clinical skills, build connections, find research and audit projects and gain references. They can also help you find a job at the same trust if you show yourself to be competent enough once you have your GMC registration.
Although these experiences can be arranged free of cost and easily, it can cost a fair bit of money to travel and live in the UK for that time period. These can be valuable additions to your CV as they display prior NHS experience for an IMG.
There are excellent articles on how to get a clinical attachment on Trewlink here.
Teaching experience can help you develop your own knowledge, communication skills and demonstrate your commitment to a specialty. Most IMGs already have teaching experience with medical students and junior doctors in informal setting but struggle to prove it and place it on their profile. It is important to gather evidence of your teaching activities. Evidence could be:
1.A certificate confirming that you delivered teaching.
2.A letter from senior confirming your teaching activities.
3.Feedback from the students you were teaching. Many types of feedback forms are freely available on the internet.
Teaching could be multidisciplinary involving nurses and other health care professionals or even general public. You can set up your own teaching sessions or join already planned teaching activities.
There are teaching courses available which can help you improve your teaching skills like for example the “Teach the Teacher Course”
If you are more interested in an academic career & formal qualifications relating to teaching, you can consider qualification in Medical Education for example:
1.Postgraduate Certificate/Diploma in Medical Education
2.Masters in Medical Education.
These courses are available via various UK universities for both e-learning and face to face learning. Though they are very comprehensive, they can be expensive and require a lot of time commitment.
Leadership qualities with team working skills is valued among doctors in the NHS.
As IMGs, we are involved in team working, leadership and management activities in clinical and non clinical settings but may not understand how to evidence our progress. Think what you could do or have been doing with your colleagues or medical students around you.
A few examples are:
Setting up a project to help patients and their relatives.
Working together on research or quality improvement projects
Setting up health information initiatives for general public
Participating in vaccination drives
Being a part of societies in medical school
Organising various events.
Team work and leadership in sports activities.
Quality Improvement is all about making improvements in healthcare which ultimately lead to safer and more effective patient care. Audits can be thought of as QIPs (depending on their method).
Usually as IMGs, at least where I come from in India, we are not used to doing any QIPs and audits as doctors. It is a new concept to get used to when we first come here. Simple audits can be conducted on your own with supervision from supportive consultants. It is not necessary but will give you an edge for job applications.
This is also the requirement for the new CREST form which is required to enter speciality training.
A few examples for IMGs are:
1.Studying the standards of documentations in certain areas of medicine and comparing with what was expected. This could be history taking, medication charts, documentation of physical examination, consent forms and discharge notes.
2. Studying the local prescribing guidelines for certain conditions and comparing it with current practices and identifying shortcomings.
Research and Presentations
This is something that is relatively easier for us to find in our healthcare systems. No matter where you are in your professional journey there are always opportunities to participate in research with seniors or initiate original research with a consultant as a supervisor. It can be as simple as a letter of editor or a case report or it can be original research. Research experience enhances your CV however at a junior doctor level it is not an essential requirement for most jobs. There are excellent articles about types of research on Trewlink here.
Courses, Training and Conferences
There are a variety of courses that can be done to build your CV quickly. They should be geared towards your professional goals as well. They can be ACLS courses in your home country, ultrasound courses especially for vascular access, courses for suturing and other procedures for the surgically minded.
It can also include research courses, or medical education courses like Teach the teacher etc.
Course, training and conferences can help show your progress as a doctor and your interest in a particular speciality. Attendance of a course or a conference can be evidenced by an Attendance certificate. IMGs can find a lot of relevant courses, seminars, training and conferences in their home countries.
If you have enough time you can try to answer the first parts of various membership exams like MRCP, MRCS, MRCEM depending on your professional goals. It displays the depth of your knowledge and commitment to your specialty. Do not answer membership exams unnecessarily especially if it’s not in your specialty of choice as they are expensive and time consuming to prepare for.
Additional Relevant Interests
Engaging in activities outside medicine and pursuing hobbies provide us with essential skills that can round us out as a person. These skills are also transferable to clinical situations. Below are a few examples.
Team sports can help you develop team working skills, critical thinking skills, communication skills, leadership style, working under pressure and help you find ways to motivate others.
Learning and playing music improves problem solving, creative thinking and adaptability to various situations.
Travelling exposes you to variety of different perspectives, cultures and situations teaching you how to adapt.
Hiking and other nature related activities help you to deal with stress, ensuring well-being and helping you perform under pressure.
Volunteering with different societies and charities helps to develop team working and management skills.
Learning a new language shows good cognitive thinking and adaptability.
In conclusion, make practical and efficient choices that are oriented towards your personal goals. The most important element in building a strong CV is having personal goals and working towards it particularly and gradually filling the gaps. The personal goals can be the specialty you want to pursue in the future, a certain type of position/job you want to work in etc. Having a good CV is important but so is being aware of basic guidelines and concepts to handle acute conditions and emergencies especially in the specialty you wish to pursue. For a junior doctor there cannot be a lapse in judgement in that. Hence, don’t completely take your focus off of what you actually need to know in pursuit of a good CV. Prioritizing is the key.
If you have any questions about CV building tips through med school, I would be happy to answer them at trewlink.com.