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Preparing your CV, Cover Letter, and Personal Statement for Research or Scholarly Activity Opportunities

Your CV, cover letter, and personal statement are often very important components of your application to research programs and in your converstations with prospective mentors.  This page will provide to you some helpful information and tips on how to prepare these documents.  Please reach out to with any questions.

Curriculum Vitae (CV)

Your curriculum vitae (CV) is the document that replaces the resume in a medical student’s career.  The CV is appropriate for academic or medical careers and is much more comprehensive than a resume.  A CV elaborates on education and includes a comprehensive listing of professional history.

As a medical student, your CV should include information no older than graduate and/or undergraduate education.  As you progress to residency and fellowship, your CV should then include information no older than medical school. The medical school information will then remain on your CV for the rest of your career.

Cover Letters

You may be asked to write a cover letter for application to research programs.  May research programs will have guidelines in which you should follow and information in which you should include.  It is very important that you read and follow the guidelines provided.  If no guidelines are provided, a general outline of a cover letter is as follows:

  • Polite Greeting
  • Self-Introduction
  • Establish Credentials
  • Explain how you learned of this opportunity/why you are applying
  • Establish purpose (audience, interview, award, grant, presentation, etc.)
  • Show what you can bring to the organization (specific experience, etc.)

Personal Statement

Purpose of a Personal Statement

  • Share your interests and show enthusiasm for the opportunity for which you are applying
  • Demonstrate what you can contribute
  • State your professional goals and what or how you hope to contribute to the program/project

Tips for Writing Your Personal Statement

Think of your personal statement as a short written description that serves as your introduction to your reader.  Here are some tips:

  • Read the personal statement question carefully.
  • Start working on your personal statement early.  Get feedback from faculty members, colleagues, or preceptors, if possible.
  • Include your research interests as they relate to the position for which you are applying.
  • Mention any special connections you have to the project or program.
  • Include what motivates you toward this type of research experience.
  • State what you hope to gain from the opportunity and how this position fits into your academic, career, and research goals.
  • Proofread for grammar, spelling, paragraph breaks, and correct punctuation.

Examples and Tips

Guide to Preparing CV, Cover Letter, and Personal Statement

AOA CV & Personal Statement

AAMC Careers in Medicine Website

AAMC Preparing Your Curriculum Vitae

AAMC Curriculum Vitae - Tips and Strategies

The DO: Personal Statements