Writing a PA Resume that Gets Noticed
Medicine is a detail-oriented profession. You may only have a few minutes to complete a history, perform an exam and implement a treatment plan. You may do this dozens of times a day with the expectation of delivering error free care. On the other hand, you have months to prepare your resume. Consequently, it must reflect an attention to detail that meets or exceeds the care you deliver. It must not contain any errors. Improper grammar, formatting and spelling errors are inexcusable, plain and simple. Content must be relevant and concise. Most employers assume that any distractions or errors in a two page document will translate into your clinical practice.
Your resume is a written representation of your clinical knowledge and skills. But, it is also an introduction to your communication skills. Most relationships succeed or fail based on communication. This is especially true for relationships between providers and patients. Great communicators are often perceived as great clinicians. The best ones know their audience and tailor their message accordingly. A visually appealing, informative, yet concise resume may be your only communication tool before an interview.
Don’t Overdo It
Don’t Overdo It
Your profession is unique and your resume should reflect that. There are many elements that should be included in a PA resume, but are sometimes overlooked. There are also many items that should be left out. In the end, your resume should easily convey why your skill set makes you the best fit for the position. You should not dilute it with irrelevant and potentially misleading content.
Over the years, we have critiqued thousands of PA resumes working with hundreds of employers. Here are some content related suggestions:
- Your name immediately followed by your PA title
- Complete contact information including current phone number and email address
- Name of PA school and graduation date
- Clinical employment history
- All state licenses, including number(s) and expiration date(s)
- Relevant professional society memberships
- Three professional references
- Name of electronic file should be your first and last name followed by your PA designation
- Objective/summary statement. Only include this if you can demonstrate truly unique qualifications that complement a specific job.
- Clinical rotations during PA school. Only recent graduates or PAs who are transitioning to another specialty and their only relevant experience was during school.
- GPA. Only include if it is a 4.0. Otherwise, you will give those with a higher GPA an advantage. Most employers are much more concerned with your work history and references.
- Unique skill set. Only include specific skills/procedures if relevant.
Information that should not be included:
- High school information
- Generic objective or summary statements. “Looking to join a progressive practice where I can positively impact my patients through evidence based medicine and compassionate care” is a meaningless statement. Furthermore, it dilutes your message and places you squarely in the average category before the reader even finishes your resume. Write something bold, something specific or something truly unique. Otherwise, leave this section out.
- Non-healthcare, non-professional employment including babysitting, lifeguarding, waitressing, and most low level retail and sales positions. By including these types of employment, you dilute your message at best. At worst you may inadvertently highlight your lack of relevant experience.
- Most volunteer activities. Unless you can demonstrate a substantial commitment to an activity over time, leave that activity out.
- Basic skills. Employers expect that all PAs are proficient at performing H&Ps, suturing, splinting, basic wound care, venipuncture, interpreting labs and imaging tests and formulating treatment plans. Don’t devalue your skills by including the most basic ones. Advanced skills such as first assisting, central lines, etc, should be included if they are relevant.