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Make Your CV a Gender Equity Ally

Written by: Avital O'Glasser, MD, FACP, FHM
Published on: Aug 26, 2021
This article is published in the 2021 edition of the
Women in Medicine Summit Compendium
Click here to find out more and read the other articles

By Avital O'Glasser, MD, FACP, FHM

The curriculum vitae. The CV.

The often eye-roll-inducing, groan-soliciting, angst-provoking professional document that must be updated, maintained and groomed to capture and communicate one’s professional merits and strengths.

Despite the immediate reactions the term might elicit, what is the CV’s role? How did it come to occupy its current position in medicine, both inside and out of academia? And how, in 2021, can we harness the CV as a tool to promote equity, diversity and inclusion in medicine?

The CV, which gets its name from the Latin for “course of life,” is intended to be a comprehensive record of one’s professional life, including education, work experience, output and other achievements (George, 2021). Leonardo da Vinci is credited with creating the first CV, a lengthy hand-written letter to the Duke of Milan (Petrone, 2015; Cenedella, 2016).

In medicine, it often feels like the CV is weighted primarily on the traditional currency of medical professional accomplishment – peer-reviewed publications and invited lectures. But can the CV articulate accomplishments and abilities beyond this currency – and why does this question matter now more than ever? Da Vinci’s CV is far more that a static list of past accomplishments. Rather, he sells himself and his unique and innovative strengths through the narrative of his professional arc.

Pre-pandemic, I started working with the ADVANCE Group (Advancing Vitae and Novel Contributions for Everyone) to embrace the challenge of adding social media-based activities and non-traditional/digital scholarship to the CV (Shapiro, et al, 2019; O’Glasser, et al, 2019). Others contributed to this discussion, generating recommendations for not just where to put these items on a CV but also how to create standard language to communicate the effort, impact and influence of such scholarship (Cabrera, Roy, et al, 2017; Cabrera, Vartabedian, et al, 2017; Acquaviva, et al, 2020).

I shared the growing concern that a large swath of those in the medical profession are being disadvantaged as they try to articulate their achievements and advance professionally. Could medical clinicians dedicated to education “prove” their merit? Could individuals passionate about non-traditional work be recognized and respected for their efforts? Could women and minorities in medicine avoid the leaks in the profession’s very leaky pipeline?

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

We quickly saw data showing that women in medicine were being disproportionally affected, with similar concerns expected for people of color. Women and minority clinicians already paying the “mommy tax” and “minority tax,” respectively, were even more at risk of significant career disruption and burnout as publication submissions declined and other sacrifices to academic productivity increased (Viglione, 2020; Spector, et al, 2020; Woitowichm et al, 2020; Jones, et al, 2020).

The ADVANCE Group created a COVID-19 CV matrix to help clinicians capture and articulate their pandemic pivots (Arora, Jain, et al, 2020; Arora, Wray, et al, 2020). More than simply accounting for the lack of academic productivity during the pandemic, we wanted to look at achievements and contributions holistically, arguing that clinical leadership, service, advocacy and social media use belong on the CV..

We strongly believe that a more broadly defined and more inclusive CV can be a tool to promote gender equity and diversity in medicine, especially as we move beyond the COVID-19 pandemic (Arora, et al, 2021; O’Glasser, et al, 2021). Achieving this potential will require not only that individuals add these non-traditional accomplishments to their CVs, but also that their inclusion be embraced by those reading the CVs.

So, add it, include it, remodel it, discuss it and be a bold ally to empower and champion clinicians whose accomplishments transcend the traditional merits of professional achievement and reflect the value of diversity and innovation (Woitowich, et al, 2020; Burns, 2020).

Avital O'GlasserAvital O'Glasser, MD, FACP, FHM

A hospitalist and Associate Professor of Medicine within the Division of Hospital Medicine, Department of Medicine and Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University. Her clinical practice focus is perioperative medicine, and she is the Medical Director of the Preoperative Medicine Clinic. She is also the Assistant Program Director for Social Media and Scholarship for OHSU’s Internal Medicine Residency Program. In addition to perioperative medicine, her academic interests include analyzing the role and effectiveness of social media, particularly Twitter, within healthcare. She additionally engages her passion for examining and promoting the overlap between medicine and novel or non-traditional scholarship, for example exploring and advocating how we can capture impact and reach of non-traditional work such as digital scholarship on CVs and applications. She also serves as the Honorary Chief of Perioperative Medicine for the internal medicine podcast The Curbsiders.

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