Acurriculum vitae (CV) is much more than a resume for physicians. It serves as a lifelong accumulation of milestones, training, degrees, and accomplishments that follows your career from undergraduate experience to retirement.
No matter how much your patients might want to know about your accomplishments, few will want to read your entire CV—a “Cliff Notes version” is all they really want to read. Consumers cannot always adequately distinguish what is really relevant for them versus everything else. Therefore, aesthetic physicians are wise to maintain a brief bio that is consumer friendly and includes the accolades consumers are programmed to look for in priority order (that is, the most important first).
A bio should highlight only the most notable achievements of your career, and is intended for use on Web sites and in press kits and practice brochures. It may be useful to have several versions at the ready for different purposes—a one-paragraph biographical description that is less than 250 words, a brief bio that covers at least the basics of your background and expertise in 500 words, and a slightly expanded version of the bio that includes bullet points of key accomplishments included in the narrative.
For your Web site, keep in mind that you literally have only a few seconds to capture the interest of visitors, so make every second count. Include a very brief list of your most prominent qualifications, and if you are committed to including a full CV then it can be added as a link to a separate Web page.
PITFALLS TO AVOID
A common mistake we see among physicians, particularly surgeons, is to publish a bio to impress their colleagues or themselves, rather than prospective patients. For example, summarize rather than list everything you have published—”He has written over 100 papers and chapters in the medical literature,” or, “He has published numerous scientific articles.”
Regrettably, a majority of aesthetic patients would be more impressed you were quoted in a popular women’s magazine than published in a peer-reviewed journal.
A brief bio should focus mainly on your professional accomplishments rather than personal details. Educational information should begin with either your undergraduate degree, especially if you attended a well-known university or Ivy League college, or information on your medical training (depending on space constraints). The high school or prep school you attended is probably not relevant.
It is fine to include a photo with your bio, but it should be current. For example, if you had a full head of dark hair once and have a sparse head of gray hair now, don’t use the older photo unless you want to confuse your patients.
Another pitfall to avoid is starting your bio by stating, “With over 30 years of experience in facelifting….” Be careful to steer clear of dating yourself or making yourself sound so experienced that you seem too old to be up-to-date with modern techniques. If you are in the twilight of your career, it may be best to limit any references to a time line or dates. Similarly, if you are just out of your residency, you should be careful to avoid sounding too young or inexperienced.
To make your bio more personal, consider adding a meaningful quote in the first person that expresses your philosophy about beauty, surgery, medicine, and/or patient care.
It is imperative to keep your bio and CV current so as to not leave out any important detail that deserves special recognition. Assign one person on staff to maintain your CV and biographical descriptions, and add or delete facts as needed.
In summary, a brief bio should be easy to read, clear and concise, and deliver the message that you are well qualified and have the requisite expertise and credentials. The consumer reading it should be left wanting to know more about you.
Wendy Lewis is president of Wendy Lewis & Co Ltd, Global Aesthetics Consultancy, author of 11 books and founder/editor-in-chief of Beauty in the Bag (www.beautyinthebag.com). She can be reached at .