Writing Your Professional Summary: Clinicians

Your professional summary describes your expertise to prospective patients, students, residents and fellows. It forms the core of your presence on the UBMD website and appears on your faculty profile on the medical school website.

Follow these guidelines to write a professional summary that communicates your expertise clearly to non-specialists. Use it to highlight the most unique or impressive points of data you enter into eCV.

Consult this sample professional summary for an example.

Provide sufficient—and sufficiently clear—detail

Potential patients want to gauge at a glance whether you have expertise they need. This sample of a few opening sentences gives a quick but detailed snapshot of the individual’s abilities and experience:

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My clinical expertise focuses on comprehensive pain management for acute (postoperative) and chronic pain patients and the administration of anesthesia for a wide variety of surgical cases. As a physician for the inpatient Acute Pain Service, I attend to the needs of postoperative pain patients, including those with epidural and peripheral nerve catheters. In my role in the multidisciplinary outpatient Chronic Pain Clinic, I evaluate and treat patients with a variety of chronic and cancer-related pain.

Describe what distinguishes you from other physicians in your specialty

  • Do you have experience treating a particular condition or performing a particular surgical or diagnostic technique?
  • Do you hold any patents?
  • Have you worked overseas or with distinct local patient populations?

Connect your work to a specific patient base

Often, clinical interests are tied to particular patient types. Make those connections explicit wherever you can:

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My clinical interests include a comprehensive array of hand and upper extremity disorders such as fractures, tendon and nerve injuries, paralytic disorders and arthritic conditions. I have a particular interest in surgery of the upper limb in patients who have suffered strokes or traumatic head injuries.

Include at least one sentence indicating how your expertise and ongoing research supports patient care: Will your work help to develop new kinds of antibiotics? What specific kinds of people does your work help (expectant mothers, MS patients, people in underserved communities)?

Include numbers where they add to your profile

Where they will strengthen the sense of your capability and expertise, include numbers such as years of experience, approximate numbers of patients treated and so on. Whenever possible, quantify with terms and figures that don’t require frequent updates. For example:

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I employ both technological advances and more than a decade of experience in pain management practice to provide effective pain relief for cancer and non-cancer patients.

Even when using broader terms for numbers and time periods, remember that you still need to periodically update this type of information to keep your profile current.

Prioritize and organize your content

Use separate paragraphs for each topic within your profile.

If you are part of UBMD, describe your clinical expertise first. This will help potential patients quickly assess whether you can help them when they read your profile on the UBMD website.

If you have expertise in multiple clinical areas, describe each one in its own paragraph. If you practice as a clinician and conduct research, use one paragraph to describe your clinical expertise and approach and another to describe your research.

Consider devoting a paragraph to your approach to teaching. Although this information matters most to potential students, it also signals your dedication and friendliness to patients.

If you have room, briefly mention a few details that would help a prospective patient envision your practice. For example, do you work as part of a larger office or hospital clinic? Are you involved with local research institutes? What kinds of nursing or other support staff can patients expect?

Follow our core style guidelines

  • Write no more than 300 words.
  • Use clear, plain-English sentences.
  • Use first-person pronouns (I, my practice, we, our) throughout.
  • Use strong, active verbs wherever possible.
    • Passive verb: Our work is highly relevant to advancing therapeutic options for patients with heart failure.
    • Active verb: Our work will make more advanced therapeutic options available to patients with heart failure.
    • Passive verb: My main focus has been on patients with leukemia, particularly those for whom a matched donor is not available.
    • Active verbs: For more than 15 years, I have provided care for leukemia patients, and I have recently focused on those without a matched donor.
  • Do not capitalize your title: I am chief of service for pediatric neurosurgery at Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo.
  • Do not capitalize areas of research or practice. Use bacteriology and cardiology, not Bacteriology or Cardiology.

Coordinate with your complete eCV

When something is missing from your profile, readers assume it doesn’t exist. Use eCV’s full capabilities to back up your professional summary with greater detail. List in the appropriate categories all of your practice locations, insurance information, hospital affiliations, activities and achievements, and update this information regularly.

You may want to mention major national or regional leadership roles and other professional positions in your professional summary, even if you have also filled in that information in eCV:

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I am chair of the Committee on Obstetric Practice for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and an oral examiner for the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

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Before retiring as a colonel in the U.S. Air Force in 2005, I served as department chair at Wilford Hall Medical Center, as chief consultant to the Surgeon General for Maternal-Fetal Medicine and as commander of the 407th Expeditionary Medical Group in Iraq.

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I also serve as medical director for trial design at the Clinical Research Institute, where I am involved in the design of clinical trials and post-marketing studies of cardiovascular devices.

These positions testify to the respect leaders in your field have for you, which sends a powerful message to potential patients that they can trust you with their health.

Be sure to check all of your specialties in eCV’s Specialties category. Basic sciences faculty use the same category to specify their Specialty/Research Focus.

Do not list titles of your publications in your professional summary. Go to the Publications section in eCV and follow the directions for importing your publications automatically from PubMed/Medline. Readers will then be able to refer to them easily for greater detail on your work.

You may want, however, to mention particularly notable publications as part of your professional summary narrative if they support your image as a competent, caring physician: My research focuses on clinical anesthesia of children, which led to me revising the leading textbook on pediatric anesthesia.

Do not provide time-sensitive information such as pending grants for projects. The information in your professional summary should be able to remain current for at least a year. Do, however, give full details for all your ongoing grants under Grants.