Creating Resumes using LaTeX – templates

I wrote about my current method of keeping my resume organized using LaTeX in this previous post, and I still love it. The combination of keeping things organized with a Google spreadsheet and perfectly consistent formatting using LaTeX means that I can update my resumes at least 10 times throughout the residency application season without breaking a sweat.

LaTeX resume sample output

What the resume looks like

I’ve decided to make a mock resume using the LaTeX template that I am using now and share it with the world. If you like how this looks, you can download the files below. When the resume fills with your information, it will likely look even better.

  1. Spreadsheet to organize the resume. Note if you put a ‘%’ tag in the left-most column, that row will be left out in the final PDF output. This is a convenient way to customize your resume for different audience.
  2. TeX file. There are some personal information fields in the front you should edit infrequently, such as when you change address or add new education diplomas.
  3. This resume template is dependent on the res.cls file, so you should save it to the same folder as your resume TeX files.

If you haven’t installed LaTeX, follow this link to find an installation for your operating system.

I started digging around for a good template for LaTeX resumes, and found this site to be simple and to the point. I adapted my current template from their “res8“.

Like I said before, using LaTeX to build resumes is rewarding but also quite easy to mess up. If you look at the TeX file, it should be obvious where your personal information should go, and how your resume should be copied over from the spreadsheet. Rule of thumb is, the more information you keep on the spreadsheet, the easier it would be to just copy and paste between resume versions.

Let me know if you run into any trouble.


A busy day in the emergency room

I had a great time in the emergency rooms around Vancouver when I went through my third year rotations. I guess I liked the variety of cases that come through the door, and doing what I think is one of the most fun parts of medicine: diagnosing and stabilizing all sorts of patients until the right experts can take over.

But my 4 weeks of emergency in Vancouver was nothing compared to what I did in a rural rotation during my fourth year. In a small town emergency manned by just one doctor, I suddenly became a useful member on the team. The nurses look to me to take on patients so that I can help with the workflow, seek me out to do procedures “because the student should learn this”, and the doctor place me up front and center for my first cardiac arrest code…

During the day, I sutured a few lacerated fingers (I love suturing no matter how many times I do it… I think it has to do with liking to do small arts and crafts that are fun but not overwhelming), examined a few patients with various ailments, pushed the shock button and zapped a patient out of her multifocal atrial tachycardia, all in a day’s work.

But in the evening, things got more interesting. While I was talking to the ER doc about anaphylaxis, a family member suddenly called out: “we need some help!” I jumped up and rushed to the bedside; I interviewed the frail lady just several minutes ago and thought she just had a partial bowel obstruction, and ordered the standard set of workup.

She looked very different now. Her eyes rolled back, and her muscles started to spasm. Her false teeth came loose and was about to fall into the back of the throat when I threw on a pair of gloves and grabbed it.

“Open her airway,” the ER doc said. “Start bagging her. Call a code!” He turned and called out to the nurses.

I grabbed the bag-valve-mask and the thing fell apart. I clumsily put it back together and starting bagging (providing artificial respiration by pressing air into the lungs with the bag) the patient. I was so focused on my task that when I finally looked up, the family member has been gone, a team is already around the patient, and an ECG was showing ventricular tachycardia (and she is pulseless)- one of the most deadly heart rhythms that means certain death if not corrected in minutes.

“All clear!”

The patient jerked while the shock was delivered. I resumed bagging the patient right away, but almost immediately she started showing signs of life, moving her limbs and spitting out her oral airway. I pulled out the airway and the doctor told me to keep bagging her. After a minute or two, she started breathing on her own and I just held the mask delivering 15L/minute of oxygen over her face, and took in the scene.

A nurse was having difficulty with placing the oxygen pulsimeter, another nurse is placing a large-bore IV, and someone else is fitting a bag of fluids into a pressure cuff. The ER doc was giving orders for interventions and investigations. The patient continued to stabilize, and things finally settled. She was saved from death, for now, but we haven’t figured out what she was dying from.

As a part of tests to find out, we ordered an arterial blood gas. This requires puncturing the artery with a needle to draw arterial blood, to find out about the gases and pH values of blood that the body sees. I had practiced on a classmate more than a year ago, so I was poking my head over a nurse’s shoulder to get a look.

She suddenly asked, “where’s the student?”

“I’m right here behind you.” I said.

“You should be doing this.” She said, matter-of-factly.

“I was thinking ‘I wish I could be doing this'”, I said, which was the truth.

So we switched spots. I struggled at first, but another nurse holding the patient’s hand was steady and patient, and the ER doc gave me some directions, and I got a steady stream of arterial blood from the radial artery. First ABG, success.

The ABG later showed that the patient had plenty of oxygen in her blood, and no other abnormalities. “You bagged her well,” the ER doc said. First time bagging a coding patient, success.

Later on that evening, just as everyone felt they’ve put in a good day, a call came in notifying us that there’s a cardiac arrest patient being rushed in by ambulance.

A team of nurses that make up the trauma team got ready in the trauma bay, and I volunteered to do chest compressions. But the ER doc had something else in mind.

“You will intubate the patient.” He said.

“Alright!” I said, excited.

“Have you intubated before?”

“Only in very controlled settings (in the operating room).” I said

“Well, there will be nothing controlled about this,” he said.

We checked the intubation equipment, and someone pulled up the glidescope. The guidescope is basically a camera that shows the patient’s airway on a screen, which often helps visualizing the trachea into which the tube has to be inserted.

After a few minutes of calm when the whole team waited, the ambulance arrived. A nurse closest to the door took a look, and said quietly: “god, he is 400lb.”

The ambulance crew flew in with the morbidly obese patient, and somehow managed to drag him over to our stretcher. The continued to pound away on his chest until our nurses took over. The team got to work, placing IV’s, defibrillator pads, and I pulled over the glidescope.

“Go?” I asked.

“Go.” The ER doc said. “And 1mg of epinephrine!” He said to the medication nurse.

I opened the man’s mouth. His neck is massive, and his tongue seemed as big as my palm. I couldn’t even fit the glidescope into his mouth, and I think it is at least 2 inches too short for him.

“Let’s use the traditional way,” the ER doc said after he couldn’t get a view either.

I pulled up the laryngoscope, and naturally used my right hand to put his head (which must weigh 8kg) into the sniffing position. I saw the epiglottis, and it was impossible to see the vocal cords.

Thankfully I learned how to use a flick motion with the tube in this suboptimal situation, and I got it in one go.

Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, the patient was too far gone. The ambulance crew has been doing CPR for about 30 minutes before arriving to the emergency, and he was in asystole on arrival. The most likely cause of death is a massive MI, and there is little CPR can do in this situation.

The ER doc called it, and commended on everyone’s efforts. He was especially impressed with my intubation.

“Truly a great job. Things were chaotic, the nurses were doing chest compressions, the man is so obese that even anesthetists would have to try hard.” He said. “You won’t have to do a harder intubation in your life.”

Although the outcome of my first case of cardiac arrest was not successful, I left the emergency room at 2am knowing that I have done as well as what anyone in my situation could have, and that was a good feeling for a medical newbie like me.

And I realized: the more I do in the emergency, the more I like it.


Resume revamped

How do you write your resume?

Most people I know use MS Word and try to maintain the look of a template that they like. I used to use Word as well, and I have a template that I thought was reasonably pleasing to look at.

My old resumes are done in Word. Some lines are starting to get misaligned. With careful adjustment, this can become presentable.

However, there are some obvious problems with using a word processor to edit resumes, due to some inherent characteristics in a resume. Namely, resumes:

  1. Need a moderately complex but highly stable layout to look good. Resumes usually have section headings, job titles, time frame, location, company name, and job description, among other things. They are usually laid out using left, right, and center alignments, bold or italic fonts, and/or varying font sizes. But to look good, the entire resume should have a consistent format. Even if a date is offset by 0.5cm, the resume will start to look sloppy. You can do so by copying and pasting sections to try to preserve a consistent format, but when you edit the text, there is a good chance that the format will be thrown off, leaving you to struggle for ages to make the dates aligned on the right hand side again.
  2. Are constantly updated. You need to add new job items, new volunteer experiences, update the time frames on previous job descriptions, etc. to your resume. You may find yourself in the situation where the delicately designed resumes on Word that you built a few summers ago fall apart like a weathered antique that cannot be tempered with.
  3. Should be tailored. Every time you apply to a job, you should tailor a version of your resume. With Word, you may have to cut and paste items suitable for a specific job from any number of previous resumes, thus creating a mess of slightly different versions that gets more and more cumbersome to keep track.

So I wanted to switch to a system where I can achieve the above with maximal ease. I want to deal with formatting less, and focus on content more. I want to be able to update any section I want without worrying which word should be bolded and which word should have a 11pt font rather than 12pt. I also want to be able to “comment out” unwanted items for any particular job without removing it from my resume, so that while it won’t show up on the finished product, it is still easily accessible on the if I need it in the future. In fact, I want a “Master Resume” where everything I could put on a resume lives, and I just need to pick and choose which items to show up for a particular version and click print.

I explored two options: first is XML/HTML + CSS, which is an improvement over Word but still a bit messy on the content side with all the HTML tags, and the output is a webpage, not an easily printable copy.

So I settled on my old friend: LaTeX.

After a few iterations, I designed a new resume system that I feel very proud of.

1. Content backend. All of my job titles, descriptions, dates, etc, live on an easily readable spreadsheet, on which I can make edits effortlessly. And since this is LaTeX, I can comment out any job item by simply putting “%” in a left column, and that item will not show up in the finished product but it is still available for future use. In fact, I can create a different column of %’s for each version of resume, so that I take one glance and know which job items have been shown in which application.

The columns with content are interlaced with minimal LaTeX syntax, made possible by item 2 below.

For added awesomeness, do this part on Google Docs and edit your resume anywhere!

2. Centralized formatting. I pulled all the formatting up into a method, which means there is only 1 line of code determining which words should be on the left, which ones on the right, and which ones to be indented by how much space. If I want to make all the job titles italic instead of bolded, I only need to change one word. I built on top of the format template found here.

This part I don’t have to edit often, but if I wanted to change how each job item looks, I just need to edit this piece of code and the changes will apply to all resumes.

3. Integration. Now, I just need to copy the spreadsheet with the appropriate selector %’s, paste it onto LaTeX in the appropriate location, and click on generate PDF.

Copied and pasted from the spreadsheet. The coloring is automatic syntax coloring, to help visualize the code.

And then check out the final product for any final touches.

Finished product looks so awesome that I can’t wait to show it to people. Good start for any job application if you ask me.

I would be happy to share the code and spreadsheet I shared the TeX code and spreadsheet in this follow-up post, although this is a highly breakable system because there are countless ways to break it. You just need to miss one tag on the spreadsheet to be entirely stuck.

And of course there is the intimidation factor. All these code-looking things can make those with faint of heart hesitate.

Therefore, if there is market, I think it would be wise to make a more robust and less flexible software that allows the user to enter values in a spreadsheet, and spits out PDF files on the other end, and save everyone from the code.

You said there are lots of software like that?

Well, not exactly the way I made it, I’d bet 🙂

Deleting or importing iPhone and/or iPad photos quickly on a Mac

There is a completely painless way to import and delete photos on your iPhone or iPad, if you use a Mac. Now, I have not tested this on all Macs, but I suspect most Macs would be able to do it.

1. Connect your iPhone or iPad to the Mac.

2. Launch the Image Capture tool by typing “Image Capture” in the Spotlight search bar (the magnifying glass found in the top right corner of the entire screen).


3. Import and delete as many or as few photos from your iDevice as you’d like!

Productivity hints:

Command + A is select-all, allowing you to select all of the photos and movies shown.

Pressing Command + mouse left-clicking allows you to select multiple items.

Shift + mouse left-clicking allows you to choose all photos within a range.

That should do it.

At a Honda dealer, feeling like a patient

My 10-year-old Honda has been acting weird lately, like an old, weathered man whose body is starting to fail.

The symptoms that I’ve noticed include: morning gas pedal stiffness (it’s hard to get going when I first start the car), irregular rhythm of the engine (it revs itself like a punk kid at the red light), and spastic jerky movements (it switches gears with big spasms). Some abnormal markers on diagnostic tests also showed up (engine warning light, and a “tcs” light which is a mystic acronym jargon that only the specialists will understand).

I suspect that this constellation of symptoms can actually be attributed to a single cause, or at least commonly occur together as a “sticky gas pedal syndrome”. Like any patient under the age of 60 with a new health concern, I googled the symptoms and found that many others have the same problem. Some suggest that it’s an issue with the throttle able, and offered a website where one can buy a new one, replace it for under $10, and avoid hundreds of dollars of dealership diagnostic and repair fees.

But like a scared patient without a courage to take his health into his own hands, nor any ability to judge the accuracy of such information and advise, I rushed to the Honda dealer as fast I could.

The check in process included an agent asking to see my insurance paper, taking down my contact info, asking me some questions regarding the symptoms my car has, and getting me to wait an hour while the doctors, I mean the technicians do diagnostic tests to figure out the diagnosis. Then I will be called, the diagnosis and treatment options will be explained, I will be confused but too timid to ask questions, and say to them “whatever you think is best, doc.”

The parallelism is striking.

There is a paramount imbalance of knowledge. They know every part of my car, and I barely know how to open its hood. They know how much things cost, which parts last longer, which parts you can get from any repair shop for a fraction of the price they charge. I know nothing. In an hour they can tell me: your engine is toast, you should sell it for parts and buy another, or they can tell me: just the cable getting worn out, it will be $200 total. The most I can do is seek a second opinion with another repair shop, and go through the process again.

In this position, I can only trust that they are legit and at least fair about charging me extra for being the official Honda dealer. They can ask for $200 or $1000, either way I will probably have to pay up. They can be nice and explain things to me, or they can be too busy to slow down. They can do unnecessary tests and cost me a fortune, or they can be judicious and use their experience and judgement.

And I’m just getting my car fixed!

Imagine how scared an powerless you will feel in a big hospital with countless doctors in authoritative white coats rushing about, patients screaming in agony or puking their guts out around you, and never ending ringing of the phone, beeping of unknown medical devices, and calling code-blues overhead, waiting for your loved one to be seen and cared for. The wait, which can be hours, is felt to be even longer because you don’t know how much longer it will be. You don’t know if you can go to the bathroom because you may miss the doctor, you don’t know if it’s safe for your loved one to take a sip of water, and you may not even have an idea what’s wrong with your loved one and if he or she will get better (there is no selling the parts and getting a new car here).

What we as health care professionals can do, is at least be mindful of what our patients and their families are going through. For us, it could be the fifth time being woken up to see someone in the emerge with vague abdominal pain, or yet another patient who doesn’t speak English which makes our job difficult, but for them, we can be their first contact with the medical team after hours of waiting for this very real crisis. It’s easy to forget that and lose patience when the worried family press us for that morphine we said we’d give an hour ago, because it’s up to the nurses to fill our orders. We can say: “talk to your nurse”, or “let me see what I can do for you” and find out what’s holding things up, and perhaps start the IV that the nurse is too busy to get around to do.

Also, we should keep the patients in the loop as much as possible. Update them on what’s going on, what the short term and long term plans are, when they can expect which things to happen, and to check for questions often. Sometimes it seems like our job is to check lab results, check vitals, talk to patients about their pain, bowel, and appetite, and write a progress note. But when I update the patient on an improving lab result that they have been worried about, that could be enough to improve their pain, bowel, appetite, and their day could go so much better.

The hour of diagnostics is up, and they found a dirty throttle body, cleaned it at no cost, and just charged me the diagnostic fee of $75. I’m impressed by their time management, which is more than I can say for many doctors. Of course, patients are not cars, and we can’t always be expected to predict how much time a patient will take as we could for cars. But there are many lessons that we can learn from a good car dealership nevertheless.

Please don’t play mind games with your doctor

I have taken this sad truth as a fact of life: most patients that I interview have an incomplete idea of many crucial aspects of their health. They don’t know what tests have been done, what they are for, what medications they are on, what conditions they have… And the list goes on.

Take for example, several weeks ago I interviewed a relatively well educated and intellectually intact patient, and this is how it roughly went:

Me: sir, what medical conditions do you have?

Patient: nothing, I have been healthy.

Me, knowing any question worth asking once is worth asking twice: any medical problems in the past?

Patient: nope.

Me: ok… What about your heart?

Patient: oh yeah, I had a heart attack and almost died 5 years ago.

So I went through the rest of his body systems one by one to help him remember other things like heart attacks that are generally considered “past medical problems”.

Me: ok, sir, do you take any medications?

Patient: no.

Me: nothing? No medications?

Patient: no.

Me: what about the diabetes and high blood pressure you told me about?

Patient: oh yeah I take metformin, metoprolol, candesartan, aspirin, Lipitor…

Me: orz…

Why did you say “no”? What did you think my question meant before? What if I was less patient or busier, and believed your answers when you so definitely gave them?

I don’t think the patients meant to do this on purpose. Usually it is simply miscommunication or something being lost in the language barrier. And sometimes we are at fault for asking unclear, ambiguous, or misleading questions.

But every so often, I can’t help but imagine a patient must be pulling a prank on me when I take a history. Maybe one day I will ask someone about their surgical history and they will say: “nothing, doc.” “And what’s this beeping in your chest?” “JUST KIDDING! I have a robotic heart! 😀 GOTCHA!!!”

Only in Taiwan

have I seen the following senario so widely accepted to be the norm:

My grandma, who is a happy and pretty healthy 82 year-old, recently had a cough. She has been afebrile, and maintained good hydration and appetite. She has no constitutional symptoms like malaise and weight loss either. Her cough is productive of some yellow phlegm, and it’s been going on for about a week, so she was prescribed some antibiotics and some antitussives, and was asked to follow up in the clinic in 3 days.

Bread and butter primary care, right?

Except she went to a pediatrician‘s office.

And the thing is, I would not have thought twice about this situation a few years ago, because that is really normal in Taiwan where I grew up. There are virtually no family docs (and no patient knows what family docs do even if they see one) on the streets where medical clinics tend to cluster and where patients go see doctors. There is no concept of longitudinal care either; if the doctor in this clinic isn’t helping, patients will go to the next one down the street. (And if all else fails, or if the patients decide the problem is serious enough, they will present to the best tertiary hospital they can get to.)

So that’s what my grandma did after seeing two different pediatricians and still had the cough. She went to an ENT surgeon’s clinic.

Yes. Ear, nose, and throat surgeons who went through years and years of extra surgical training to operate on some of the most vital (airway) and aesthetically important (face) areas of the body are common go-to doctors for mild URTI in Taiwan.

Imagine the hilarity if that happened in Canada. If a 82 year old woman is referred to a pediatrician for a case of mild URTI or bronchitis? Or, heaven forbid, an ENT surgeon? The primary doctor who made the referral would not even be taken seriously enough to be yelled at. The pediatrician’s or ENT’s secretary (or medical office assistant) would probably politely talk to the primary doc’s secretary and ask him or her to check the correct addressee.

Now, this is not a criticism of the patients or the doctors in Taiwan. Both parties are doing what everyone is doing, in a way how everything has been done. In other words, this is the current medical culture of Taiwan, and no one can be faulted for doing things in the most culturally accepted way.

But just because something has always been like that in the past doesn’t mean it should alway be the same in the future. Think about the downside of having streets of medical clinics run by specialists, advertised to be the former attending doctors or even heads of departments of prestigious tertiary hospitals and academic centers, to whom hundreds of ill patients and their worried families present any condition under the sun. The patients have only their understanding of the specialty title to base their self-referral on. “ENT? Sounds like a good doctor for coughing which is kinda in the throat.” “Stomachache? Probably like the ones I had when I was a kid. Let’s see the nice pediatrician who saw little Johnny last week.”

Well, for starters, the specialists would either go mad and burn out (“WHY AM I SEEING 30 CASES OF VIRAL DIARRHEA A DAY AS A COLORECTAL SURGEON!?”) or become content with being a GP. There goes years of intense, valuable specialty training. Also, the patients are probably getting suboptimal care because of their inappropriate self-referral. They can decide that an internist is the best for their child who is vomiting, but the internist may very well not know the complete list of differential diagnoses of pediatric vomiting by heart.

I can probably go on with the problems with the current medical model in Taiwan, but I think you get the idea. The bottom line is, this model probably poses a serious drain on the health care dollar, creates unnecessary confusion and suboptimal care for the patients, and leads to much headaches and burnouts for the doctors.

The big question is, how do we change it?

That, my friend, is a good question. If you can answer it well, you should consider becoming Taiwan’s health minister.

As for me, I just ordered some delish Chinese take out and will be too distracted after the break 🙂

Yum yum yum yum.