Your Body Resume
Contributed by Suzanne L. Dibble, registered nurse
Why a Body Resume?
Imagine if during a job interview you were asked to verbally run down every position you've ever had, complete with dates, locations and titles as well as your accomplishments going back to grade school. What a challenge! This is why resumes were invented. They summarize all that information in one place so that an employer can get a basic idea of the job applicant's background.
Your body resume, though not designed for job seeking, serves a similar purpose for your health. It's a time saver for you and your provider that can increase the quality of your care, enabling the two of you to discuss your most important health issues in depth.
What is a Body Resume?
A body resume is a clear and accurate summary of your medical conditions and current medications. It is modeled after the normal sequence for a routine medical history and should be given to your doctor or nurse. Like a resume, it's short on narrative and long on bullet points, abbreviations and dates. Your personal body resume will not only save you time filling out forms when seeing your doctor, it can also reduce medical errors.
What Do I Include in My Body Resume?
The following are the basic topics for a Body Resume:
- Name and Date of Birth
- Medical History A basic rundown of yourself including allergies, childhood diseases, current illnesses, history of smoking, alcohol and drug use, past episodes of such things as headaches, gastrointestinal problems, depression or arthritis.
- Surgical History Anything from biopsies to brain surgery, with notations if there were healing problems or other complications.
- Accidents Broken bones, sports injuries and major car accidents, with dates (approximate is fine).
- Screenings Dates and outcomes of important lab tests, such as cholesterol or PSA (prostate-specific antigen, for men over 50). If normal, just put down WNL (doctor's shorthand for "within normal limits"). Dates and results of mammograms, colonoscopies and pap smears also belong here.
- Safety History List whether you regularly use a seat belt or helmet and if you have smoke detectors in your house. Note if you own a gun.
- Social History List your current relationship status (single or partnered, and for how long), your current job and who lives in your household. Note whether you've been a recreational drug user or addict, alcohol-dependent, or both.
- Exercise History Type, length and frequency of your workouts, if any.
- Eating History Note whether you eat a balanced diet. List any medications you have used to control your diet and any diets you have used to lose weight.
- Medications List your current prescriptions and past immunizations as well as any herbs, over-the-counter supplements and vitamins you take.
- OB/GYN History Women should include number of pregnancies, abortions, miscarriages and live births; age of first menstruation; regularity of periods; history of birth control and hormone replacement therapy use, and other gynecological issues.
- Family History Try to collect information on specific medical problems, lifestyle habits, medications and allergies for each member of four generations: your children, your siblings and their children, your parents, and your grandparents on both sides.
UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.