Turkeys are frying, posters are printing, and pharmacy students and residents everywhere are getting ready for ASHP Midyear. While the location rotates on a yearly basis, the excitement and frenzy around Midyear never change. Primarily because this is the one meeting that either makes or breaks your pursuit of pharmacy residency training. The main events for residency interviews are split into PPS (Personal Placement Service) and a gauntlet known as “The Showcase.” Let’s get you prepared to nail your showcase interviews with these 5 tips for a successful showcase at ASHP Midyear.
Know the program
It may sound obvious, but do some research into the programs you’re interested in. ASHP has a wonderful directory of all the residency programs in the United States. Most of which will even link to the programs’ individual website with additional information. Become familiar with the program, its core curriculum, current, and past residents and some general information about the hospital. Just by doing your homework, you’ll find you can answer most of your questions before showing up. This will free you to be able to spend those valuable moments asking relevant, important, and most importantly, memorable questions.
Don’t ask what a typical day is like
First of all, there is no typical day. Furthermore, literally everyone asks this question and it also happens to be least relevant. The reason being is that what you really want to know is how much work are you going to have to do. Just by doing your homework (aka knowing the program), you’ll discover more important questions.
Some of the best questions are truly genuine questions that show both specific interest in the program as well as your own initiative and drive. Some of the best include relating research you’ve done to some aspect of daily practice in the given institution. From there, you can follow up with discussing how you came up with your research idea, and whether that pathway is encouraged at the program. In essence, you have a conversation – not a game show.
Find common ground (interests)
By doing research, knowing the program and planning for what you really want to know, you’ll find the “interview” becomes a conversation. A natural back and forth is both refreshing and memorable. As I mentioned above, finding common ground on research can help you out in this department. But it can be a useful tool for everything from making sure you are a good fit with the program to whether the town/city the residency is in is a great place to spend the next year of your life. The magic of human conversation takes over and you may end up getting more information from a candid preceptor/RPD/resident than you would from someone just going through the motions.
The showcase is sometimes called “The Hunger Games.” The moment the door opens for the particular session, thousands of pharmacy students in unique, yet identical professional attire race towards their desired programs. Naturally, the big-name residencies with status affirming retail space fill up fast. This means that there will be a crowd you may have to fight through in order to actually speak to someone. While some strategic mapping of the floor plan can help you meet with other programs while the herd disperses, if you are inclined to be first: please be courteous and mindful that there are others waiting to speak with the given program.
Also, if someone looks stressed, be a good person. Help them out – we’re all in this together.
Had a PPS interview before or after?
If you are also doing PPS, it is a good idea to establish another contact point with the program. If you have a PPS interview AFTER the showcase, it would be a good idea to drop off your CV ahead of time and say a quick hello. That’s all. If you had a PPS interview BEFORE, show up with some follow up questions, or also a quick hello.
The last word on The Showcase at ASHP Midyear
I’ve been on both sides of The Showcase for years. I would like to call myself somewhat of an expert since I was able to successfully match and secure both of my residency years. But I’m also aware that this is an N=1. Reach out to mentors, friends, colleagues to ask what their experience was, and what advice they may be able to give to you. From there, you can establish a wide range of experiences that will hopefully lead to an amazing start to your professional life.
Just remember, when a student or resident asks you sometime down the road, pay it forward and help them out. You may have your own 5 tips for a successful showcase at ASHP Midyear to pass on.