Didn’t match last year and are reapplying to pharmacy residencies? Use your experience to your advantage and don’t forget to lean on your friends.

There’s no secret that if you want to work in a hospital setting, you need to have at least a PGY1 residency. The job market is simply too competitive in most urban settings, that one additional year of training will get your foot in the door. Unfortunately, the odds are simply not in your favor of landing that first-year residency. Year after year the ASHP Match statistics show that roughly for every 1 available position, there are 2 candidates. In ‘popular’ programs, there could be 10-15 candidates apply for every 1 available slot. So if you find yourself on the outside looking in after the Match, don’t give up. Let’s go over how to improve your chances when reapplying to pharmacy residencies.

Use your experience to your advantage

If you were able to get at least a part-time job after graduating this is wonderful news. From your real-world experience, you can demonstrate how you are a MORE ideal candidate than some green student. One of the biggest concerns when brining new resident pharmacist onboard is the time it’s going to take to get them up to speed. By demonstrating you are a capable, independent pharmacist who is able to work with various essential technologies (Pyxis, Epic, etc), and tasks (technician management, order verification), the program will know they can get to the real training faster. Nobody likes to have to do remediation on order verification. 

Apply where you work

The best-case scenario is that you already work in a setting that has a residency. Provided that you’ve been a stellar pharmacist thus far, the residency program would find you an attractive resident. Primarily since you’re a sure thing. 

Many programs have to take huge chances for residency candidates that they may have only a few hours and a gestalt for fitting their grades, experience, and interview into a box. With you, they have weeks, months or even a year of knowing what kind of colleague you are. 

It’s all about connections

You may not have landed a residency, but some of your friends may have. Learn from their experiences in landing a position and get inside information about their programs. Maybe they landed a position that was under your radar but sounds pretty good. Or they go the spot you were hoping for but hate their lives now. But most importantly, you’ve now got a friend on the inside. 

 

You may have heard the saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” In my experience, this is very representative of professional job hunting. But I have another version that I think is better suited to pharmacy residencies: “it’s not who you know, it’s how you know them.” Having someone on the inside, be it a resident or former preceptor, can significantly increase your chances of success this time around.

Learn from your experience

There’s no harm in reaching out to programs that turned you down. Particularly if you do it in a professional fashion. Having an understanding of where you fell short the first time, and where you could improve to be a more attractive candidate is incredibly valuable information. Naturally, there are some that may find these requests, somewhat awkward. Consider yourself lucky you DIDN’T match with them. Put yourself in their shoes: if you had someone reach-out in a courteous manner, asking how they could improve themselves to be a better candidate, how would you react?

Here’s an example: 

Dear Dr. xxxxx

Thank you for the opportunity to interview for the PGY1/2 residency position. While I am disappointed to not have successfully matched with your program, I am rededicating my efforts to this postgraduate training by gaining further experience this year by working at XXX hospital as a staff pharmacist. While I continue to work on essential pharmacist skills, I am taking on additional projects and committee work to further my abilities. 

Provided I continue to gain valuable experience this year, I intend on pursuing a residency position next year. I would appreciate any advice on how I could improve my skills or interview performance.

Sincerely,

Your name here.

Please don’t just copy and past that. If you can’t figure out how to change it sufficiently, please just email/tweet/facebook/Instagram/LinkedIn me.

 

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