In this article a pharmacist who recently navigated the pharmacy residency application process (including phase 2 of the match) identifies a list of top 10 tips for people looking towards pharmacy residency match phase 2.
Authored By: Rachel Britt, Pharm.D.
[Last updated: 17 March 2019]
This year marks the 40thanniversary of the American Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists (ASHP) Residency Match program. For many, Match Day is filled with excitement, celebration, and eager anticipation for the next steps towards their perfect career. For others, Match Day can bring sadness, disappointment, and a fear for the future.
For those who fall into this second camp, I am sorry that your Match Day turned out this way. Not matching to a program after the grueling work of applications, interviews, and rank lists is disheartening. Phase 2 of the match, while offering an organized “second chance” to search for a program, can be daunting. However, while difficult, participating in the Phase 2 Match process is doable, and successful applicants can end up with a phenomenal training experience.
After going through the Phase 2 Match for my PGY1 program, I learned ten key tips for success for navigating through Phase 2. I hope this information may be of assistance to others who find themselves in this position…
1. Know and believe that this does not say anything about you, your academic career, or your quality as a person – both personally and professionally
Failing to match can undoubtedly be a blow to your confidence, but it is important to preach positive self-talk to be able to move through this process. This does NOT define you.
2. Remind yourself of your motivations for completing a residency
Not obtaining a residency is not the end of the world. You can look for jobs or pursue other opportunities. You need to decide how badly you want to pursue residency training and use that determination to drive you through the Phase 2 process. If you are not motivated to do a residency, do not waste your or the program directors’ time and energy.
3. Reach out to your mentor
A strong pharmacy mentor is vital during this process, and if you do not have one, I recommend approaching any preceptors, faculty, and pharmacists that you know for help. These people can offer a lot of valuable insight into the process and can reach out to any contacts they may have at any of the programs that have openings. I relied heavily on my mentors during this time and likely would not have been successful without them.
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4. Let your preceptor know what is going on
Unlike Phase 1, the Phase 2 process takes place over a three week period and requires a lot of dedicated time and energy. If you are currently on rotation, be honest with your preceptor so they can let you have time off if needed. My Phase 2 schedule consisted of 9 interviews in 8 days, and all took place in the middle of the day.
Again, I would not have been as successful without my preceptor’s understanding and support.
5. Start researching the PGY1 programs TODAY
Unfortunately, there is not time to grieve the loss of your dream of matching in Phase 1 if you decide to participate in Phase 2. It is very competitive, and many other applicants will be looking at the same residencies as you.
Check the list of programs participating in Phase 2 and start your research as soon as possible. Decide which program characteristics are must haves and which ones you could go without. Open yourself up to different areas that you did not consider in the first round. Ask your professors, mentors, and colleagues about the reputations of the programs and ask if they have any contacts there that they could reach out to. At any ASHP accredited residency, you will likely have a great training experience, and anyone can live anywhere for a year.
6. Start reaching out to programs TODAY
If you are interested in a program, reach out to their residency program director (RPD) and introduce yourself. Ask one or two questions about something that is not listed on the website, but keep it brief as RPDs will be fielding a lot of communication possibly from hundreds of residency hopefuls. This will show your interest in the program and make yourself known early on, while other applicants may have a delayed start as they weigh their options.
7. Look over your application
Was there something in your application that may have led to this result? Can it be improved? Do you need to ask a new reference for a new letter of recommendation? If anything needs to be changed, it is better to discover this sooner rather than later.
8. Work on your applications now
Once you have identified programs that you want to apply to, start writing letters of intent. Applications should be submitted as soon as possible. Because there is a larger applicant-to-position ratio, many programs close their applications early due to a flood of applications. Therefore, it is important to submit your application as soon as the portal opens if possible.
9. Evaluate your interviewing skills
Have a trusted mentor or preceptor help you to evaluate how you interview. Set up mock interviews with friends for practice and get feedback. All of the interviews will be via phone or Skype, so research tips for interviewing in these settings. Also, you WILL get asked why you think you didn’t match in the first round, so prepare a strong answer.
10. Stay positive!
As unhelpful as it is to think about right now, everything will and does work out. There is not one path to your dream career. I can guarantee that if you ask multiple pharmacists (or people, for that matter), they will tell you that they never could have predicted their career path and are very happy with where they are.
Do whatever you can to dwell on the positive and it will make the Phase 2 Match process much easier.
For additional tips, resources, and Pharmacy Residency Match statistics, see ASHP’s Residency Guide: Preparation for Phase 2 of the Match available here and the National Matching Services website available here.
The Phase 2 Match was one of the hardest times in my career to date, but through the process I learned how determined and resilient I truly am. If you are reading this, you can participate in Phase 2 and end up with a training experience that you will be very pleased with.
I wish you the best of luck!