The pharmacy profession is expanding into a diverse array of specialties and practice models which are changing the role and perception of the traditional pharmacist. In addition, pharmacy residencies are in high demand and pharmacy students are highly encouraged to pursue these residencies upon graduation. Clinical pharmacy clubs hold talks, practice interviews, and residency symposiums to introduce and prepare students to these residency programs. However, students may not feel well prepared for the application process and interview.
I remember walking into the residency symposium at California Society of Health-System Pharmacists (CSHP) where prospective residents meet current residents and directors to learn about residency programs. My first impression was that it was stuffy, over-packed, and far too busy. The room was filled with more students than there were available programs. In front of each program table were five to six students waiting for a few minutes of a resident or director’s attention.
Many students already had lists of “good questions to ask” gathered from internet resources in hopes of impressing the directors and residents at the symposium. Some students overlooked the fact that these questions are just as easily accessible to the directors and residents as they are to students. Therefore, these questions are not as impactful as many students believe. Having an organic conversation with a potential director or current resident seemed hard to come by. The notion that asking the same contrived questions is the way to stand out is misleading and not the best strategy.
There is understandably a great deal of stress when applying for a residency program. The application process is very detailed and requires dedication and time. The fear of rejection or not matching is also always looming. Unfortunately, many pharmacy schools do not prepare students for the residency application process.
After experiencing the residency approval process and successfully landing a residency I am compelled to offer some helpful tips to help students develop a personal and professional connection with residency staff, recognize a potential residency match, and select the right residency program.