Tip for upcoming 4th years students for residency matching

Discussion in 'Pharmacy Residencies and Fellowships' started by Farcus, May 1, 2012.

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  1. Farcus

    Farcus 7+ Year Member

    Nov 28, 2007
    My Bed
    For the people who matched and the people who didn't match, do you guys have any advice through the 4th year on how to make yourself more competitive and marketable for a lack of better word. Also if you guys have any "if I could of done it over again I would of ..." moments that you'd like to share.

    I have picked some pretty intense rotation, with the only one near a "fluff" being rural medicine or i guess you can call it ambulatory (but i have an ambulatory already so...).

    So what should one do on the rotation and off the rotation to prepare for this final year?
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  3. mustang sally

    mustang sally 10+ Year Member

    Feb 22, 2007
    The middle of nowhere
    -Keep a little diary of all of the interventions you make so you will have good anecdotes to talk about on interviews (it's easy to forget the details over time).
    -Try to find as many unique or interesting projects to get involved with as possible (good for both your CV and interview fodder)
  4. bacillus1

    bacillus1 7+ Year Member

    May 27, 2008
    See if anyone at your school can help you with interview preparation.
  5. Rutgers13


    Mar 20, 2012
    I applied to 2 programs, got 2 interviews, and matched at my 1st choice.

    Residencies are becoming more and more competitive- more applicants every year competing for a limited number of positions.

    Programs seem to be weeding out applicants based on GPA and their CV.
    I know several students who thought they did a great job at making good impressions at Midyear but didn't get an interview at those places. The main reason is that so many applicants are applying and the only way institutions can meet their deadlines is to weed out students - the 2 easiest ways are GPA and CV.

    Advice for Midyear:
    #1 = Don't stress too much about Midyear. People are going to say a lot of things that will stress you out, just don't worry too much! It's almost impossible to standout among the thousands of students there. Make sure you leave your name/email on their mailing list and have a copy of your CV if they are asking for it. Midyear is mostly for you to get information about the programs and it seems like less for the programs to get information about you. Do your best to leave a good impression, but don't stress about it.

    Have a set of questions prepared to help you weed through the many different residency programs. I weeded out many programs for example with this question - "I have a strong interest in pursuing a PGY2 in critical care. Can you tell me about what your institution has to offer in terms of critical care rotations?" The people at Midyear are honest and they would tell me that I would be a better fit at another institution.

    Make sure your CV is polished. Seriously- the only thing these programs will see is your CV. Make sure it is in the appropriate format and that there are no spelling errors, grammatical errors, or formatting/spacing errors. Short, sweet, informative, and concise. You don't need 8 pages for them to be impressed. I used standard CV/Resume paper.

    Have fun at Midyear - how often do you get to go to New Orleans or Vegas? But don't have too much fun because the whole city is crawling with residents, preceptors, and directors.

    Advice for applying to programs:
    Make sure you apply to local programs (programs you have done rotations in) in addition to any other programs you wish to apply to. I know students who only applied out of state (out of NJ) to places like Cali and the Midwest. Even though these students had good GPAs and good clinical rotations, they didn't Match- despite flying out to Cali and interviewing. You will be most competitive in programs that are familiar with you, but don't be afraid to apply to programs far away- have back ups.

    Make sure that you have a strong letter of intent that is also very polished. You need to say why you are pursuing a residency. Why you are pursuing a residency at that particular institution (what really stands out about that place). What you can bring to the table that other students can't. It's okay to brag sometimes. Again- simple and sweet. You don't need 3 pages talking about how you knew you wanted to be a pharmacist since you were 5 years old.

    Also make sure that the program doesn't require additional forms to be filled out - applications can often be found online. Some students I know forgot about this requirement and never got the interview (another easy weed out tool).

    You can list up to 10 programs for the match, but keep in mind how stressful 6 or 7 interviews will be and how hard it might be to get people to write you multiple letters of recommendation for 7 programs. Programs often have different requirements for letters of recommendation so this can be a headache for letter writers if they have to write 5 versions of the same letter for you. But don't let this limit the number of programs you apply to, if you feel like you need to apply to 7 programs then do it. If you feel like you are a stronger candidate then 3 or 4 of your top choices is very reasonable.

    Advice for rotations:
    Take challenging clinical rotations - it will pay off on your CV, during your interviews when they ask you about interventions you have made, and presentation they ask you to give, or if they have a patient case quiz that they give you. Clinical preceptors also make the best letter of recommendation writers. Therefore take clinical rotations early on and don't be afraid to ask for the letters of recommendation. I was always very shy about asking for them and when it came time to apply for residency I had to run around asking them anyway and by that time they already forgot about a lot of the things I did for them on rotation.

    Schdeuling your interviews:
    **Try to schedule your off cycle to be around February - March so you have adequate time to prepare for interviews. I know many students who had to take time off during pretty intense rotations (oncology, ICU, etc.) to fly to other states for interviews. It's stressful! Plan ahead for February and March to be busy with residency applications and presentations.

    Schedule the residency you want the most as your last interview and a residency you aren't sure of as your first interview. Use the other interviews as practice to prepare for residencies that you really want the most. After 1 or 2 interviews you'll be a pro.

    Advice for interviews:

    Bring an updated version of your CV.
    Give your clinical rotation projects (patient cases, seminars) your all because you can often use them as presentations to give during interviews.

    Be prepared to answer general questions
    -Why do you want to do a residency?
    -Why do you want to do a residency here?
    -What are your short-term/long-term career goals (where do you see yourself in the next 5 years)?
    -Name an intervention you made that had a big impact
    -How you would handle conflict
    -How would you speak to a physician who wanted to use a drug you disagreed with or wants to add a new drug to formulary

    Be prepared to answer personal questions (They want to make sure you have a good personality that they can get along with)
    -What do you do for fun
    -Most embarrassing moment

    Try to have answers to these basic questions prepared and practice them, but try to not sound too rehearsed when saying them.
  6. rxlea

    rxlea Almost a unicorn Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    Thank you!
  7. Farcus

    Farcus 7+ Year Member

    Nov 28, 2007
    My Bed

    Thanks a lot man!

    Not so much a tip but one of our professor tells us that this year ASHP will be using a new system for residency similar to PharmCAS and it'll be up and running September - October. I don't know how legit the info is but he tells us he been talking to people at ASHP and other program directors and that is what they all tell him.

    Any other advices?
  8. ADN1226

    ADN1226 Class of 2012! 7+ Year Member

    May 21, 2006
    Theres a lot of good advices already

    I highly echo the same advice:

    1. CV - keep it updated - fill it out right after each block, I also recommend making a summary of any presentations / projects you're going to list so that you can review it prior to the interviews since they may ask about it. Doing it during the rotations will keep things fresh and saves you the work when its application time.

    2. Intervention list - Also what the other poster said, keep a list of interventions, especially memorable ones - write out what happened, what was your role, what you learned from it. Did you have a conflict with a resident or attending? how did you resolve it. I had a lot of situational questions that I answered using experiences during APPE so if you keep a list of it, it'll be easier to draw back to these situations to answer the questions. I used this for situational questions to keep in mind when interviewing: http://wilkes.edu/Include/academics/pharmacy/PharmInterviewQuestions2009.pdf

    3. Have a good idea of who you want to ask for LORs, if you want to pursue a pgy2 in a specialty, it'll be good to get a LOR from that preceptor. Basically, know who you want to ask, make sure they're the type of person that will meet deadlines for you, and do amazing on these APPEs. It'll also be good to know who these preceptors know b/c that will come up if you apply to their alma mater or they did residency there... it IS a lot of who you know.

    4. Regional showcases - a lot of regions will do a residency showcase before the ASHP one, def go to it if your program is there, its smaller, easier to talk to people and get to know the programs. They WILL likely remember you when you see them again at ASHP, making 2 impressions! A lot of my classmates went to the regional one and only stopped by briefly at ASHP... you don't have that much time at ASHP (b/c theres SO many programs available to see) so no need to spend a lot of time at the same program if you got all your questions answered at the regional showcase. Because the regional showcases are earlier than the ASHP midyear, its also good to start researching the programs you're interested in early and have your CV ready to go by the regional showcase.

    Lastly when its closer to the application period it will be stressful! Ask questions on SDN! I found it to be very helpful to reach out to SDNers. Having gone through the process already, its not terrible, if you do a lot of these things mentioned above throughout your rotations, you will have less work to do once the application period comes.

    @Farcus - I heard the same thing, a new system that everyone will complete for all programs... just makes me wonder if there will be more supplemental applications similar to applying to pharmacy school...
  9. confettiflyer

    confettiflyer Did you just say something? 10+ Year Member

    Dec 19, 2004
    Best Coast
    Good for you youngins applying next year, the paperwork shuffle was annoying with each program requiring different things in different formats. Good thing I only applied to 2 programs, otherwise the paperwork itself would just be ridiculous.

    Transcripts alone would set you back $30-$80 depending on the # of applications.

    I'm all about electronic everything.

    Plus, paying $100+ for a crappy sh*t match website was annoying, at least the $40 in PharmCAS paid for pretty much everything.
  10. joetrisman

    joetrisman 5+ Year Member

    The pharmcas type thing sounds wayyyyy better.

    Thanks for the advice all!
  11. ChicagoPharmD

    ChicagoPharmD 5+ Year Member

    Jan 22, 2011
    +++ to all above advice

    Also, look for a few unique opportunities. Able to get in on some research? Even just as data collection or entry? Do a unique presentation to other services as well - new guidelines perhaps? On a community rotation can you organize some community event, brown bag session, etc?

    When giving the info for LOR to LOR writers, give them something to go on - what is it that you like about the program? What makes you a good fit? They will likely use this in their letter.

    Be sure to "know" your CV. Anything on there is fair game for discussion during interview. That random presentation you gave on therapeutic hypothermia ten months ago? Be prepared to answer questions about it.

    Speaking of CV - have people review it. Friends, classmates, faculty members. Get several opinions before you go and change everything - each person will have a slightly different take and you want to consider all opinions before changing it. Save each old version of your CV, too, just in case.
  12. cycloketocaine

    cycloketocaine 7+ Year Member

    Aug 7, 2006
    The Boonies
    The system is called PhORCAS and will be available next cycle.
  13. rxlea

    rxlea Almost a unicorn Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

  14. pharm B

    pharm B Phar Noir Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor 7+ Year Member

    Jul 11, 2008
    Out to Pasture
    Rocket Scientist
    hSDN Member
    hSDN Alumni
    Thanks! Does anyone know if the presentation on this is available as a pdf? Couldn't find it.
  15. charlesx73

    charlesx73 Locutus of Borg 5+ Year Member

    Oct 23, 2007
    Mud Island TN

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