Another Match Day has come and gone, but it is never too early for next year’s candidates to start thinking about where they would like to pursue a residency.
Another Match Day has come and gone, but it is never too early for next year’s candidates to start thinking about where they would like to pursue a residency. Because this decision can have a major effect on your career, there are many factors you should consider to ensure that you are set up for success. Most students know to look into rotational experiences, teaching opportunities, mentorship, staff, patient population, and leadership opportunities, but there are also other, more practical matters that you should keep in mind when researching residency programs.
Unfortunately for potential residents, a residency salary is not quite comparable with that of other pharmacy positions. If you plan on moving, make sure to look at the cost of living in your new area. It may sound tempting to work in New York City or Honolulu for a year, but living on a residency salary in those cities would be very difficult without some extra help.
Don’t forget about your support system either. If your parents or significant other provide you with daily support, being close to them may be a priority. Your residency year will come with difficult experiences and challenges, and having the right people there for you will be important.
These may be a little hard to evaluate before accepting a position, but if, say, you have a chronic health condition, it is important to research the health insurance and other benefits offered by a residency. Keep in mind that some medications you take may be more expensive under a program’s health care plan or not covered at all. Additionally, some employers may not provide dental or vision; if you wear glasses or contact lenses, this benefit is something to consider as well.
Many residency programs can provide more information about benefits if you request it, so be sure to reach out if this factor concerns you.
3. Loan Repayment
Nobody likes to think about loans, but they are going to hit you 6 months after graduation. Look at your loan options and the cost of repayment ahead of time because you do not want to default on your loans. Many can be deferred through residency, but double-check with your loan provider to be sure.
Even if you defer your loans, interest is still going to accrue. Consider paying off some of your loans as you go, even if it the payments go just to interest. You should have an idea of how much extra cash you’re going to have lying around once you evaluate a city’s affordability.
4. Small Perks
There are also minor factors to consider that may not make or break your decision but could still push things one way or another if 2 programs are very close in all the major areas. Some of these might include free parking on-site, a laptop, off-site access to electronic medical records, comp days for working weekends, and even a monthly cafeteria stipend.
You shouldn’t necessarily base your choice on these perks, but they may make your residency year run more smoothly.
It is often said during interviews that “you’re interviewing us just as much as we are interviewing you.” It is true: These are individuals with whom you will work for the next year or two. These health care practitioners will teach you, guide you, and help you grow during this crucial period of your career. You want to make sure you are a fit with these potential teammates and can truly learn from them.
The people you are surrounded by will define your residency experience more than perhaps any other factor, so make sure you choose the right team.
Anne Leighty is a 2018 PharmD candidate at the Butler University College of Pharmacy & Health Services in Indianapolis, Indiana.