You have been working towards Match Day for a while, but once it is over where do you go next?
With the interviews completed, the tedious wait for Match Day results begins. You have been working towards Match Day for a while, but once it is over where do you go next?
When the excitement of the match is over, the NAPLEX still looms on the horizon. Start your preparations today for this big benchmark to enter the workforce as a pharmacist. Now is the time to prepare for graduation, licensure, and the transition to becoming a pharmacist.
Should I take Match Day off?
Match Day is a high-stress day so it may be a good idea to arrange with your preceptor to come in another day or take the day off. This takes the pressure of rotation away from that day, and you can focus on enjoying your match or prepare for a second match. If you like to stay busy, then going to rotation may be the best option for you. Remember, this is a very happy or very sad day, so know where your support system can be reached. Enjoy the moment or activate your contingency plan.
You will receive notification by email—then what do you do?
Remember to breathe. Read the email, and make a plan. Your program should reach out to you with their next steps in the process.
Don’t forget to finish your current student rotations strong—pharmacy is a small world.
Learn as much as you can in preparation for your boards and residency.
What type of information might my program need from me before I start?
Emails will begin to populate your inbox regarding start dates, orientation, health benefits etc. Set your email screener as “important” from the match program. Make a note of any forms or licensure deadlines. Your program may reach out to you regarding elective rotations choices and residency research projects. If you don’t have a project in mind already, this is a good time to gather your ideas. Your program may already have projects planned for their goals, so your selections should not be set in stone. Be flexible.
What if I have questions?
As a new pharmacist and a resident, you will have questions. Become familiar with the resources available at your job site. Can these resources be added to your phone or accessed offsite? You may still have access to resources from college, but you may not. It is important to know where to find answers to your questions efficiently and effectively. Don’t forget pharmacists with more experience than yourself are a great resource as well. Everyone was a newbie once!
Another good idea is to find a comfortable space at work. Maybe this is your residency office, but it could be a quiet floor or a medical library. Become familiar with your job site so you can be more confident at work.
What do I wear?
A white coat? Scrubs? Business professional? A combination of these may be appropriate ,but your company dress code can provide you with these answers. A safe bet is to dress business professional. Remember your attire may change with the rotation so match your attire to the staff, site policy, or rotation. Always remember your name tag and adjust the rest as you find you need.
Do you need to get licensed in another state? More than one state?
If you haven’t looked at the requirements from the board of pharmacy for the state you are planning on getting a license in, you need to start now. Boards of pharmacy take time to process your information and complete your application. If proof of intern hours is required, request your school of pharmacy to send the required forms to the Board of Pharmacy. Any delay in forms or materials for licensure may cause a delay in your selection of a test date for the NAPLEX or law exam. Test dates fill up fast! Being licensed before you start or soon after arrival at the match site may impact your initial rotation experience. If you are a licensed pharmacist, you will increase your ability to glean the most out of your orientation rotation experience.
Where can I find law study materials for a different state than my own?
You can reach out to the current residents and or your residency program director. Ask if they have any law study materials or can put you in touch with someone who does. Another option is reaching out to the pharmacy law professor at any pharmacy schools in the state. Often you can purchase law course materials. Either way, you must be ready to begin your new position with the law requirements met.
How do I keep in touch with my school and classmates?
The easiest way is to get involved with or get to know your college of pharmacy alumni network. Early involvement with your pharmacy school activities will foster networking with colleagues before and after graduation. Networking is important especially in a small world like pharmacy. Your pharmacy class is a group of newly graduated pharmacists who you already have an established connection with, so keep in contact. Keeping active through your alumni association can help build your network and keep you engaged. You are building a new professional life, so remember when you get to your match site, get involved! The best way to connect with your new local colleagues is by involvement in their local pharmacy associations. The local resident programs will usually host residency mixers and meet-and-greets, initially and throughout the year. Go to these gatherings and meet your new colleagues.
Personal things to get in order
How do I find a place to live in my new residency city?
This is a good question for the current residents of your program or residency director. They can often give you advice about the area you are moving into and some good living locations.
Should I update my address?
Yes! If you are moving after graduation you want to make sure you update your address so important documents can still find their way to you through the mail. It is especially important to have your address up to date with the board of pharmacy, your college (if you get your diploma through the mail), and any other important services such as banking information or bills.
Can I still use my school email after graduation?
It depends, as some schools allow you to retain email addresses after graduation. You may want to check with the IT department at your school. Your best option is to establish a new email. Choose a new email address to communicate professionally. A good template is firstname.lastname@example.org. Your new workplace will also assign a new email address.
All of these new career decisions can be scary and unsettling. The decisions and changes are manageable if you are organized, have a plan and start preparing now. During the last six or eight years, many of you have been living at home or close by, with a strong support system. This support system is often lost or at a distance as you transition into your residency program. Suddenly, you will be almost expected to perform as a seasoned pharmacist.
The expectations of a student to a resident pharmacist will be much different. Your peers will expect you to assume this new role with calm assurance, which you will not, but, you will do better than you perceive yourself. The feeling of being overwhelmed is normal. Once you are licensed, many professionals will interact and expect YOU to provide solutions to various problems, as if you had been doing the job for years. Step back, you’ve got this! You are now a licensed Doctor of Pharmacy—albeit a nervous resident.
Enjoy your residency experience and learn, learn, learn!
Jerry Barbee, Jr, PharmD, BCPS, CPh, is a clinical hospital pharmacist in Pensacola, Florida.
Emily Bilas, PharmD, PGY-1 resident and is a clinical hospital pharmacist in Pensacola, Florida.