Perserverance After Match Day Uncertainty Leads to Opportunity

Pharmacy Careers, Pharmacy Careers Spring 2020, Volume 14, Issue 1

Match day can be one of the most uplifting, validating, and encouraging of days.

Rejected.

You were told in words that were meant to encourage but, ultimately, conveyed the crushing reality: You’re not our top choice. Thanks for the interest in us, but we’re not that interested in you.

Match day can be one of the most uplifting, validating, and encouraging of days. When countless hours of hard work, tears, mental energy, physical perspiration, and diligence come to fruition, you have just proved yourself to be worthy not only of a degree but also a shrinking number of positions that will help you advance yourself into a specialty field and set you apart from the masses.

However, match day also can be one of the most soul-wrenching, ego-deflating, and invalidating of days for those who are denied entrance to the club. Emma Leffler’s story (below) discusses how she reframed her experience of rejection into one of growth.

As opportunities in all sectors of the pharmacy industry decrease, and possibly become more limited as time marches on, Leffler’s story is one that has been echoed by hundreds—if not thousands—of others already, and it might become more commonplace in the years to come.

By Emma Leffler, PharmD

On Match Day for pharmacy residencies, a full spectrum of emotions is exhibited by student and professional pharmacists nationwide. Congratulations to those who matched—hooray! We are all so proud of you, and we are excited to see how you all blossom in your roles throughout this next year.

However, after I was devastated by not being offered any fellowships this time last year, my dreams for my postgraduation aspirations were crushed. “We regret to inform you that you did not match to a position” were the words that created a darkness in my life.

If you’ve heard these words, please do not let them create such negativity in your life. Use it as motivation to find your purpose and seize new opportunities that have opened to you. There is hope, guidance, and reassurance for those who do not receive a match. You are still incredible, and you will find a place that brings joy and fulfillment to your life. This place is yet to be discovered, and that is OK.

After the phase I rejection, the preparation for phase II begins, and thereafter the scramble to find placement. Timing is everything. Reflect your true career aspirations. Does residency training provide you the experience and connections to pursue your pharmacy career dream? Will you journey to a different region of the state or country to explore unexpected practice sites or specialties? If the answer is ‘no,’ finish the year strong.

Regardless, seek as much advice as you can. You have built a network of pharmacy connections throughout your time in school, at your workplace, and in your organizations. Let those who wrote your recommendation letters know about this new opportunity to apply for other residencies, and update them on the tight timeline. These mentors will be great resources and advocates for you during this time. Reach out to your previous rank-list program directors to see how you can increase your

chances for a match in the next phases. You will discover new perspectives on how to improve for the next phase from those on the other side of the table.

Research the residency positions available and determine the right fit for you. This position will be a year or more of your training, career, and life. Pursue an opportunity only if you believe it aligns with your aspirations.

Numerous opportunities will open for you in the future, so stay positive and ambitious, and be proud of yourself. The journey to discovering your new path is frightening and can fill you with anxiety. However, always remember that everything happens for a reason.

I pursued fellowships, phase I, phase II, and the final scramble with no matches. Yet I never gave up. Then, as if the stars had aligned, a resident position opened in July, and I interviewed a final time. I received the position as a PGY1 community pharmacy resident at Med-World Pharmacy in Oklahoma.

I hope my journey provides guidance, advice, and hope to those of you who may be going through the same uncertainty as I did. To those struggling to obtain a match, please reach out for help. Numerous people guided me, and I would like to do the same.

EMMA LEFFLER, PHARMD, has continued her pharmacy journey at Med-World Pharmacy following completion of the PGY1 residency. She serves as a clinical community pharmacist, compliance officer, preceptor, and the IPOR site coordinator. Leffler also conducts weekly Medicare wellness visits in a rural medical clinic and serves as the southcentral regional director of communications for the professional pharmacy fraternity Phi Delta Chi.

GARY KEIL, PHD, RPH, is a board member for the Pharmacy Leadership and Education Institute. A registered pharmacist for 29 years, he earned his RPh at the University of Wyoming and a PhD in neuropharmacology at Oregon State University.