The Match: Facts and Figures
Pharmacy students who are interested in applying for residency enter into the colloquially termed “Match” program.
Pharmacy students who are interested in applying for residency enter into the colloquially termed “Match” program. Created in 2007, the “Match” is formerly known as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) Resident Matching Program, an online-based job placement platform distributed by the National Matching Services for the placement of pharmacy residency candidates into a postgraduate year 1 (PGY1) or 2 (PGY2) residency program.1-2
Eligible participants are those who have graduated (or anticipate to graduate) from an accredited pharmacy school.1 If eligible, participants are required to sign a binding contract confirming acknowledgement and understanding of the Rules of the ASHP Pharmacy Resident Matching Program. From there, applicants interview at their prospective residency programs (who are also registered through the Match) and rank their desired locations. The programs in turn rank their most favorable candidates. Through a complex algorithm, applicants and programs are matched with emailed results.
This process was previously separated into 2 parts, with the latter commonly known as the “Scramble.” As the name implies, individuals who did not match into a residency program would scramble to beat out other unmatched candidates in finding and obtaining an unfilled position by undergoing a second interview process. However, no rank list was required for this second attempt. This process has since been standardized into Phase I and Phase II of the Match. ASHP announced the transition to a two-phase Match process in 2016 to help ensure that candidates have a second structured opportunity to apply for unfilled positions. Preparation for Phase I of the Match can be a lengthy process for applicants, often starting with the submission of residency applications in December and interviews typically occurring between January and early March. The timeline for Phase II is abbreviated compared to Phase I. Unfilled positions are posted on Match day and applicants then have approximately 2 weeks to submit applications, interview, and rank programs.1
Although the number of new programs (both PGY1 and PGY2) increase steadily each year, the number of candidates have also increased at an unparalleled faster rate. In 2012, for instance, there were 975 PGY1 programs with 2,408 available positions and 468 PGY2 programs with 590 positions for 3,706 and 498 PGY1 and PGY2 candidates, respectively. Comparatively, 1,400 PGY1 programs offered 3,484 positions and 605 PGY2 programs offered 739 positions in 2017; however, these positions were sought by the 4,913 PGY1 candidates and 839 PGY2 candidates who participated in the 2017 Match.
The Phase I Match rate was 66% in 2017, as 3,831 applicants were matched into positions while 1,921 applicants were left unmatched; this was slightly lower than the 2016 Phase I Match rate of 69%, in which 1,776 applicants did not match. Additionally, there remained 392 positions (249 PGY1 and 143 PGY2) unfilled following Phase I of the 2017 Match. Programs with unfilled positions in Phase I may offer positions to unmatched candidates in Phase II of the Match. Additionally, programs that did not initially participate in Phase I may elect to participate in Phase II. The same also applies to applicants who did not participate in Phase I. 1
The 2017 Phase II Match rate was 25.7%, with 304 applicants matching into positions 879 going unmatched. This rate was similar to the 2016 Phase I Match rate of 25.6%, in which 969 applicants did not match. Following Phase II, there remained 82 unfilled positions (21 PGY1 and 61 PGY2). The program types with the most unfilled positions included PGY2 Psychiatry (20 positions), PGY1 Community (11 positions), PGY2 Health-System Pharmacy Administration (13 positions), and PGY2 Ambulatory Care (7 positions). After Phase II, the Post-Match Process (also referred to as the Post-Match Scramble) begins, in which unmatched applicants and programs with unfilled positions are free to contact each other and to negotiate directly with each other independently of the Match to fill available positions. 1
As the number of pharmacy graduates grow yearly, many quality candidates will continue to remain unmatched. The need for more quality postgraduate training programs may be necessary to meet the increasing supply of eligible residency candidates in the near future.3
Cynthia Moreau, PharmD, is assistant professor of Pharmacy Practice. Genevieve M. Hale, PharmD, BCPS, is assistant professor of Pharmacy Practice. Tina Joseph, PharmD, BCACP, is assistant professor of Pharmacy Practice. All 3 authors work at Nova Southeastern University College of Pharmacy and are members of the Accountable Care Organization Research Network, Services, and Education (ACORNSEED).
- National Matching Services, Inc. ASHP residency matching program. natmatch.com/ashprmp. Accessed March 31, 2017.
- Crunch M. Securing and Excelling in a Pharmacy Residency. Burlington, MA: Jones & Barlett Learning, LLC; 2013. books.google.com/books?id=ogkQiMF7ZgoC&pg=PA50&lpg=PA50&dq=history+of+the+pharmacy+residency+match&source=bl&ots=FVwIjrowoK&sig=SLbIZKS0DN_fgGQmdXSo_1K3I00&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiP1p7b0oHTAhXGNiYKHV0NCzE4ChDoAQgZMAA#v=onepage&q=history%20of%20the%20pharmacy%20residency%20match&f=false. Accessed March 31, 2017.
- Alexander KM, Burchette JE, Cluck D, Smithgall S. Observations from the Phase II Match: Impact on Student Residency Candidates. Am J Pharm Educ. 2016 Oct 25; 80(8): 144.