Winning Tips for Residency Applicants from an Interviewer
Beth Lofgren, PharmD, BCPS, received her PharmD degree from the University of Tennessee at Memphis in 1999, after completing a BS at the University of Tennessee at Martin. She started her pharmacy career in retail and has practiced in home health, long-term care, and hospital pharmacy. She has also been blogging as the Blonde Pharmacist since 2004, focusing on education for peers and provider status for pharmacists.
Securing a PGY1 requires pharmacy students to be prepared.
Pharmacy students in their last year of pharmacy school are in the midst of the busiest time of year, the PGY1 residency match. Not only are pharmacy students busy, but we are busy as clinical pharmacists prepping for another year of deciding who will be in our programs. Last year, there were 4864 total pharmacy students looking to fill with 3332 total positions.
How can you stand out from the crowd looking for a residency?
Do not make the mistake of giving answers that you would find if you Googled the question. Be authentic. I would much rather hear a real answer than the stereotypical answer that can be viewed as very neutral. You have to stand-out somehow and not only are your grades and CV important, but your personality has to come through somehow.
Research the program and know the strengths and even the weaknesses. You will know if you are competitive for a particular program just by landing the interview. Make me remember you! Practice ahead of time with a mock interview and practice how you will answer questions. Also, have a couple of questions to ask the interviewer(s).
Make a good first impression with professional attire, comfortable eye contact, and a firm handshake. If you do not know an answer should you get a question on something clinical that you are unaware of, we may be also judging how you handle pressure. Be honest you don’t know and maybe even tell me where you would look for the answer. I can tell you that I do not know the answer to everything in my day-to-day job, but I can tell you where to look and even how to look.
Reach out to the current pharmacy residents and ask them questions. They can give you all kinds of insider information! You may find out you would be a good fit by what they say or a bad fit and not even consider ranking a program. Remember, you are interviewing them just as we are interviewing you.
Networking is not only important in finding a job in pharmacy today, it is also important in landing an interview for a residency. Hopefully you have already started early and took the whole process seriously with grades and building your CV, but if your past isn’t as strong as you had hoped, networking can maybe send you to the next level.
Do not forget to write thank you notes as soon as you can. Even if you do not plan on ranking a particular program, it is a professional touch that is memorable. You may need to network later, after all!
Good luck to all the P4s heading into the match this Spring!