So it’s the night before The Match and I know you must be feeling a million emotions at once. Some of these may be excitement and relief that the wait is almost over but I know from personal experience the most overwhelming feelings can be the fear and anxiety of not matching. I’ve been through that too, so I got you. Below is a Q&A blog post where I answer all of your latest questions submitted to my Instagram and of course I am linking you to all my other resources related to The Match and Phase II. So for now read this post, soak in how far you’ve come in your pharmacy career so far, and go to bed tonight knowing that everything happens for a reason and you will end up exactly where you are meant to be!
General Match/Residency Questions
Q: When are results released?
A: Phase I is released on March 19th 2021, Phase II is released April 14th 2021
Q: What advice do you have for those looking to match do residency post retail?
A: I am answering this question with the assumption that the writer didn’t mean a student intern in retail but rather working as a pharmacist post graduation in retail and then wanting to transition into doing a residency. My advice would be to continue your clinical education while in the retail setting and trying to take on extra tasks or projects in that retail setting. I think wanting to leave a high paying job for a year of 50% your salary and a heavy work load already shows you are very dedicated but it will help boost your application by adding certificates or other advanced trainings post graduation and showing that you can handle managing projects/extra responsibilities at work. I would look at organizations like ASHP and APhA that have many certificate programs!
Q: Tips for how to sleep the night before? (Laughing/crying emoji – I feel you)
A: Well personally my favorite cocktail so to speak to pass out without overthinking is a mix of Melatonin 10 mg chewable tablet and a good old diphenhydramine 25 mg liquid gel capsule (all about immediate results here clearly LOL). But no in all seriousness, stressing over something that is already set in stone and out of your hands provides no benefit at all. Do your best to focus your mind on something else and let the universe or God whatever it is you believe in take care of what is meant to happen!
Q: If you only got 1 interview and don’t match, how do you deal with that?
A: When it comes to deciding to apply to Phase II or not it really depends on how badly you want to do a residency. Not matching puts you in the same boat as everyone else who didn’t match, programs don’t know what happened in Phase I. If you want it bad enough, don’t let how Phase I went hold you back and go after it!
Q: Why do you think you didn’t match during Phase I?
A: Honestly this is something I have learned isn’t healthy or helpful to think about if it is in the wrong way! It could have been how I did my rank list, it could have been the one answer I gave to a question, it could have been a million different reasons and you can play the what if game all day long but that doesn’t help one bit. I currently work at a hospital I interviewed at and loved but ranked as number 2 and I didn’t match to them but they have never made me feel like I was unwanted during that process or when I was hired on as a Clinical Pharmacist post residency. Theres many factors that go into The Match process itself, I am all for self evaluation and trying to improve whatever you feel you can for Phase II but just avoid this never ending “what if” cycle.
Q: Did you ask for the day off from rotations ahead of time?
A: My situation was unique in that I was with a preceptor at the time who had already had my boyfriend on rotation before me and was very nice/understanding about how we were nervous. I think I was told to come in late that day and then when I didn’t match she told me to stay home and not worry about it for the day. HOWEVER, I feel like that is the exception because I know many of my friends were at rotation that day and just opened their email when they got home or bravely looked during the day.
Q: What are some ways you coped with anxiety or stress waiting for Match Day?
A: Anything that you enjoy that normally relaxes you when you are stressed is great to focus on! For me I always love going to the gym or watching my favorite show/movie to get my mind off things.
Q: Do you know people who matched that only interviewed at one hospital/had one rank?
A: Yes I do! It is 100% possible. If you interviewed at that once place you were meant to be then the number of interviews doesn’t matter!
Q: Any advice for those who do not match at all? How not to take it personally and overcome?
A: I know how personal it must feel because of how I felt after Phase I results but you can’t take it personally in the way that it somehow means you aren’t going to be a good pharmacist or are somehow bad in anyway really. Only somewhere between 50-60ish % of applications who apply to The Match actually match in Phase I and in Phase II only about 2% of applicants applying match with a program. With those stats you are not alone in the fact that you don’t match at all. There are so many other avenues your career can take in pharmacy, and many different ways you can end up in a clinical role even without a residency. So my advice would be to not limit yourself in jobs, apply to whatever is out there, and see how you feel in those different settings. You can end up loving a job you never thought you would or you could land a per diem job that opens so many more avenues for you. Stay persistent and keep going!
Q: I’m in a PGY1 and only applied to one PGY2, I’m so worried I won’t match, if I don’t where do I start?
A: I talked about my advice for finding a job post PGY1 if you aren’t doing a residency in this blog post but there are also PGY2 programs out there not associated with The Match because they are technically aren’t ASHP accredited but could be amazing programs regardless of that! One of my friends and co-workers did a transplant PGY2 like this and is an incredible transplant pharmacist and the residency wasn’t looked at any differently because it wasn’t accredited so I would ask your mentors around you if they know of any programs like that in your desired field!
Q: What experiences do you feel made you a strong applicant for residency?
A: So many things can make you a strong application for residency and certain things will be better or worse depending on the specifics of the different programs you are applying to! Overall though I had a lot of good clinical APPEs that I did well on and got really good LOR from, I had a lot of organization involvement and leadership experience, lots of volunteering, I had worked on research, I had worked in retail during part of school, I had a very strong GPA and was in several honor societies. You can also reference this blog post for overall recommendations on how to be a stand out pharmacy student!
Q: Did you rank every program that you interviewed with?
A: Yes I did! But if you truly would not want to be at a program then you should not rank them because you can end up matching with programs towards the bottom of your rank list!
Q: What if you don’t like your co-resident?
A: This is definitely something totally out of our control but you can think about how many co-residents you would want! Some programs are huge and have 20+ residents, some have 5-6, or 2-3 or just one single resident. This is one thing to consider when applying to places! But if you end up with someone you aren’t getting along with, do your best to focus on your own residency journey and growth and lean on/get to know your preceptors or medical residents better. I guarantee that you will connect with people at whatever institution you end up at even if it isn’t your designated co-resident!
Phase II Questions
Q: Prep for Phase II before Match Day? Or just wait?
A: If you do anything I would say continue to update your CV that will be super helpful!! When it comes to LOI you could try to revise the backbone of your letter if you didn’t like something about it but remember you won’t know what programs are available in Phase II until after match results are released so it is really hard to work on those before hand. My advice would be update your CV if you have time and feel inclined but other than that wait for results and do your best to relax!
Q: How did you change your LOI for Phase II? Like did you add in there that you applied in Phase I?
A: No I did not add that in there! Just double checked by looking at a Phase I and Phase II LOI still saved on my laptop! I had my preceptor at the time re-look over my overall letter and changes for each program I was applying to but I didn’t have any major changes in Phase II. I heavily worked on my LOI in Phase I and felt they were very strong! Almost all applicants in Phase II applied to places in Phase I, I think if you are applying to the same program that you did in Phase I that obviously shows you were interested before and may help you. I did not apply to the program I matched with in Phase I and I spoke about how I wish I had in my interview because once I really looked into their program I realized what a great fit it was for me!
Q: Do you necessarily have to contact programs that you’re intersted in for Phase II? Q: Do we contact RPDs during Phase II to let them know we’re interested after we submit app?
A: No you do not necessarily have to do this! Honestly the Phase II process is so quick that it can be very overwhelming for programs, they can get hundreds of applications the first day Phase II that they have to look through so they probably do not have time to also respond to emails! The only email communication I had with programs was once I was being offered interviews. This doesn’t mean it is 100% off limits but if they don’t answer don’t take it personally they are probably just very busy looking through applications!
Q: Steps in applying, do you reach out to the RPDs directly? Q: What is the Phase II process like?
A: So Phase II is the exact same process as Phase I just kind of ramped up version so it is much quicker! Ends up being about a month process versus a process that happened over many many months. You apply on PhORCAS and rank/match through the same national matching service. After Phase II if programs are still left over then this is the time where programs and applications strictly just reach out to each other and don’t go through any formal process, this is referred to as “the scramble.”
Q: How do you find a list of available programs that didn’t match?
A: When you get your rejection email they give very clear directions on how to proceed into Phase II and how to find the list of programs with open spots! Don’t stress this until you get your results, I don’t remember exactly but I do remember it being very straight forward!
Q: Re-doing letters of recommendation? Q: Can you use the same LOR writers for Phase II?
A: You do not need to have preceptors or whoever wrote your LOR originally re-do anything, unless you for some reason want a new letter but applications open back up on Tuesday March 23rd I believe so it would be very short notice/tight timing for that person to write a good letter, just keep that in mind! All your original LOR will be in PhORCAS still for you to submit to the programs in Phase II.
Q: How would you recommend approaching Phase II?
A: This really depends on if you truly truly want to do a residency and get into clinical pharmacy as fast as possible. For me I knew for years that I wanted that so there was not doubt in my mind about applying for Phase II. But Phase II is even more competitive and obviously more work/money for applications. I recommend if you are not extremely committed to doing a residency you weigh your options here and see if there are better avenues to head down!
Q: How many programs did you apply for in Phase II?
A: I big thing I didn’t want to compromise on was relocating, so I applied to all available programs in Connecticut. This ended up being three and I got two interviews. The same program that rejected me in Phase I rejected me in Phase II when they still had a spot open and honestly today that doesn’t burn a bit because I am exactly where I am suppose to be. Rejection isn’t always bad, I like to think of it as redirecting you to something that will serve you better, in this case potentially a better program for you!
Q: I didn’t do Phase I can I still do Phase II?
A: Yes! I don’t believe you have to have done Phase I to be eligible for Phase II. Just keep in mind all the parts of the application that must be completed in a very short time frame!
Q: Did you change your approach to ranking for Phase II?
A: Same way I approached it in Phase I! I ranked number one as the program I most wanted to be at, not what program I thought liked me the best! It is best to go with what you are feeling and where you want to be. You can never know how a program is going to rank or what they really think of you at the end of the day because they have so many of their own factors and voices in that rank list process.
Q: Did you rank every program that you interviewed with?
A: Yes I also did in Phase II! I liked my number one choice (SVMC where I ended up) WAY more than the other place I interviewed but not enough to not want to rank them. I figured any residency at that point would get me closer to my dream of being a clinical pharmacist but again go with your gut on how you really feel about these programs and if you would want to be there for a whole year!
Q: How did you answer “Why do you think you didn’t match in Phase I?” from interviewers?
A: I didn’t get asked this question and I think it would kind of be a cruel question to ask because again you didn’t not match because you were a bad candidate, so many applications do not match! And these programs of all people are so familiar with this process and how competitive it is. The questions I was asked and would prepare to answer are:
Why should we pick you?
What makes you the best candidate over other applicants in Phase II?
Why did you re-apply in Phase II?
What will you do if you do not match in Phase II?
**Make sure to focus on your passion for clinical pharmacy, and your true desire to keep learning and go through a residency, I told these programs they’d see my application next year if I didn’t match because I truly wanted to do a residency.
Not a question but a response from one of my favorite medical residents I met during my pharmacy PGY1 – “I did not match on my first attempt! You just got to keep going!” I would like to add he is a star resident and A+ new dad as well! Thank you for the positive vibes Armando 🙂
Pharmacy Residency Podcast – Episode 307 A Phase 2 Residency Match Story Part 1 with The Luxe Pharmacist
Pharmacy Residency Podcast – Episode 308 A Phase 2 Residency Match Step-By-Step Part 2 with The Luxe Pharmacist