Tips & Tricks for Applying for Residencies

Contributed By: Katie Oliver, Class of 2017, Phi Lambda Sigma Secretary

As a fourth-year student approaching the end of my time in pharmacy school, it finally feels like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! All of my time with didactic classwork and clinical rotations is quickly coming to a close. With that being said, there is still one thing hanging over my head – applications for PGY1 residency.

PGY1 Pharmacy Practice Residencies are optional additional training after graduation with your Pharm.D degree. These programs provide recently graduated pharmacists with an opportunity to finely tune their clinical skills in real world practice. While you are able to practice independently as a pharmacist, you remain under the supervision of other pharmacists who are there to provide advice, constructive criticism, and clinical experience. It is estimated that completing one year of residency will provide you with clinical knowledge equivalent to 3 years of clinical practice.

If you feel that completing a PGY1 residency may be in your future, I wanted to provide some helpful tips and tricks, as well as some information I wish I would have known prior to applying:

  • Applications for PGY1 residencies exist almost exclusively on two online portals; PhORCAS and The Match
  • PhORCAS
    • Almost identical to PharmCAS. This is where you will upload your transcripts, letters of recommendation, letters of intent, CV, pharmacy schools attended, etc.
    • You will pay to submit your applications here, as well. PhORCAS costs $100. This price includes submitting applications to four programs. Every program you apply to beyond this costs an additional $40.
    • Fill out the online PhORCAS application fully. Do not rely solely on your CV to speak to your abilities and experience. Fill out every section of the PhORCAS application to the best of your ability.
  • Letters of Recommendation
    • Try to get references from individuals who have seen you practice clinically (e.g. preceptors) and who practice in similar settings to the type of programs you are applying to. (e.g. if you are applying to a program with an emphasis in infectious disease, try to get a letter of recommendation from a pharmacist who practices in this area).
    • Ask individuals if they would be willing to write you a letter of recommendation before you enter their information into PhORCAS. Once you enter their information it automatically generates and sends them an e-mail.
    • Letters of recommendation aren’t truly “letters” in PhORCAS. When PhORCAS sends the e-mail to the individual writing on your behalf, it is instead multiple short answers they answer in PhORCAS.
  • Letters of Intents
    • Individualize these to each program. Do not just speak about why you want to do a residency, but why you want to complete residency at their facility. Speak about what draws you to their program and why you feel you would benefit from it. Also, why would they benefit as taking you as a resident?
    • Make sure you format correctly! There are plenty of examples of PGY1 Letters of Intent on the internet.
  • Transcripts
    • Provide yourself plenty of time! PhORCAS will generate a document with you to print directly from their website that contains a barcode specific to you. You must then request your transcript from the university and have both of these documents mailed together. I would suggest starting this process several weeks prior to your applications being due.
    • Some programs require supplemental materials. Examples could include class rank, a photograph, undergraduate transcripts, etc. Pay attention to this!
  • The Match
    • This is where you submit your rank order list after you have completed your interviews. It is a separate website from PhORCAS. This is also where programs submit their rank order list of applicants.
    • The Match costs $150.
    • There are multiple phases of the match process. “Phase 1” and “Phase 2”. If you do not match with a program in Phase 1, you move on to Phase 2 for a second chance to match with programs who still have resident spots remaining. There is no additional cost for this.
    • If you do not match with a program in Phase 2, there is an opportunity to move on to the scramble process. This is provides a third opportunity to match with programs who still have residents spots remaining (it is completed in a much shorter time frame).

Applying for residencies is a stressful and difficult process, but definitely worth it in the end. If you are a current UCSOP student and have any questions about the application process, the faculty and staff at UC are more than willing to help!

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