Pharmacy Residency Applications: Complete Guide
Pharmacy Residency Preparation Specialists
Here we will work through each part of the application process for Pharmacy Residency, with a particular focus on interviews. Remember that you can find more detail on each part in our dedicated articles covering the Match, CVs, Cover Letters, and of course the interview.
Part I: What is the Match?
The Match is simply a process that makes applying to residencies and ranking them as efficient as possible. All offers, acceptances, and rejections must happen at the same time, meaning that the Match is an effective solution for ensuring a standardised acceptance rate, and for making sure that both residencies and applicants will receive the best possible outcome – in other words, it ensures positions are filled, and applicants receive jobs. There is the opportunity for both applicants and programs to assess each other, and therefore there is no risk of making an ill-informed decision due to time pressure. Both applicants and residency programs list their preferences in the true order, and don’t have to worry about how the other party has ranked them. The match eliminates behaviour that caused issues in the past, like time-limited offers.
You apply to programs that you are interested in, and then interviewing and evaluations happen in order to allow both you to rank programs, and programs to rank you. Then, the Match ensures that the two rankings are combined for a fair outcome. All residency programs that participate in the Match will also participate in the Pharmacy Online Residency Centralised Application Service, PhORCAS, and applicants must register for the Match before they can send applications using PhORCAS.
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Your CV is a vital part of your application. You should look to include as much information on your roles and responsibilities in your APPE as possible, a good deal of information on your professional activities, and a sufficient amount of information on your education and educational achievements, whilst other areas can be a little shorter. It’s vital though that you do not spend too much time embellishing areas that do not require embellishment, or on trying to ‘show’ rather than ‘tell’; equally areas that are relatively older or less impressive should have rather fewer words dedicated to them.. In general, a CV of 3-5 pages is appropriate – any longer is likely not to be read properly, whilst any shorter might indicate that your experiences are lacking.
Personal Statement Overview
Likewise, the personal statement will ensure that you are able to gain interviews at the programs that you are interested in. As a rough overview, the first paragraph of your personal statement should be used to introduce yourself and outline the position for which you are applying. Additionally, being able to state where you want to go in your career, and why, shows ambition and drive and will be immediately attractive for those tasked with assessing the document. The second paragraph pinpoints why you, in particular, are so suitable for the position. That means focusing on your most important attributes and on specific experiences that show your value as a potential resident at their program. The third paragraph should be used to close the letter and politely touch on what you believe the next steps might be. For example, you might outline that you will wait for the RPD to arrange an interview at their convenience.
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First, before interviewing anywhere, you must know about where you are applying. Therefore, research the program in as much detail as you can. Try to visit them if possible, and try to speak to current residents or others at the program, to better understand it. In particular, look into the mission statement of the program, whether they have an ethos that you can pick up on and that clearly informs their practice, and ensure that you are aware of any standout faculty and research. Consider the goals of the institution, and also the typical roles and responsibilities of a resident there. This might be something that you can find online, or it might be something that you will need to ask about at the interview. Additionally, you should try to find out who you are going to interview with, and then look them up. What are their particular research interests? What might they be particularly likely to ask you about? Is there any shared area of interest?
You should be ready for questions on your personal attributes. Some applicants will simply take to these types of questions much more readily than others – describing yourself and your achievements in a manner that sells yourself, but avoids coming across as boastful or unnecessary, can be difficult – and often requires a significant amount of practice. The best way to prepare is to work through as many questions as you can, and ensure that the answers that you give are of a high-enough quality – which means having access to model answers.
You must also be ready for questions on Pharmacy and healthcare in general. If you are ready for this array of questions, then you will be able to enter the interview feeling confident, and ready to approach whatever is presented to you.
Remember that many programs are conducting their interviews online today, with this move driven in a large part by the impact of COVID-19. Therefore you should consider some tips for online interviews, and how they differ from in-person interviews.
You should expect that the interviews for residency will be live, virtual interviews – that means that they are not pre-recorded. However, you may still need to do some pre-recorded questions, especially if you have to sit the CASPer exam. Check whether the interview is one-on-one, or whether you will be assessed by an entire panel of interviewers. Additionally, look for information on previous questions and interviews at the program as far as you can, as the more information you have, the more accurate you can be with your preparation, and the less you have in the way of unknowns.
Ensure that you are aware of the timings for your online interviews and keep on top of information from the program. Make sure that you log into the meeting room before the slot that you are given. You will need to be confident with the software that you are using – with Zoom, for example, you will be added into the meeting wait room as soon as you log in to it, with the interviewer then able to accept you into the actual interview when they wish. Showing up in good time also gives the interview a good impression – that you are organised and ready in advance.
Showing the right body language in an online interview can be a little more difficult than in-person. Therefore, you must sit a suitable distance from your webcam and make sure that your head and shoulders are clearly visible. Align your eye level with the webcam – making eye contact with the webcam rather than the screen will appear to the interviewer as if you are making eye contact with them. Adopt a pose that feels comfortable and professional, and be respectful, polite and attentive – just as you would in an in-person interview.