Pharmacy Residency: Match Numbers, Statistics and Discussion
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Here, we will consider the overall number of students in the Pharmacy Match, consider core statistics, and discuss some of the factors that seem to best indicate the likelihood of success in the Match process.
In terms of the overall match rate, the average for all pharmacy schools in the US was 63.5%. There were more than 6000 applicants participating in the Match in 2022, down from more than 700 in 2020 and 2021. However, this is a significant increase when compared to around 4500 in 2013, and less than 5000 in 2014. In terms of the number of positions offered, there has been a steady increase from just over 3000 in 2013, to more than 5000 in 2022. The number of unmatched applicants, meanwhile, actually hit its lowest ever level in 2022 – around 1500, a decrease even when compared to 2013, when there were far fewer participating. Unfilled positions were relatively higher in 2022 compared to previous years, when there were very close to none at all.
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As noted, demand for residency positions has increased in recent years, with increased applicant numbers – and an applicant number that has consistently been higher than the total supply. There has been a 64% increase in the number of residency applicants in the past ten years, to 7364, and a 66% increase in the number of positions, to 5232.
It’s clear that students understand the importance of residency training in order to specialise in a given area of practice and thus to further their career in Pharmacy. Particular barriers to entry for Residency positions include the intense competition for each position, the fact that a resident has a reduced compensation rate when compared to a practising pharmacist, and the fact that many students see residency positions as difficult to attain, particularly in terms of extracurricular activities and further offerings outside of the traditional academic scope. There have been various studies undertaken on the different factors that affect applicants’ relative success rates in the residency Match.
The first factor of interest is the impact of mock interviews. One study found a significant favourable impact on Phase I match rates amongst candidates who undertook mock residency interviews, with a 75% match rate versus just 51% for those who did not take mock interviews. However, there was no impact on Phase II match rates.
The second impact factor – which should be quite obvious – is GPAs. Students who matched during Phase I had a higher GPA than those who did not (mean score 91.7 versus a mean score of 90).
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Residency preparation sessions were also assessed as an impact factor in one study. A residency preparation session covers one of a range of topics, including how to identify the right positions for a student, the residency showcase, an overview of the centralised application process, how to write a curriculum vitae, understanding the purpose of a letter of intent, how to secure references, tips for interviewing, tips on communicating with programs, understanding the rank list, and managing Phase II of the residency match if this is of relevance. It was found that applicants who attended at least half of these sessions would have a much higher likelihood of then attaining a PGY1 residency position, when compared to those who participated in less than half of the sessions (56.8% versus 20%). In addition, it was found that any participation in these sessions at all resulted in a higher chance of securing a residency position than no participation at all.
However, all of these factors must be considered in context. In general, it is the stronger or more ambitious students who are more likely to take on a number of residency preparation sessions, meaning that we might be mixing correlation with causation – the students who choose to attend a number of sessions are likely to be stronger across the board than those who do not, and it could well be this that causes their higher match rate – not merely attending the preparation sessions. That said, it should still be considered that both mock interviews and the attendance of preparation sessions will have a likely positive impact on a student’s match rate.