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Pharmacy Residency: The ASHP Match

Pharmacy Residency Preparation Specialists

Applicants for Pharmacy residency positions in the US will receive their positions through a process called the Match, or more officially the ASHP Resident Match Program. The Match is designed to ensure that students are able to efficiently obtain residency positions – and in doing so, to ensure that residency programs receive the quality of applicants that they desire. The concept of a ‘Match’ is in use by many other health professions, and is pioneered by Medicine, which has its own famous Match each year. In order to apply, applicants must register on the NMS Match System.

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The ASHP Match: Overview and Advantages

The Match is designed to simplify the process of accepting appointment offers for Pharmacy residencies. As all offers, acceptances, and rejections must happen at the same time, the Match is an effective solution for ensuring a standardised acceptance rate, and for ensuring that both residencies and applicants will receive the best possible outcome.

The Match ensures that both residency programs and applicants are able to make full, informed decisions – there is the opportunity for both to assess each other, and thus no risk of making an ill-informed decision due to time pressure. Equally, the ranking list is one of real preference – 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 also removes much of the behaviour that was previously rife in the recruitment process, including time-limited offers which made applicants feel compelled to make an immediate decision, applicants receiving and then guarding multiple offers, or the choice to renege on an acceptance if a better option came up.

The ASHP Match: Overview of the Process

The Match still requires applicants to apply to the programs that they are interested in, and interviewing and evaluation will happen in order to allow the match process to then function. 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.

During the interview period, no offers may be made. It is the explicit goal of the match that this time is used for evaluation of programs by applicants, and evaluation of applicants by programs. Not allowing offers to be made prior to the official Match ensures that there is no time pressure.

When interviews are completed, applicants submit a confidential Rank Order List in the NMS Match System, which lists the programs they are interested in, and each residency of interest, in the numerical order of preference (first choice, second choice, etc.). Additionally, each residency will submit a confidential Rank Order List in the NMS Match System for each of its programs. Here, the residency lists the applicants for that program, in order of preference, as well as indicating the number of positions available in each program. If a residency offers more than one program, it can rank the same applicant on different Rank Order Lists.

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The ASHP Match: Phases

The first phase of the ASHP match is for applicants and programs to submit their Rank Order Lists, which must occur by the Rank Order List deadline for Phase I of the Match. The matching algorithm is then processed using these Rank Order Lists, which in turn will place applicants into positions. The results of Phase I of the Match are then distributed to applicants and programs.

The second phase is for programs with unfilled positions to offer those positions to unmatched applicants. Additionally, new programs or positions that receive funding after Phase I of the Match may also be added into Phase II of the Match, and equally applicants who did not participate in Phase I of the Match may participate in Phase II. As in Phase I, applicants must submit their Rank Order Lists by the Rank Order List deadline for Phase II of the Match. A second match will be carried out using those Rank Order Lists, and the results of Phase II of the Match will then be distributed.

The final phase is the Post-Match Process, also known as the Scramble, in which applicants who are still looking for a residency will be placed into available positions.

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