Since the demand for pharmacy residency spots far outstrips the supply – only about 60% of students match nationally – my colleagues Josh Caballero, PharmD, BCPP and Sandra Benavides, PharmD created a course to better prepare students at our College of Pharmacy to pursue a residency. Over the next couple of years, students completing that course went on to match 80% of the time. That success eventually turned into the recently published book, Get The Residency: ASHP’s Guide to Residency Interviews and Preparation edited by Drs. Caballero, Benavides, and I. The book was written in collaboration with faculty, clinicians, and residency program directors from across the country. I am pleased that it has been well received by students and reviewers alike and has entered its second printing.
As the profession of pharmacy continues to evolve in response to society’s health-related needs, one of the most pressing developments is the demand for more residency training opportunities. The demand currently far outstrips the supply of residency positions, and 2010 saw nearly 1 in 3 applicants fail to secure one through the Match. The onus on us as pharmacy educators is two-fold. Nationally, we need to scale up existing slots and help create new programs. Locally, we need to prepare our students as intensively as possible to help them compete for residencies that will help transform them into agents of change for the profession.
To that end, a couple of my colleagues developed an elective, Residency Interviewing Preparatory Seminar (RIPS), the details of which were recently published in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy. I was fortunate to be involved in this course aimed at developing our students’ core skills in the process including: improving their interviewing and presentation skills, professionalism, and developing their curriculum vitae (CV) and personal statement. As the course was targeted to P4s (i.e., completing the final, clinical phase of their education) who were at their rotation site all day, the class was held weekly for two hours in the evening and timed to be completed directly before the Midyear Clinical Meeting.
Completion of the RIPS course demonstrably improved the confidence of the enrolled students and 78% of RIPS students that cycle secured a residency. Nationally, the success rate is only around 62%, although these numbers cannot be directly compared. We have continued the course since publication and the most recent iteration saw a further increase in the percentage of RIPS students able to secure a residency position. Plans are to continue an iterative approach to course development.