I hope this article can be some help for students who are applying for residency next year. This is my experience in applying for residency during Phase II, how I utilized ASHP resources, and experiences in interviews.
When I first found out that I did not match, I wasn't heartbroken. Well, I was slightly heartbroken at some of the places I felt I did well during interviews who did not rank me high enough. It was more hard to respond to friends, advisors, and faculty who wanted to know where I had matched. I think not matching to a residency the first time really did reinforce how competitive residency is.
This year was the first time ASHP coordinated a second phase for residency. On Friday, March 18, 2016 at approximately 9:00 am (EST), students were notified if they were matched to a program and on the same day, March 18, 2016 12:00pm (EST), ASHP released the list of available residencies with positions. Students were able to submit applications for Phase II starting Wednesday, March 23, 2016. Final rankings were due on Friday, April 1, 2016, leaving only 10 days for Phase II. There were lots of time constraints with Phase II, which I felt had advantages and disadvantages. I knew having only 10 days to apply, schedule an interview, and rank would be challenging.
When the list became available on Friday, I contacted 39 programs to get more information on their residency. I still approached applying to residency with the same consideration as I did during Phase I. I looked at rotation selections, hospital setting, school affiliation, etc. Among the 39 programs, 25 programs contacted me back with further information on the application process.
Although the application portal wasn't open, students were allowed to log in and upload an updated CV, new letters of intent, and new letters of recommendations. I took the opportunity during this time to contacted my pharmacy program and be assigned a Phase II/Scramble advisor. My advisor took the time to review my letters of intent and CV, as well as give me feedback on interviewing skills over the phone. For the programs who responded, I had emailed them my CV, filled out any employment applications needed on their hospital sites, and spoke to my preceptor in possibly arranging time off for interviews. By Wednesday morning, I submitted my applications as soon as the portal had opened. Note: Apply as soon as you can, since there are only 10 days, many programs close their application period within a few days and it may not be listed on the PHORCAS.
During Phase II, the programs I contacted prior had mentioned they could not see my application. I felt contacting them beforehand was helpful as many of them still proceeded to offer me interviews without accessing my application on PHORCAS. Many of them looked over my CV and letter of intent I had emailed and had scheduled interviews for me that week. This continued on until a few days before the end of Phase II.
For some interviews, I had to fly and do a clinical and personal interview. In other interviews, I had to do a variation between an on the spot phone interview, Skype conference presentation interview, and FaceTime. Even the video interviews had a clinical component, and a few of the programs required secondary interviews. I had prepared two-10 minute presentations and delivered them over Scopia and Skype Business Conference formats to the interview panels.
By the time I had to rank, I had interviewed at 12 residencies (applied to 23 programs) and had ranked 13 programs (one site had two separate program listings). I think although it was stressful, I am so grateful for having a Phase II this year. I think having access to a list of available programs after the match really helped in my journey to matching for residency. Having a short time period however, limited the number of responses to my application. Either I was not considered due to not having a geographical ability to interview in person or received no response at all. The advantages however were that the interviews were mainly on the phone and I did not have to fly to each interview, miss rotation days or spend money on travel.
Advice for future applicants that I would relay is to be persistent. I didn't know how to present a powerpoint via Skype Business Conference, but the interviewers noted that I took the time to learn (via youtube). Even with a short time period, I elected to prepare presentations for my interviews. I felt requiring presentations was a way for programs to narrow applicants. Finally, be proactive in your residency search. No system is perfect, but it is about taking advantages of both the resources from ASHP and your school of pharmacy in attaining residency.
As I look forward in starting my residency at Sutter Health this July, I hope the best for the future graduation classes on their residency journey! Please feel to contact me in the future if you have questions. I would like to thank the faculty at Touro University California for their help during my application in Phase II and ASHP for this opportunity to give feedback on my experience.