First, don't give up. Take heart, there's a good chance that you
were a strong candidate but the numbers worked against you. By some
accounts, this past year the ratio of applicants to residency slots
was the highest it has ever been. Focus on making yourself stand
out above the crowd and try again next year. Keep reading for ways
to make yourself a more desirable residency candidate.
Get into the scramble.
Before you give up on finding a residency this year, get into
the scramble. Some residency programs don't match all their
residency slots and some residencies are not part of the match. The
word here is "network, network, network." Seek the advice of your
pharmacy school advisor and professors. It will be challenging but
graduates do find residencies this way.
Broaden your criteria.
Consider geographical locations or residency types you hadn't
previously considered. This is not the time to be picky. If a
location sounds like the ninth circle of hell to you, remember this
is only temporary. After your residency, you will be a much more
attractive job candidate with a wider array of job options in a
variety of geographical locations.
Take a critical look at yourself and assess whether
there are things you can do in the meantime to make yourself a more
attractive residency candidate.
Did the programs you applied to look for qualities and
qualifications that you don't have? Spend the next year addressing
those. Did they look for evidence of leadership skills? Join ASHP,
APHA, your local, state and regional pharmacy organizations. Do
volunteer work, for instance at a clinic that provides indigent
Seek a position in a clinical environment in the
The goal is to keep your clinical skills current and make you an
even more desirable residency candidate next year. You will have an
advantage over other residency candidates who have no clinical
There are many options for jobs in clinical settings. Look for a
job through the Public Health Service (PHS) or the Indian Health
Service (IHS), which by the way, has its own residency program
outside of the match. Consider a job at a psychiatric hospital or a
VA hospital. Take the less desirable shifts at a poison control
center. Look at the Food and Drug Administration for potential job
If you have difficulty finding a clinical job on your own,
recruit the help of a pharmacy staffing firm that
specializes in clinical pharmacy jobs . Their
services to you are free, and they are more networked in the
pharmacy industry than recent graduates are. If you end up taking a
traditional dispensing job, moonlight part-time in a clinical
setting-this is just the thing that a pharmacy staffing company can
help you do.
If you don't think you want to do a residency now or you don't
know what you want to do, leave your options open by protecting
your clinical skills and your clinical desirability. Once a lot of
time has elapsed, your clinical skills will not be current, and you
may wish you hadn't closed the door on that career path.
Consider going back to school for a post-doctoral
There are a lot of options: an MBA, a master's in clinical
research, a master's in regulatory affairs or a master's in
healthcare administration. There are pharmacy organizations that
recruit candidates with these sorts of degrees for management-track
Even if you don't do a residency, that does not mean you don't
have the opportunity to have a successful career. Currently less
than 20% of pharmacy graduates go on to do residencies. (Caveat:
there is reason to believe this number will continue to rise.) In
spite of the current softening of the market, pharmacy is still a
high-demand industry, and the job market will undoubtedly improve
in time. Consider the advice above-most of it applies not just to
residency candidates but to job candidates too-and think about ways
to make yourself stand out to a potential employer.
As Thomas Edison famously said, "Genius is 1% inspiration and
99% perspiration." In other words, work hard, and you will