Being prepared for March Madness


Like NCAA student athletes, student pharmacists experience the highs and lows of a “March Madness” all of their own. For those students who have applied to participate in a residency program, this is the month of the rank list being submitted, the match being released, and the second match occurring. March can be an emotional roller coaster for everyone.

The game plan

Here are some tips from my playbook.

Play your own game. Focus on the interviews you have and then rank the programs that you like. This is your career path, no one else’s.

Show support. There are many ups and downs this month. Be a cheerleader for those who don’t match and share in the joy of those who do.

Be respectful with social media posts, particularly class accounts, as not everyone finds out their match results at the same moment. 

Don’t give up. If you find yourself participating in the second match, don’t get down; continue to press forward. There are a great candidates and good programs that do not match. 

Second match

The second match was designed to allow everyone the same opportunities for reaching out to programs and securing interviews. On Match Day, all unmatched students will be given access to the list of programs with open positions, and you can see all pertinent second match dates on the National Matching Services website ().

When it comes to the second match, here are some things to keep in mind.

Contact a mentor ASAP. They can review your application materials again and talk through the open programs with you.
Reach out to letter of recommendation writers. Contact your letter of recommendation writers and re-ask them to help you with your new applications.

Apply. Apply the minute PhORCAS allows you (Typically Tuesday morning). Apply to all programs that meet your criteria, if you can afford it.

Crush the phone interview. Try to practice this type of interview style with friends and mentors and review the tips below.

Phone or Skype/Facetime interview tips:

Be prepared. This is a real interview. Thoroughly research the program, make notes about questions you want to ask, jot down the key things you would like them to know about you, and review before interviewing. Have a copy of your CV in front of you for reference. Make sure your computer or phone is charged before the interview. Additionally, make sure you are in a place with good Internet or cell service so you don’t cut in and out during the interview. Review commonly asked interview questions again. 

Dress the part. Dress professionally from head-to-toe. This allows you get into the “mood” for the interview and if you do a Skype/Facetime interview, it will show your interviewers you are serious about this interview.

Focus in the quiet. Make sure you are in a quiet space. This means no family, friends, colleagues, or pets around; all computer noises are silenced, including mail notifications; and do not answer another phone call or text message during this interview. Make sure to sit up straight at a table or desk. Keep a note pad next to you—do not type notes on the computer because it is loud on the other end of a Skype/Facetime conversation.

Listen with good eye and posture. Wait for the other person to be done talking before speaking to avoid interrupting, which is rude. Listen carefully for conversation pauses and then respond. When on a Skype/Facetime interview, make eye , which means looking at the camera and not your computer screen, and remember the interviewers can see you, so watch your body language. It is acceptable to use hand gestures, but try not to be over the top with them. 

Smile. Yes, people can hear a smile on the phone. Make sure, whether phone or Skype/Facetime interview, that you are showing your excitement through your smile. 

Enjoy the ride

No matter the outcome of these next couple of months, enjoy the ride of the March Madness rollercoaster! If you have questions, please refer to Getting Started in a Pharmacy Residency or feel free to me at [email protected]. And good luck to your basketball team if they happen to make the tournament!