By: Anon, Pharm.D. Candidate c/o 2012
This year’s ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting took place in New Orleans, Louisiana from December 4 – 8, 2011. It was a keystone moment for many pharmacy students, and especially for those in their final year and in pursuit of a residency, fellowship, or hospital staffing position around the country.
While many students may think to hold off the Midyear experience until their final year, I strongly encourage students from all years of school to attend. The Midyear is a truly unique experience for any student. Students can opt to sign up for Pharmprep® (ASHP’s NAPLEX® Review course), which is an all-day, comprehensive, case-based board review session on the first Saturday of December. Sunday is the day for a majority of student programming, which range from a variety of professional to personal living topics:
Residency Training 101: Should I Do a Residency?
Residency Training 102: Navigating the Application Process
Career Pearls: Days in the Lives of Health-System Pharmacists
Making a Lasting Impression: Evaluating your Interviewing Skills
Mysteries of “The Match”
Effective CV and Resume Writing
Dollars and Good Sense
Life Happens: Guide to Personal Strategic Planning
Clinical Pearls for Students
If any of the above piques your interest, I believe you will find your time at the Midyear truly invaluable. I personally wished I had taken the opportunity to attend the ASHP Midyear in my earlier years, which is exactly why I want to share this information with you. In the large lecture halls of the convention center for student programming, I was surprised to see the strong representation of pharmacy students (in various years) from all around the country.
Going to the Midyear as a final year student requires a lot of planning for your trip to be worthwhile. I would highly recommend researching programs that you think are interesting prior to the meeting, and then keeping an open mind at Midyear. You never know what opportunities will come your way! I would also recommend drafting a curriculum vitae (CV) and seeking peers, current residents, faculty, and mentors to help edit your CV so that is presentable at Midyear. This is especially true for those who are thinking of engaging in the Personnel Placement Service (PPS).
PPS is a great opportunity to get 30 minutes of one-on-one time with the program’s directors, clinical pharmacists / preceptors, and current residents. I found the PPS experience truly invaluable, as having the individualized session allows your personality to shine through, as well as provides you, the candidate, with the opportunity to gauge whether or not the program seems to be a fit for you. Speaking with program directors will also help you understand if a residency is right for you. Additionally, interviewing takes practice; the more places you interview with, the more comfortable you will find yourself in the interview setting. I was fortunate to receive a wide variety of questions from various programs, which I felt was helpful in developing my interview skills. PPS provides a curtained, quiet space and time for prospective residents and fellows to have the opportunity to ask programs questions that you may have for their specific program. On that note, go to Midyear prepared with a list of questions to ask the programs you are interested in! Of course, taking part in PPS requires an additional fee, and you will need to upload your CV to CareerPharm® before you can start scheduling interviews with programs at the Midyear. The earlier you do so the better; many highly-coveted programs’ schedules may fill up quickly.
The Residency Showcase is another great opportunity to meet residency programs around the country. While only a few programs take part in PPS, some candidates may opt to forego the PPS and spend their time at the Residency Showcase to engage with these programs. This may also be a wise decision, as PPS interviews may conflict with Residency Showcase times. Most definitely, one should not miss the Residency Showcase! Residency programs are only available on certain days and at certain times; so, it is beneficial to go to all residency showcase dates and times to gain a comprehensive perspective of the programs that are available throughout the country. As always, go prepared! Have a printed-out map of the Showcase for all dates and times, and map out your route. With the growing interest in residencies, the Showcase can be a hectic experience. Be as organized and time-oriented as possible.
If you receive an invitation to any evening reception, I strongly encourage you to attend it. This was one of the highlights of my time at New Orleans. Usually in an informal and casual setting, receptions are a great way to comfortably network with and meet program directors, clinical pharmacists, and current residents. It was a lovely opportunity to speak to different hospitals about their programs. I was delighted to take part in pleasant discussions about what they love to do in pharmacy; their willingness to share their experiences, as well as impart wisdom and insight into their professional lives, was inspiring and encouraging.
Attending the Midyear Clinical Meeting gave me a much better understanding of the programs that I would like to be a part of and contribute to if I were fortunate enough to match with a residency program. My list of programs drastically changed after attending, and I am currently amidst the application process as deadlines loom on the horizon. Midyear is a huge turning point in terms of professional growth and self-discovery. Attending Midyear has helped me and peers gain a sense of professional clarity. In contrast, it was also not a rare instance where some students discovered that residencies and fellowships were not the route(s) they wanted to take. In summary, I strongly believe attending the ASHP Midyear at any professional pharmacy year will prove to be an invaluable and fun experience.