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Now that you are familiar with residency programs and excited about pursuing postgraduate training, it's time to begin thinking about the qualities that residency programs look for in resident candidates. In many ways, looking like the ideal” residency candidate is about marketing yourself. But, before you think about marketing, it's time to develop a great product: You!

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The Plan

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The first key aspect of preparing for residency training is that you should have a plan to demonstrate that you are the ideal residency candidate. The plan for your residency training and the rest of your professional career should start well before the residency application materials are prepared. In essence, you should consider what you can do early in your pharmacy school career as a pre-residency candidate to develop skills and qualities that will prepare you for residency training. Keep in mind that rather than participating in activities for your application, you should thoughtfully consider spending your time engaged in activities that interest you and will prepare you for the residency training and career that lies ahead. Remember that we don't plan to fail in our lives (and residency applications), but often we fail to plan.

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Pharmacy residency programs will evaluate applications in a number of ways, but the core areas are experiential training, professional organization involvement, leadership activities, community service, academic performance, scholarly activities, professional work experiences, other employment experience, and overall communication skills. Ideal candidates will excel in all of these categories.

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“Do all you can during pharmacy school to be the ideal candidate to the residency programs which you are applying.”

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Matthew W., Pharmacy Student, Michigan

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Experiential Training

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When evaluating a candidate for a residency program, experiential training is a strong area of interest. Although many colleges of pharmacy have similar Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience (IPPE) and Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE) rotation requirements, the ideal residency candidate will maximize these experiences. Experiences in community, ambulatory care, and acute care pharmacy practices sites are all valuable for pharmacy students to prepare them for the rigors of postgraduate training.

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“Be sure to leave a good impression during your student rotations! Many residency sites will reflect back on your performance as a rotation student when considering you for a residency position!”

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Huda-Marie K. – Pharmacy Student, Illinois

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Students who are planning to apply for a residency program need to choose their elective rotations wisely. Prior work or volunteer activities can give you a head start by providing exposure to lots of practice areas. If you have already been exposed to multiple practice areas, you will be able to choose elective rotations that will match the type of residency program(s) you are considering. For example, if you are certain that a Postgraduate Year One (PGY-1) residency in acute care ...

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