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You've finally finished your interviews and know exactly which residency programs you love and which you don't. Now it's time to start thinking about words guaranteed to strike fear into the heart of any self-respecting pharmacy student: the Match. Many students don't know how the Match works and are convinced its only purpose is to keep them from getting a residency! The Match is designed to help candidates completely assess all of their options before making final decisions. It allows candidates to interview at several programs and allows programs to interview all candidates before finalizing rank order lists. Since both programs and candidates find out Match results almost simultaneously, it provides a fair means of placing candidates and programs together. Without the Match, candidates may be pressured into making a decision before interviewing with all programs. Imagine if you interviewed at your third choice first and they offered you a residency position. You would not be able to interview with any other programs if you accepted their offer. The Match also prevents highly sought-after candidates from stockpiling multiple offers, while qualified but less sought-after candidates have none. And the Match protects both programs and candidates by creating a binding contract, so that neither party can change their mind and accept a more “preferred” candidate or offer at the last minute. Understanding the match process will help you use it to your full advantage.

The Match only helps place candidates with positions in residency programs, and you must still apply and interview directly with the residency program you are interested in. After all interviews are completed, candidates and program directors go online and submit a ranked list of their preferences. The Match then attempts to place candidates into open residency positions based entirely on their preferences listed on their rank order list. Match priority is given to candidate preference rather than program preference.1

“The match works in the favor of the residency candidate. Rank the programs according to your interest and not how you think the programs will rank you.”

Danielle Y. – Pharmacy Resident, Tennessee

The process of matching could all be done by hand, but a computer is used due to the large volume of individuals involved. The Match works just like the social fraternity and sorority rush process. Programs and candidates submit their individual rank order lists, and the computer attempts to match the candidate with their first choice program. If the candidate can't be matched with their first choice, the computer moves to the second choice and so forth until the candidate is “tentatively” matched or their rank order list is completed. The match is only tentative because the candidate can be removed if a candidate more preferred by the program comes along. At this point, the computer again tries to match the first candidate with another program on their rank order list. This process is carried out ...

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