Touro College of Pharmacy students are celebrating their recently announced residency matches at prestigious institutions throughout the United States and its territories.
The residencies are optional but highly competitive and considered a requirement for any student seeking employment in clinical-based pharmacy practice or in academia. Eight students from the class of 2015 matched for postgraduate year one (PGY1) residencies, and two students from the class of 2014 won coveted postgraduate year two (PGY2) spots.
All of the residents will be based in hospitals, and the second-year residents will be pursuing areas of specialization. Upon completion of their programs, they will be eligible for board certification, opening up many more professional opportunities. Included among the respected institutions in the match are Howard University Hospital in Washington, D.C., Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in Brooklyn, Brooklyn Hospital Center, Beth Israel Medical Center, Mount Sinai Beth Israel Brooklyn, Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center, Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, Washington, and two Veterans Health Administration institutions, VA Caribbean Healthcare System and VA Western NY Healthcare System.
“We are very proud of the accomplishments of our graduating students,” said Interim Dean Zvi Loewy, Ph.D. “The residency opportunities that our graduates have received are a testimony to the high-quality pharmacy education offered at Touro, mastered through the consistent hard work, dedication and diligence of our student body.”
Among the students celebrating is Victor Chen, a Brooklyn native who will be completing his PGY1 at the Brooklyn Hospital Center.
“I was really excited when I found out I matched with Brooklyn Hospital. It’s a program that is well-known for its 24-hour on-call program, learning experiences and pharmacy practice,” Chen said.
By the time he applied, Chen had managed to maintain a 4.0 GPA while juggling a host of extracurricular activities. He published research on how a community hospital optimized antibiotics during patients’ stays; counseled patients on medication safety at community events; and assumed logistical responsibilities for the school’s residency preparedness workshops.
Chen said he hopes to complete a PGY2 in infectious diseases and eventually have a hybrid career combining clinical pharmacy practice with academia. He cited Touro’s unique “2+2” program, which gives students two years of academic work followed by two years of clinical rotations, coupled with a residency preparedness workshop, as key factors in helping him secure his match.
“The 2+2 program gives us an edge because the whole [residency] interview process is about what you did on rotations. 2+2 gives us the opportunity to have many different interactions with patients and adjust their therapies. The rotations brought out what inspired me about pharmacy and confirmed I picked the right career,” Chen said.
Steven Elrod, a member of the TCOP class of 2014 finishing a first-year residency at the Mayo Clinic, will move on to Providence St. Peter’s Hospital, where he will be part of a team of health professionals in the family medicine practice. Elrod said he is “very excited” about his match because he will be teaching first-year residents and eventually he, too, hopes to blend academia with seeing patients in family medicine.
Elrod said he ranked only the one program at Providence, and happily, he was matched. “I am very flattered and feel very fortunate. I am glad to be moving on, and it will help me be a better pharmacist down the road,” he said.
Evan Sasson, who is completing his first year at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, is celebrating his second-year match at Kingsbrook, where he will specialize in internal medicine.
“I am thrilled. It’s a big step in my career,” Sasson said. After completing his training, Sasson, who has several cousins in pharmacy school and an aunt who is a pharmacist, said he plans to practice as a clinical pharmacist in a hospital, specializing in internal medicine.
The students were participating in a match program sponsored and supervised by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, which recognizes three types of residencies: pharmacy practice (hospital-based), community (based in a community pharmacy) and managed care (based in managed care organizations, such as health plans or pharmacy benefit management companies).
In addition to Touro’s 2+2 program, the students had available to them a five-part residency preparedness program run by pharmacy faculty to give them a competitive edge in the application process. Students received tips on preparing their CVs, how to present themselves during an interview and practice on tackling clinical questions on-demand.
Eva Berrios-Colon, PharmD, MPH, BCPS, CACP, chair of the Social, Behavioral and Administrative Sciences Department and a co-director of the Touro Residency Workshop, noted there are not enough slots to fill the demand on the part of aspiring residents. This year, for example, 4,358 students went into the national PGY1 match, but only 2,811 students found spots for a match rate of 65 percent.
“The shortage in programs is the main reason why students do not match. It’s very competitive. Students who chose the path need high GPAs, strong letters of recommendation and CVs, communication skills, service and research,” she said.
Touro is a system of nonprofit institutions of higher and professional education. Touro College was chartered in 1970 primarily to enrich the Jewish heritage and to serve the larger American and global community. Approximately 19,000 students are currently enrolled in its various schools and divisions. Touro College has branch campuses, locations and instructional sites in the New York area, as well as branch campuses and programs in Berlin, Jerusalem, Moscow, Paris and Florida. New York Medical College, Touro University California and its Nevada branch campus, as well as Touro University Worldwide and its Touro College Los Angeles division, are separately accredited institutions within the Touro College and University System. For more information on Touro College, visit www.touro.edu/news.