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Residency: I Didn’t Get What I Thought I Wanted

Many of you know this story: as a pharmacy student, I desperately wanted to fall in love with a therapeutic area. My classmates spoke passionately about ID, oncology, and pediatrics, and I supported all of them. Don’t get me wrong, those topics are fascinating! But every class, I was hoping for a spark like my friends were feeling. And then it happened: we began our women’s heath module and I couldn’t get enough! I took the elective, read extra books, interviewed pharmacists, and researched residencies in this area.

There was only one problem: this niche didn’t have many post-graduate opportunities at the time. In fact, I only found one. I also learned on rotations that I loved teaching and ambulatory care – so I followed the same pattern: read a lot on the subject, interviewed pharmacists, and researched teaching/amb care residency programs. I narrowed my searched and applied to the one WH program and several teaching/amb care programs. I was eager to learn more about all of them!

Then it started to rain. The one WH program in the country decided not to take residents that cycle. The amb care program closest to my family invited me for an interview, but since I was on rotation 2000 miles away on an Indian reservation that was 2 hours from the nearest airport, I couldn’t get a flight in time. At first I thought – this is NOT going the way I planned.

Thankfully I was invited to interview at other programs and they were more amazing than their brochure depicted! The more I learned about what a resident could do, the more it solidified my desire for this experience, and the more eager I was to get started.

On Valentine’s Day I was alone in a dorm room of a convent just outside of the reservation in New Mexico when I received a phone call from a program director. She was calling to offer me the position and I wholeheartedly accepted. It’s been one of the best career decisions I’ve made. Although it wasn’t exactly like I envisioned, it’s actually been better: I’ve found a way to combine all of my passions to design a career I love.

At the time, I was so thankful to be placed and I couldn’t help but think about my initial plans. Looking back, I can’t believe the serendipity of it all. The point is: sometimes we are disappointed with not being invited for an interview, not ranking with our top choices, and not being placed at all. The real lessons here are how we will react when those things occur. Are we willing to accept that for some reason, it wasn’t the right fit? Maybe not the right time? Maybe there are factors outside of our realm of understanding to explain it all?

When we let go of the need to control the outcome, beautiful things can happen, if we let them.

Until next week,



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