29 College of Pharmacy Seniors, Alumni Match to Residencies Nationwide

By Benjamin Waldrum

Through a live Zoom feed shared on social media, students shared their news on their residencies and congratulated each other for their hard work.

At the conclusion of their Pharm.D. training, students are able to join the workforce or continue to develop their skills in a specific area through residencies, fellowships or graduate programs. Residents further develop their professional competence beyond entry-level practice, as well as building leadership skills to improve services and patient care outcomes. Residencies are accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, and positions are filled through a process called matching.

In a continuation of the college’s growing footprint, 22 seniors matched to postgraduate year one (PGY-1) residencies in nine states: Arkansas, Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia and Florida. More than half of the students accepted postings in Arkansas. Seven alumni matched to postgraduate year two (PGY-2) residencies in a variety of specialties in six states: Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, Tennessee, Virginia and Ohio.

“We are so proud of our residency bound graduates and alumni and wish you all the very best as you embark on this next step of your career,” said Dean Cindy Stowe, Pharm.D. “This decision to pursue a residency is not taken lightly, and these individuals have put tremendous amounts of effort into preparing for this opportunity. We all look forward to following your careers.”

Megan Smith with map

Megan Smith, Pharm.D., shows a map representing locations of the postgraduate matches.Benjamin Waldrum

Through the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), seniors apply in the fall before graduation to dozens of programs, then interview with several of them. In the spring, seniors each send a ranked list of their choices to the NRMP. The residency programs also submit a list of their preferred candidates, and an NRMP computer uses an algorithm to reconcile the lists.

The 29 UAMS seniors and alumni competed along with 6,417 other applicants nationwide for 4,242 positions at 1,633 programs. The College of Pharmacy match rate was 85%, ahead of the 77% national rate.

“We so thrilled for our students as they embark on the next stage of their pharmacy careers,” said Megan Smith, Pharm.D., assistant professor in the college’s Department of Pharmacy Practice and chair of the Postgraduate Training and Opportunities Committee. “These positions are coveted and competitive, and matching to a position is quite an achievement.”

Ross Wagner, Pharm.D. (COP ’20), a current ambulatory care PGY2 and chief resident, was the keynote speaker. Pulling from his own experience as a resident, Wagner suggested four “tidbits” that matching students keep in mind: have confidence, take time for yourself, be serious about feedback and self-reflection, and own your mistakes and learn from them.

“I was in your shoes not long ago, and it’s no small accomplishment, so we’re all really proud of you,” Wagner said. “It’s an amazing experience, and you’re about to have that for yourself. Best of luck to all of you, and congratulations.”

Each student had their own story about what sparked their interest in pharmacy.

Anna DeLoach grew up in Magnolia and attended a pharmacy camp through UAMS as a junior in high school. “I knew from that point that UAMS was my top choice and only choice for pharmacy school,” she said.

DeLoach will start as a PGY-1 pharmacy resident at Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks in Fayetteville later this year, where she plans to pursue a pharmacy career in ambulatory care.

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to serve veterans while doing my residency here, and to be able to learn from pharmacists that are practicing at the top of their license,” DeLoach said.

Geoffrey Vaughn

An early experience with a pharmacist caring for his father sparked Geoffrey Vaughn’s interest in pharmacy.Benjamin Waldrum

Austin native Rebecca Zodrow was inspired to take up pharmacy instead of veterinary medicine at her mother’s suggestion. “My mom said, ‘Becca, you can’t be a veterinarian because you would try to bring all of the animals home with you. You need to be a pharmacist because they’re really smart and kind.’ And the more I learned about the field, the more I loved it.”

Zodrow will start her PGY-1 pharmacy practice residency at the University of Kansas Health System in Kansas City, Kansas.

“I am confident I will be provided the rigorous and rewarding instruction I need to practice as a pharmacist in a clinically demanding environment,” she said. Zodrow is already looking to the future, with plans for PGY-2 training or pharmacy positions in critical care or oncology.

Geoffrey Vaughn’s interest in pharmacy is more personal. While growing up in El Dorado, his father was diagnosed with Type 3c diabetes, in which the pancreas shuts down and produces minimal insulin. Confused about how to take care of himself, Vaughn’s father met with his local pharmacist for advice.

“His pharmacist took time, sitting down with my dad and explaining what he needed to change to live as normal a life as he can,” Vaughn said. “I saw this firsthand, and this level of care made me want to be a pharmacist who is willing to give the same amount of care my father received.”

Vaughn matched with Mercy Hospital in Joplin, Missouri. There he plans to finish his residency and start a family with his wife and their three dogs.

“One of the things that I’m most looking forward to is not only working with the wonderful staff and the pharmacy at Mercy but also building all of those interprofessional relationships with physicians and nurses,” Vaughn said. “I am hopeful to land a position in ambulatory care pharmacy and pursue my passion in taking care of my future patients.”