UCSF PharmD students achieve highest 2020 residency match rate in the country

The UCSF School of Pharmacy has long been an innovator in the pharmacy profession. Graduates of the School’s doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) degree program practice today in roles as varied as community pharmacist, health care policymaker, critical care pharmacist, and infectious diseases pharmacist.

For many of the School’s PharmD graduates, their expertise was further honed by a pharmacy residency soon after completion of their PharmDs.

This year, members of the PharmD Class of 2020 were no exception, with 78 of 85 pharmacy residency applicants from this class—92 percent—successfully matching with a residency program. This match rate is the highest of any pharmacy school in the U.S.

Seventy-five of these students matched during Phase I of The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Residency Match, and three students matched during Phase II. Results were announced on Friday, March 13, 2020 and Wednesday, April 8, 2020 respectively.

“Our talented students continue to perform beyond our expectations,” said Sharon L. Youmans, PharmD, MPH, vice dean of the School. “The interest in post-graduate training opportunities increases each year, and this is an outcome that students begin to prepare for starting day one of the program.”

The two match days occurred as the country was in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread shelter-in-place orders.

“With all the uncertainty and challenges as they wrap up, the fact that this class has the highest match rate in a number of years is great news,” said Cynthia Watchmaker, MBA, MEd, associate dean of student affairs. “It’s such a testament to the students, faculty, and all individuals who’ve precepted and worked with the students.”

Henry Huang, Class of 2020, matched with Mission Wellness Pharmacy, an independent community pharmacy based in the Mission District of San Francisco that is owned by UCSF School of Pharmacy alumnus Maria Lopez, PharmD ’01.

Huang is looking forward to gaining experience with the expanded list of services that pharmacists can now provide in California. His residency will center around ensuring “safety and appropriateness” of patients’ prescriptions—and ensuring they are able to afford those prescriptions, particularly for expensive treatments, like those for HIV or hepatitis C.

“Completing my residency at Mission Wellness will further expand my critical thinking in pharmacy practice,” said Huang. “I’ll be in a better position to not only advocate for the profession, but also to serve and advocate for the community and its particular needs.”

Alisha Vora, Class of 2020, will be moving to Ohio for her residency at the University of Cincinnati. Vora did not match during Phase I, but with the help of her PharmD peers, School alumni, and faculty mentors, she revamped her application and successfully interviewed for Phase II.

“I’m grateful for my classmates, and faculty who responded right away to see how they could help amid the COVID-19 crisis, which meant a lot,” said Vora. “It is very scary to not initially match, but it’s important to keep in mind what your goals are. Whether or not you match, there will still be another path for you.”

Vora plans to explore subspecialty paths in pharmacy. “One hope is I’ll find a specialization that I really like, potentially psychiatric pharmacy, to pursue in my second year of residency,” she said. “Overall, I’m hoping this [residency] will make me more well-rounded, more independent and more confident as a health care provider.”

The desire to pursue additional training beyond the PharmD in the form of a residency is emblematic of the School’s values, said Youmans. “The UCSF School of Pharmacy continues to provide a framework of thinking scientifically when it comes to solving problems. Due to the complexities of medication therapies and chronic diseases, more training is needed after graduation, and our graduates are up for the challenge.”

“At the end of the day, the residency results are fantastic, and we have confidence in each and every graduate,” said Watchmaker. “We also have students moving into fellowships and full-time positions, and residency is a focal point with the match results, there are multiple paths for students to get to where they want to be, and we will always support them.”


School of Pharmacy, PharmD Degree Program

About the School: The UCSF School of Pharmacy aims to solve the most pressing health care problems and strives to ensure that each patient receives the safest, most effective treatments. Our discoveries seed the development of novel therapies, and our researchers consistently lead the nation in NIH funding. The School’s doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) degree program, with its unique emphasis on scientific thinking, prepares students to be critical thinkers and leaders in their field.