College of Pharmacy Match Rate Places University in Top 10% Nationally

The majority of the Class of 2024 will pursue residencies and fellowships.
Group photo of Pharmacy Dean and pharmacy students
College of Pharmacy Interim Dean Dr. Mary Hess with pharmacy students (l-r) Ryan Quezon, Alyssia Calhoun and Eilaf Ismail. (Photos by ©Thomas Jefferson University Photography Services)

College of Pharmacy student Alyssia Calhoun set her alarm for 7 a.m. She didn’t know when the highly anticipated residency match email would arrive that day, so she wanted to be ready.

After a few anxious hours, the message popped into Calhoun’s inbox at 9:12 a.m. Surrounded by her grandparents, parents and brother, she read the email that said she’d be attending UChicago Medicine—her top choice.

“That was the scariest but most exciting day of my life,” Calhoun says. “It means so much. It was confirmation that all my hard work has paid off over the past four years. I get to train at this amazing institution.”

With family by her side, student Alyssia Calhoun receives her match results.

On March 13, graduating pharmacy students across the country found out where they would head for their residencies. Among local programs, Jefferson students led the way, matching at large academic and VA medical centers, community health systems and more, says Dr. Mary Hess, College of Pharmacy interim dean.

The 90% match rate for Jefferson’s Doctor of Pharmacy Class of 2024 places them in the top 10% in the country and continues the college’s tradition of matching higher than the national average (74% this year). In addition, the Class of 2023 boasted a 100% match for those pursuing an optional second year of residency training (vs. 77% nationally).

“Part of what helps our students excel in matching is participating in extracurricular opportunities and focused sessions that hone attitudes, skills and career plans throughout their education,” says Dr. Hess, noting the college and Office of Academic and Career Success run the career prep sessions. “On entry into the program, they can take full advantage of the rich experiences the University has to offer.”

Student Eilaf Ismail
College of Pharmacy student Eilaf Ismail matched for a managed care residency at PerformRX.

Just over half of the Class of 2024 will continue into postgraduate training, which isn’t required to practice as a pharmacist, Dr. Hess says. However, a postgraduate program may springboard students’ careers, giving them advanced skills in management and complicated drug therapy. Residents who enter a second year specialize in a specific area of practice, such as ambulatory care, infectious diseases and psychiatry.

Calhoun sought to continue her education after Jefferson so she could become a clinical pharmacist, she says. A family member’s mental health battle first inspired her interest in the field, and the University’s support cemented her path forward.

“I don’t think I could have gone through this process without Dr. Hess, my adviser Dr. Emily Hajjar and all my preceptors, mentors and peers,” Calhoun says. “In my last year of rotations, I realized there’s so much more for me to learn. I want to have the best education and training possible, and going to UChicago Medicine is absolutely a great step to get there.”

Student Ryan Quezon
Ryan Quezon will start a one-year fellowship in medical information and medical affairs at CSL Behring.

Classmate Eilaf Ismail calls herself a lifelong learner as well. “Pharmacy holds a great place in my heart,” she says.

Ismail earned a bachelor’s in pharmacy from her native Sudan, but once she came to the United States to join her family, she knew she needed a PharmD and residency to pursue her professional dreams.

She matched for a managed care residency at PerformRX. Here, Ismail will train at the pharmacy benefit management organization and gain knowledge in prior authorization, clinical market intelligence and clinical outcomes. She will focus on helping underserved communities and improving health outcomes.

“The ultimate goal is making sure affordable medication is going to the right patients at the right time,” Ismail says.

Student Alyssia Calhoun
Alyssia Calhoun matched for a residency at her top choice, UChicago Medicine.

Not all those who matched into residency this year came from the Class of 2024. For example, alumna Dr. Urvashi Sharma graduated in 2020. She initially bypassed a residency and went straight into the workforce as a community pharmacist in New Jersey.

After a couple of years, she decided she wanted to do more clinically oriented work. “The gap gave me perspective on why I want to do a residency,” Dr. Sharma explains.

When applying, she worked closely with Dr. Hess and set up mock interviews with Jefferson’s Office of Academic and Career Success. Dr. Sharma matched at HCA Florida Brandon Hospital.

“It’s really useful that alumni can use the career services,” she says. “That prepared me, and I’m looking forward to gaining as much knowledge and experience as I can through my residency.”

The ultimate goal is making sure affordable medication is going to the right patients at the right time. –Pharmacy Student Eilaf Ismail

Along with the students and alumni who matched for a residency, five members of the Class of 2024 secured competitive fellowships in the pharmaceutical industry, Dr. Hess says. Among them is Ryan Quezon, who will start a one-year fellowship in medical information and medical affairs at CSL Behring.

In this position, he will answer questions from healthcare providers and patients about the company’s products, create standard response documents and sit on medical review teams.

“Medical affairs serves as an informational bridge between pharmaceutical companies and healthcare providers and patients. We will make sure the information healthcare providers and patients receive is complete, accurate and balanced to ensure medications and products are used safely and effectively,” he says. “I’m excited to learn outside the classroom walls and see where my fellowship takes me. I want to make an impact on patient care and better lives.”

Pharmacy students talking to the dean
The 90% match rate for the Doctor of Pharmacy Class of 2024 places them in the top 10% in the country.

In addition to the positive news on the fellowships and residency matches, the College of Pharmacy also saw impressive results for the Class of 2023 taking the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX), Dr. Hess says.

Shortly after pharmacy grads receive their degree, they take this exam, which evaluates general practice knowledge. Pharmacy boards use the NAPLEX as one component to assess a candidate’s competence to practice as a pharmacist.

Jefferson grads’ NAPLEX pass rate placed the University in the top 20% of all Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education-accredited programs.

“This is exciting news,” Dr. Hess says. “Our pharmacy students and alumni continue to impress us.”

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