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PhORCAS Update
Episode 521st December 2023 • The Post-Graduate Pharmacist • Sean Smithgall & Taylor Steuber
00:00:00 00:18:24

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This episode is about new changes to PhORCAS.

Questions we discuss:

  1. Purpose of PhORCAS and what it is.
  2. When applicants can sign up and when they should.
  3. What has changed this year in PhORCAS.
  4. Components of the PhORCAS application.
  5. Cost and resources involved in the application.

This episode's take-aways:

  1. PhORCAS is more user-friendly than previous years.
  2. Sign up and make an account as soon as you get the chance.
  3. Make sure to fill out all parts of PhORCAS, even if they are on your CV.
  4. Plan for the cost associated with PhORCAS.

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Follow us on twitter @PGPharmacist or on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn @ThePostGraduatePharmacist. What questions did we not answer? What did you think of the show?

Music | "Sweet" by LiQWYD





All right. Welcome back Sasso squad. And thanks for joining us. We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving break, got some R& R, got some self care time, and you are ready to jump back into the residency application process. Man, I love this time of year. Semester's wrapping up. All those Christmas trees and lights are twinkling everywhere.

You got the Mariah Carey playing on every radio station. It's absolutely in full swing. I've somehow managed to avoid the Mariah Carey, uh, song. We all know what it is, but I've only heard it once so far, so that's pretty good heading into December. But, um, I'm also excited. I love this. And I hope all of our listeners can contain their excitement because we've got some important updates today about forecast, which got a makeover.

Oh, you don't say, well, it's about time. And, uh, I'm pretty glad because every time I logged into that thing, it looked like windows 95 and, uh, I was about to pull up, uh, the mind sweeper application and kill a good. 10 or 15 minutes trying to get all the flags and all the bombs put away. Mindsweeper. What a great game.

But I was personally more of a space cadet pinball, my, uh, player myself, but yeah, definitely spent a lot of time on those, uh, on that windows 95. Great times. But anyways, enough reminiscing about our childhoods. Let's talk. Forecasts. Yeah. And before we dive into the new, awesome forecast application online software, uh, we got our hands on an actual letter of recommendation by playing the system just a little bit.

Um, and we now have firsthand experience about what is actually on that letter and we found some additional insights. Taylor, you want to share those? Yeah, real quick, just, uh, one update about that. So all the stuff that we went through the other week still holds true, but the interesting thing is the slider bar that we talked about at the top when you're evaluating characteristics.

Uh, and you go from consistently fails to meet expectations all the way to consistently expeeds expectations, there's actually a place for the letter writers to hover over. And when you do that, it kind of gives you a ranking or categorizes what that means, what a one means, what a. Two means and so on. So a consistently fails to meet expectations would be lower.

25 percent of candidates, a two or room for improvement would be lower than 50%. meets expectations would be above or upper 50 percent. Number four is occasionally exceeds expectations. That's the upper 25 percent. And then consistently exceeds expectations of five would be the top one percent of candidates.

So to me, that's just that signals that there shouldn't be a lot of fives, though I would be interested to see how it actually plays out. What do you think? I don't know, what are you, um, what are you going to give me? I sent you that letter. Are you going to give me all fives? Definitely consistently fails to meet expectations.

Yeah, uh, no, I, yeah, I agree. I think, uh, I think it's going to be interesting to see. I, I am anticipating a lot more uses of the fours and, uh, and some more comfortability with those threes and fours now that it's not, oh, that's, you know, there's only three numbers to choose from, so. Yeah, when there was no, there was no, uh, way to anchor what, what that meant.

So this is kind of interesting. I liked that they did that. Quick update. That was something new that we've kind of figured out with the letter of evaluation. So let's dive into forecasts. Um, just, I know we've recorded episodes on this before, but just wanted to kind of start with the basics for our new listeners and those going through this the first time.

Uh, you probably have heard of Forecast, but let's start with what it is and what the purpose of it is. So Forecast is the Pharmacy Online Residency Centralized Application Service. It's your beefed up Pharmcast application. It's that web based tool so you can put all your material. In one place in one database, and they can essentially just one click, send it to any program you want across the country and it have the consistent materials, including a letter of intent, CV recommendations, uh, academic transcripts and all of the stuff.

And really it's just, so there is a streamlined process. It makes it a lot easier and things go a lot smoother for. Programs, applicants, and reference writers to have things all in one centralized location. And like you said, it's similar to PharmCAS, so when you apply to a pharmacy school, this will be kind of a similar type of application process.

And you'll actually notice that they are from the same vendor, which is why they have that centralized application service. The same at the end. This summer you try to get on, you could not get on this thing. You were just like dying to get ahold of your forecast application. So when can applicants actually sign up and when should they sign up?

Well, you can actually sign up now and I would suggest to go ahead and create an account and sign up and get comfortable with it and you can actually start filling out some of the items, you know, I would think most people have signed up by now, but if you haven't, go ahead and do it. Uh, it's no cost to sign up and create an account.

You won't have any cost to you until applications are submitted. And we'll talk about that a little bit later. The, the cost associated with, with this process. And I'm one of those people that. I have that anxiety until I can quantify the amount of work I have to do for a certain project or certain thing.

So getting on there and just clicking through and seeing like, what is all the stuff I'm going to have to potentially do I think can help you all out a lot with that anxiety of, you know, what, how, what is this tool? How, how am I supposed to use this? Do I have enough time? How much time do I need? All those questions.

Right. It definitely isn't if you've kind of applied to pharmacy intern jobs. It's probably going to take a little bit more time than that. It's not going to be something you sit down and do all in one sitting unless you have, you know. Six, eight hours on your hands. And you're a machine or something like that.

And you're a machine just going through it. But, um, but yeah, I would go ahead and sign up and get to working on that. You can at least fill out the the demographics, uh, section and that'll make you feel accomplished for the day. So I know we've kind of mentioned that it is a little bit different and got that makeover.

That was much needed and it looks different this year, but I wanted to kind of talk about the functionality or the changes that were actually made. What were those Sean? Yeah. So really not a lot of changes have been made to the actual components of the application or the overall structure of what you're putting into a forecast.

It just, it just appears to be a little bit more user friendly. I'm looking at it right now. It's got. A very nice dashboard component. Now the, the old version, it was just these tiny little tabs or these little things on the left side and just kind of like a checkbox kind of thing where you went through.

Uh, this one's got nice, these, these nice graphics that show you clear, like, Oh, it lights up green for completion and how, how many components or sections you have left before you've completed it. And there's really nice. Uh, additional features there, like, um, on the left side, you've got tips and things on how to proceed.

Like this section won't open up until you do these four things, or you need to get this, this and that before you can then select, uh, what sort of, uh, recommendation writers you can send to. And, uh, and then there's a lot more features for people who need additional help. There's a chat function now, which probably.

It's an AI chat function at first, but you might get ahold of a real person. I haven't tried it cause I haven't, I haven't had to chat with anything. Um, but it's got a, it's got some notification features and stuff like that. Just overall easier to use dashboard. That, uh, virtual assistant is kind of interesting.

You know, I, I don't feel like they ever assist you, but maybe you find something. Uh, but yeah, I think the biggest thing is just more of the aesthetics and kind of helping out. To be a little bit more straightforward for the applicant that's filling out the pages and things. Yeah. And so speaking of application components, what are they and what do they entail?

Yeah. So like you said, Sean, they. Uh, sections of the application have not changed, and so those are still going to be the same. So your main sections are going to be personal information, academic history, supporting information, and program materials. That personal information, as you could guess, it just contains your contacts, your basic background, demographics, um, citizenship, and things like that.

Uh, so that's a pretty straightforward section. Your academic history includes information about your academic performance and then the schools you've attended, like where you went to undergrad and where you're going to pharmacy school, and there's specific ways that you fill that out. Supporting information.

So this is going to be a lot of your relevant professional or academic achievements, your internship or work experience, scholarships, awards, publications. And things like that, um, and then program materials, that's going to kind of, you can select your programs when you first sign up, it kind of prompts you to do that, but you can change those here, add to them, take them away.

It allows you also to upload any program specific materials if they're asking you to complete anything outside of the standard, um, forecast application. Uh, this also is where you'll upload your CV and your letter of intent. And this actually allows you to tailor both of those, the CV and letter of intent to those specific programs.

Uh, if you choose to do so with your CV, we, we talked, you know, obviously letter of intent should be, uh, program specific. Um, so that, that's where you'll kind of do that. And this is also where you'll enter your reference writers for each of those programs. And one more thing with program materials, when you actually add a program, it pulls up some of that directory, uh, information so you can see, you know, so you can just double check that that's the program you wanted to select, you know, it shows where they are, it even gives the program deadline all in one place, which is nice.

And I think, I think that's a new feature. It didn't usually have that information here. You had to get that information through either the directory or through a third party, um, means. Yeah, that's, that's a kind of a nice feature too. So you can, you don't have to go and, uh, scroll back to, uh, and have multiple tabs or browsers open.

It kind of just pulls it there. So that's, that's a really nice feature. Um, and it should be up to date. I think programs are pretty, they're pretty good about getting up to date information from programs. Um, one other thing just to mention with, uh, with these sections, I know we talk about it in other episodes, but just, uh, again, just to reiterate the point.

So there's a lot of sections here that, you know, you'll be using your CV to update the information. And, you know, we always talk about or get asked that question. Well, if it's on my CV, why do I have to put it in here? Should I expand on it? Should I put it in here? And the answer is definitely yes. Um, this gives you kind of the opportunity to explain some of those things a little bit more.

Uh, it also, the nice thing about, Uh, with, with forecast is that it'll, it'll allow programs if they're looking for a specific thing, it can filter, um, the things out through forecast and you can, um, so if you left that off, you might not, uh, in a program was filtering that or trying to find that, uh, it's easier to find it through forecast than it is to look through everyone's CV, which might all be a little bit different and things would be in different places.

So, uh, just to, Hit that point again, uh, important to do, uh, the last thing, uh, just to mention about forecast and all of these different sections is that you can only submit your application after all these sections are checked off and are green. So, uh, that's kind of the nice feature of the dashboard.

You can see all those. Places that, uh, you still need to finish, finish up and, um, ones that have been completed already. So Sean, the one thing I wanted to talk about last was the cost. Cause I'm sure that's, you know, always on everybody's mind, the cost of all, uh, this application process and interview season.

So what's the cost and what additional, uh, resources are available to help with forecasts? Yeah. So cost, uh, one of the fees that you cannot avoid if you plan on sending your application is the national matching service fee. It's a flat fee of 160. Uh, this is for registering for the match, but like I just said, you can't send your applications to programs through forecast until you pay that fee.

So it's one of those. You just got to pay if you're going to apply to apply and try to get these residency positions. After that fee, you have to pay a fee per program you submit to. They do bundle the first four programs for 110 and it's one of those. You pay 110, no matter if you use one program or three programs or four programs.

So we always recommend you should at least apply to a minimum of four programs, even if it's just for funsies. Um, and so after that 110, you pay 43 per additional program. So Taylor, let's just say you were applying for eight programs. This year in the match, uh, you would pay 442. That's including that national matching service, 160 fee.

So just eight programs can cost a pretty big chunk of money, uh, in this day and age. So just be conscious of that budget for that, that money will be due by the end of December though, because that's when you would be. Um, and then, you know, listen to our other episodes about interviews and things like that, because we talk about potential costs associated with, with that, but definitely expensive season.

So maybe you can ask for. If you're, if your family gives gifts and everything, maybe you can ask for some money to help if you're applying to these programs, um, that would be helpful this season and, and everything. So, uh, one last thing I wanted to just mention about, uh, different resources that can help you.

Hopefully we've helped, um, kind of shed some light on some of these things and you can listen to our other episodes related to forecasts that kind of go into more detail. But ASHP on their website has great resources. We'll provide a link in the show notes. They also have a video tutorial if you wanted to kind of see how the, uh, how forecast looks before you sign up for it.

Um, I'm more one that has to like actually get in there and play around with it. So, uh, but there is a video tutorial and then presentation slides about some of the things that we've discussed today. Uh, and then you mentioned like there's a virtual assistant, so I don't know how helpful that will be, but, um.

it is there for you. And then there's also a contact the help desk feature. So that would probably put you in contact more with, uh, an actual person who could answer your questions that the virtual assistant can. So take advantage of those. If you do have questions or feel free to reach out to us and we can try to.

Shed some light on any of the questions that you have. Well, thank you all so much. Reach out to us. If you have questions, there's a lot of changes this year. If you have any questions at all, you want our opinion on something, you want our advice, you go ahead and reach out




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