The Road to Success – 2nd Edition

Reflections from recent grads of the PILs Coach Program and their pursuit of postgraduate opportunities, including residency and fellowship training.

The PILs Coach Program pairs aspiring residents and fellows with personal coaches to assist them in achieving their desired goals through a customized strategic plan. Learn more about their personal journeys below.


Jason Gaines
Mercer University College of Pharmacy
Eli Lilly Visiting Scientist Fellow | Global Public Policy & Corporate Affairs

PILs is a one stop shop for any pharmacy student pursuing post-graduate training in the fellowship or residency space. I came into pharmacy school knowing my goal was to land a position in the pharmaceutical industry. However, what was not clear were the proper tools/skillsets necessary to be successful in a non-traditional role (policy, business, health economics). I immediately began researching programs that aligned with my interest and secured opportunities for exposure. I accredit my early success to Morehouse and Mercer alumni, DeRoyce Simmons, who connected me with George Okpamen.

George was extremely helpful as he provided insight on the ASHP Midyear process and strategic ways to approach each phase based on my interests. The coaching I received was very detail oriented and applicant specific. From letter of intent critiques to on-site presentation preparation, the mentorship of PILs proved instrumental in my ability to secure a fellowship position.

In order to be successful in the ASHP Midyear fellowship process, I’d advise one piece of sound advice, NEVER EAT ALONE! This journey is already difficult enough, so build relationships with the right individuals and be open to receive mentorship and sound advice.

Chioma Nwozuzu 
University of Southern California College of Pharmacy
PGY1/PGY2/MHA Health System Pharmacy Administration Resident at University of Washington Medicine

I knew early on that I was interested in pursuing a Health System Administration and Masters program, so I began looking at programs early on. This lead me to attend Midyear as a third year student. After seeing how hectic Midyear was, I knew I was going to need help navigating the application and interview process. I was so fortunate to have a PILs coach that recently completed a residency program similar to what I was seeking. It greatly contributed to my success as I was able to learn more about programs that both he and his colleagues applied to and/or successfully matched with. I also received great constructive feedback on my CV that was more tailored to administrative positions. This was incredibly valuable since most workshops that I had attended in the past did not take this into consideration. This helped me land interviews at most places I applied to all over the country. Lastly, my coach was incredibly helpful as I was trying to rank my programs. Having gone through the process before, he helped me come up with a way to systematically rank each program. As someone who is incredibly indecisive, I can honestly say my match would not have been successful without that support. Now I am a resident at the University of Washington and I could not be happier with the way things turned out.



Javon Artis
Texas Southern University College of Pharmacy
PGY1/PGY2/MHA Health System Pharmacy Administration Resident at University of Wisconsin Health

“If I have seen further than others, it is because I stand upon the shoulders of giants.” My favorite quote by Isaac Newton emphasizes the importance of meaningful mentorship, and the PILs coach program exemplifies how impactful true mentorship can be. My goal was to interview with the top residency programs across the country and determine which best fit my career goals. I’m proud to say that I will be an administration resident at the University of Wisconsin Health, but the amount of preparation it took to get me to this point would not have been possible without my PILs coach.

The moment after we mapped out my strategic plan marked the beginning of a long and strenuous process. To be prepared for the road ahead required program research, customized letters of intent, revisions to my CV and multiple mock interviews. It was all worth it. I applied to 8 programs following midyear and was fortunate to get an interview with all 8. I carefully evaluated each program and took note of the pros and cons of each. Once I was finished with the interview trail, I ranked my programs and had to defend the positioning of each with my mentor. Again, it was worth it. This detailed review of each program enabled me to identify the residency that best suit me.

Receiving that email confirming that I matched with my program of choice was a joyous moment! I was glad to celebrate the occasion with my coach, and I look forward to the work we’ll put in in the future. I would not be here without the help of my mentor, and I am grateful. I also appreciate the value of the PILs coaching program and am actively seeking the next mentee to benefit from the shoulders I currently stand upon.


Amanda Sirisaengtaksin
Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Pharmacy
PGY-2 Oncology Resident at Henry Ford Hospital

After developing an interest in oncology as a student, I chose oncology with Dr. Onyebuchi Ononogbu as an elective rotation for the second month of my PGY1 year.  This was my first clinical rotation of the year and I was my preceptor’s first resident ever. I was on the fence about pursuing a PGY2 in oncology for various reasons including the application workload on top of PGY1 residency duties, interview preparation, and unfamiliarity of oncology programs.  Throughout the rotation, Dr. Ononogbu not only tailored topic discussions to my interests but offered words of encouragement and I became more confident in my potential as an oncology pharmacist. Dr. Ononogbu helped me identify oncology programs to apply to and sent me the PILS Residency Strategic Plan to fill out, which helped me stay on track with application deadlines, CV, letters of recommendation, and letters of intent.  I would often prioritize my responsibilities as a PGY1 including staffing, research projects, and daily rotation tasks over applications, but Dr. Ononogbu always found time to remind me to send her edited drafts of my CV and letters of intent so that she could give me feedback before the application deadlines. After I received interview invitations, Dr. Ononogbu immediately scheduled time with me to practice my presentation and interview questions to ease my nerves.  She emphasized that practicing out loud would make my answers flow better during the interview, and I could not have agreed more. My interviews went so smoothly after our practice sessions that I was confident I would match with one of my top programs. Dr. Ononogbu is a true mentor, from encouraging me to believe in my ability as a clinician, to challenging me to think more critically, to helping me achieve goals I never thought were attainable. I am proud to say that I matched with the PGY2 Oncology Pharmacy Residency Program at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan, and this would not have been possible without my PILS mentor, Dr. Ononogbu.

by: Ashley Oliver, PharmD. Dr. Oliver is PILs Ambassador and staff writer for The Package Insert. 

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