Alex Barker, PharmD
Alex Barker, PharmD
Alex Barker is the founder of The Happy PharmD, which helps pharmacists create an inspiring career, break free from the mundane “pill-flipping” life. He is a Full-time Pharmacist, Media Company founder, franchise owner, Business Coach, Speaker, and Author. He's also the Founder of Pharmacy School HQ, which helps students get into pharmacy school and become residents.

Top Pharmacy Conferences for Pharmacy Students and Residency Seekers

NOVEMBER 06, 2014

Conferences comprise one of the best ways to grow your career, as they create opportunities to expand your knowledge and network with influential pharmacy leaders.


I was originally skeptical of the benefits of conferences, mainly due to their cost, but I was able to land a residency and find a co-author for one of my published articles when I attended 1 national conference.


As you ready yourself for the residency process or your first job, you’ve likely become overwhelmed with the application process, updating your CV, and conquering the unknown fear of what your career’s future holds.


The best way to improve your chance of getting a residency is by building relationships with residency directors. Once a director knows you, she can begin to trust you, and trust is an essential component for the hiring process. In fact, every job I ever had was because I knew the manager or someone who worked there before I applied. Your network is your most powerful career tool!


Unless you personally know a director, it’s difficult to connect with one. That’s where conferences come in.


Each conference provides the chance for you to create standout first impressions with residency directors. Below is a list of our profession’s greatest conferences.


American Pharmacists Association (APhA)

APhA is America’s largest pharmacy organization with more than 62,000 members and a significant focus on community and clinical pharmacy.

 

Their conference is great for students whose careers are community focused, so if you have any desire to pursue a community residency, you need to attend this conference. APhA also offers training specifically geared towards helping you improve your chances of matching.


American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP)

Among pharmacy organizations, ASHP holds the lead for hosting the most conferences, each of which holds potential to help you get a residency. I recommend attending as many as you can throughout your pharmacy schools years.

 

ASHP’s midyear conference is a hub for residency opportunities with the Residency Showcase and Personnel Placement Services (PPS). The Residency Showcase is your time to connect with residency directors, and PPS allows you to connect with employers in an introductory interview that lasts 30 minutes.

Although it does cost extra, the experience could land you a job. I used PPS to rule out many programs that I thought I wanted to apply to for a residency.


 

National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA)

NCPA is an organization that represents mainly pharmacy owners, pharmacy managers, and independent pharmacists.
 

While this conference isn’t meant for residency seekers, there is 1 residency that is with the NCPA. Plus, if you are seeking employment with an independent pharmacy, their annual convention is a great place to meet forward-thinking pharmacy owners and managers.


 

American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP)

The ACCP is the leader in providing guidance for clinical pharmacists. Their annual meeting brings the best and brightest to learn and network.
 

They have a residency and fellow forum that provides a great opportunity to meet residencts and directors. The forum is a 1-day event that lasts a few hours during the conference and provides a chance for you to post your CV and search for available residency programs.
 

Imagine speed-dating, but interview style and for residencies.
 

At the last meeting in October 2014, the ACCP provided training called “Emerge from the Crowd: How to Become a Standout Residency Candidate.” This is a must for any student considering residency.


 

Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP)

AMCP is the hub for all things managed care pharmacy. They have a showcase for managed care residencies that lasts only 1 day, so you can maximize your time at the conference. I recommend spending the majority of your time networking with residency directors outside of the showcase.



State Pharmacy Organizations

Your state’s pharmacy organization will provide great opportunities to find residency programs in the area. The best way to find out about your local opportunities is to search their website for residency training or conferences. My home state’s pharmacy organization, the Michigan Pharmacists Association, has a residency showcase and a separate training day for pharmacy students.


For more info on how to grow your pharmacy career, check out my website, Pharmacy School HQ.

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