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UNDERSTANDING A PHARMACY RESIDENCY PROGRAM

Lori C. Brown, PharmD
Published Online: Saturday, September 1, 2007   [ Request Print ]

PHARMACY RESIDENCIES ARE designed to further prepare pharmacists for advanced professional practice. Not only does residency completion afford pharmacists a competitive advantage in the marketplace, but residency programs train pharmacists in a variety of patient care settings and

provide opportunities to interact and network with many different types of health care practitioners. Residency training also increases professional confidence and competence and gives residents exposure to innovative practice styles and settings.

 

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) serves as the accrediting body for pharmacy residencies in the United States. ASHP believes that postgraduate residencies are the best source of highly qualified pharmacy manpower, and therefore has developed stringent accreditation standards to ensure quality residency training. The accreditation process is rigorous, including application, site survey, preliminary accreditation, survey report and follow-up, accreditation, and ongoing quality improvement measures.

 

Residents must participate in formal evaluation processes to ensure that their activities are meeting the goals and objectives of their particular residencies. Additionally, residents design, implement, and evaluate a project during the course of the residency year, which usually requires approval by an Institutional Review Board. Findings from this research are often presented at regional and even national meetings, and can parlay into publications for the resident.

 

So who should complete a residency? Students should consider their long-term career goals and weigh the costs of completing a residency against the benefits it could afford. In a competitive pharmacy marketplace, residency training is mandatory for certain types of positions, but it can certainly be hard to swallow the year of hard work for much lower pay, especially after at least 6 long years as a student. Pharmacists who have been in practice for years are certainly eligible to complete residency training as well, and often do so after realizing it is necessary to accomplish their career goals.

 

While academic success is certainly an important qualification for completing a residency, residency programs consider multiple other factors, including communication skills, pharmacy practice  experience, participation in extracurricular or volunteer activities, and a sense of commitment

to the pharmacy profession. The interview process is weighted heavily with most residency programs, as are letters of recommendation from clerkship preceptors, employers, and/or professors.

 

Residency programs are available in a variety of practice settings, including hospitals, community  pharmacies, home care and long-term care facilities, ambulatory care settings, managed care facilities, and others. The pharmacist?s career objectives should be considered in determining the type of  residency to pursue. Two types of pharmacy residencies are accredited by ASHP?postgraduate year 1 (PGY1) and postgraduate year 2 (PGY2). Generally, the PGY1 experience allows the resident to focus on gaining a solid foundation in delivery of patient care, including optimizing drug therapies, fostering relationships and collaboration with other health care disciplines, and more.

 

Upon completion of a PGY1 residency, pharmacists are eligible for PGY2 opportunities in a variety of practice settings, including ambulatory care, cardiology, critical care, drug information, geriatrics, infectious diseases, and many others.

 

For more information on pharmacy residencies, refer to the ASHP residency directory on the ASHP Web site, available at: http://www.ashp.org/s_ashp/residency_index.asp?CID=1212&DID=1254.

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