The Benefits of a Community Pharmacy Resident

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0,0

The first question on an owner'smind when asked about joininga residency affiliate program islikely to be, "What's in it for me?"Weall have that basic instinct to thinkabout how a particular program willaffect us. There are many reasons toparticipate in a residency program. Thebest reason is that you will get a chanceto mentor and teach.

Residents are like sponges, ready tosoak up every bit of wisdom that youcan impart to them. Unlike studentson rotations from pharmacy school, aresident will be with your pharmacyfor 1 full year. During that time, theresident will learn every aspect of owningand operating a community pharmacyfrom the owner's perspective. Heor she will learn about finance, cashflow, customer service, employee management,bookkeeping, accounts payable,accounts receivable, advertising,and, yes, even pharmacy.

We all know the advantages to theresident, but what about the advantagesto the owner?

The most obvious one is "free"labor.We all laugh at this old cliché, but infact you will have a pharmacist on stafffor 1 year usually at less than marketvalue. In most cases, the resident willbe willing to take less in monetaryvalue to gain more in educationalvalue. You will have a person on yourstaff who will be willing to go the extramile to make your customers feel theway you make them feel. You will havesomeone who wants to learn from yoursuccesses and, yes, even your failures. Ilet all my residents know how manytimes I have tried something new, onlyto have it not meet my expectations.They need to know that it is OK to failsometimes, as long as you learn fromthe experience.

Residents also can share knowledgeand experience from which owners canbenefit. They are fresh out of school,with new ideas and new ways of lookingat pharmacy. This approach helpsowners in making decisions about thepractice of pharmacy in their specificlocation. I think that residents makepharmacies better by offering new concepts,new energy, and excitementabout pharmacy that we as ownerssometimes tend to forget. Every day,we fight the daily battles with pharmacybenefit managers, unfair contracts,Medicare, Medicaid, high drug prices,and low reimbursement. The resident,however, brings enthusiasm that willrub off on you, your staff, and yourcustomers.

I spoke with Tony Tucker, RPh,owner of City Drug in Huntingdon,Tenn, about its residency program.Tony believes that having a residentbrings an asset to his pharmacy in theform of a bright, young, energeticpharmacist who has educational andlife experiences that can help thepatients of City Drug. Tony and hisbrother Tim work with the Universityof Tennessee in its residency program,and they believe that teaching thenext generation of pharmacy storeowners is part of ensuring that independentcommunity pharmacy will bearound for a long time.

Community pharmacy residencyprograms are postgraduate trainingprograms designed for graduate pharmacistswho are prepared to acceptleadership roles as community-basedclinicians and managers. Most residencieslast for 12 months, usually July 1to June 30. Residents are monitored bypharmacists like Tony and Tim, whoare experienced tutors.

The programs are designed to provideexperiences that develop a resident'scompetence and confidence inmany areas, including patient care,management, ownership, pharmacyeducation, and research. The NationalInstitute for Pharmacist Care Outcomeshas more than 10 certificateprograms available for store ownerswho want to add clinical programs attheir site. These programs add benefitsfor both the owner and the resident.

If you go on-line to any searchengine and enter "community pharmacyresidency program,"you will getmore than 700,000 Web sites. This is ahuge difference from a few years ago,when there were only a few residencyWeb sites available. Many universitiesand community pharmacies haveteamed up to put together residenciesin just about every part of the country.The National Community PharmacistsAssociation, the American PharmacistsAssociation, the National Associationof Chain Drug Stores, theAmerican Society of Health-SystemPharmacists, and the Institute for theAdvancement of Community Pharmacy(IACP) have helped to developcommunity pharmacy residency programsand have a great deal of informationon their Web sites.

IACP has given grants to residentsand residency sites to help develop programs.You can find answers to questionsat www.advancepharmacy.org.Another organization whose Web siteis dedicated to community pharmacyresidencies is CommuniRes(www.communires.com). These programscan help the pharmacistdevelop a community residency programand seek accreditation for theprogram. Pharmacists wishing tostart a residency program have onlyto perform a "Google"search, forexample, to find the informationthey need.

Many community pharmacy residentsreceive a stipend, so the storeowner does not have to provide all themonetary requirements. The residentdoes receive benefits, however, such ashealth care and holiday pay. Dependingon the program, the owner mayhave to cover part or all of these benefits.Most residents are required tocomplete a research project during theprogram. Such projects can be of firsthandadvantage to the store owner, asthe owner can use them to help determinefuture services that could profitthe pharmacy.

According to Tim Tucker at CityDrug, residents sometimes make greatbusiness partners. In many cases, a residentcompletes the residency programand then becomes employed by thepharmacy. When the residency ends,you have a built-in pharmacist managerthat you have already trained whoknows how to work with your staff andpatients. Residents have the tools tobecome owners themselves, and manygo on to open their own stores orbecome partners in community pharmacies.

Community pharmacy residency programsoffer a 2-way street for both ownersand residents. They provide valuableexperiences for both parties. In the longrun, they give residents the tools theyneed to open and operate a successfulcommunity pharmacy on their own,and it could all start with you.

Mr. Calhoun is owner of Golden Springs Pharmacy in Anniston, Ala, and co-owner of QuickMeds Express Pharmacy in Oxford, Ala.